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News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968WJ Investigates: Obamacare... a flawed health care system…<p> As Congress debates the future of health care in America, it is helpful first to consider Obamacare&rsquo;s failings, and then look to the reforms needed to not just replace the law, but make the health care system better for all.</p> <p> Health policy experts argue that the main problem with Obamacare is that it took a flawed health care system burdened with too much government intervention, in the form of regulation and dollars, and doubled down on it.</p> <p> &ldquo;Obamacare looked at an unaffordable system, that is not innovative, that isn&rsquo;t responsive, and it just threw more money at that system.&rdquo; <a href="https://www.cato.org/people/michael-cannon">Michael Cannon</a>, director of health policy studies with the Cato Institute, told Western Journalism. &ldquo;Right now the government controls directly or indirectly 80 percent or more of our health care dollars.&rdquo;</p> <p> The <a href="https://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-individual-mandate/">individual mandate</a>, which went into effect in January 2014, requires all Americans to have ACA-compliant health insurance or face an <a href="https://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-individual-mandate/">annual fine</a>, which has been going up each year. In 2016, it was a minimum of $695 per adult and $347.50 for children, or 2.5 percent of a household&rsquo;s income, whichever is greater. Therefore, a family of four would owe $2,085 at a minimum. Using the 2.5 percent figure, for an individual earning $50,000 per year, the penalty would be $1,250.</p> <p> The fee must be paid in full if the lapse in coverage was two full months or more, half if less than that time period.</p> <p> The <a href="https://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-employer-mandate/">employer mandate</a>, which went into effect in 2015, requires all businesses with 50 or more people to provide ACA-compliant insurance to their full-time employees (30 or more hours per week) or pay an annual fee of $2,000 per full-time employee not covered.</p> <p> Obamacare expanded those eligible for free government health care under Medicaid to those earning <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/federal-poverty-level-FPL/">138 percent of the federal poverty level</a>. For 2017, the threshold is about $16,600 for individuals and $33,900 for a family of four.</p> <p> In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government mandating the states to expand Medicaid (which is a shared federal/state program) is unconstitutional. Thirty-two states, including the District of Columbia, have <a href="https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/program-information/medicaid-and-chip-eligibility-levels/">expanded </a>their programs and 19 have not.</p> <p> Former President Barack Obama, in selling the increased role of the federal government in health care &mdash; which accounts for 20 percent of the American economy &mdash; promised Americans that those who currently had health care plans would not be affected by the new law.</p> <p> &ldquo;If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,&rdquo; Obama pledged on multiple occasions before and after the bill&rsquo;s passage.</p> <p> Politifact named this promise the<a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2013/dec/12/lie-year-if-you-like-your-health-care-plan-keep-it/"> &ldquo;Lie of the Year&rdquo; </a>in 2013, as over 4 million cancellation letters went out to policy holders that year, and such letters continued in the years thereafter.</p> <p> The reason for the millions of cancellations was the mandated coverage requirements of Obamacare &mdash; <a href="https://obamacarefacts.com/essential-health-benefits/">essential health benefits</a> &mdash; that forced insurers to cancel the policies in order to be compliant.</p> <p> Essential health benefits include coverage that some consumers may not want or ever need, including maternity and newborn care, mental health and addiction treatment, prescription drugs, preventive services (including the contraception mandate) and pediatric services.</p> <p> Not surprisingly, each additional coverage health insurance providers must include in their policies drives up the costs.</p> <p> Incredulously, given the insurance mandates, Obama promised that premiums would go down an average of $2,500 a year per family of four and thereby live up to the name &ldquo;Affordable Care Act.&rdquo; However, the opposite proved to be true. Politifact listed this as a <a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/promise/521/cut-cost-typical-familys-health-insurance-premium-/">&ldquo;promise broken.&rdquo;</a></p> <p> In the individual market, the average nationwide premium increase has been 99 percent for individuals and 140 percent for families from 2013-2017, according to an eHealth<a href="http://ir.ehealthinsurance.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=198312&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=2238935"> report</a>.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><a href="http://www.iwf.org/about/hadley-heath"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Hadley Heath Manning</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, director of policy with the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, told Western Journalism, &ldquo;Obamacare started with a bad premise, that everyone should have the same health insurance coverage and that insurance should be used for nearly every health care transaction.&rdquo;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;This has only limited patients&rsquo; choices: Most people have few options among health insurance plans, and those plans dictate where we receive care through limited provider networks,&rdquo; she said.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> According to the <a href="http://www.heritage.org/health-care-reform/commentary/8-reasons-why-obamacare-should-be-repealed">Heritage Foundation</a>, 70 percent of U.S. counties have only one or two insurers offering coverage through the Obamacare exchange. Some areas of the country face having no insurers on the exchange at all in 2018, according to <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2017-health-insurer-exits/">Bloomberg</a>.</p> <p> Both Manning and Cannon agree that if the goal is to bring true reform to the health care system, the answer is going to have to be less government control and a more free-market economy.</p> <p> &ldquo;A better policy would be one that entrusts individuals and families with the freedom to choose coverage that&rsquo;s right for them, without forcing them to buy a one-size-fits-all policy,&rdquo; Manning said.</p> <p> She added, &ldquo;Allowing individuals and families greater choices in insurance plans outside of what&rsquo;s offered by employers (by offering the same tax relief to individually-purchased plans) would be another important step.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;Congress needs to enact reforms that make health care more affordable, rather than just subsidize unaffordable care,&rdquo; Cannon <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/house-gop-leaderships-health-care-bill-obamacare-lite-or-worse">contended</a>. &ldquo;To make health insurance more affordable, Congress should free consumers and employers to purchase health insurance licensed by states other than their own.&rdquo; This would create a nationwide market, creating a far greater pool of people, instead of 50 tightly regulated smaller markets.</p> <p> Cannon also said Congress should significantly increase the cap on Health Savings Accounts as a means to create more competition in the health care market.</p> <p> Currently the amount of tax-free dollars employers and employees can contribute to health savings accounts is $3,400 for individuals and $6,750 for a family.</p> <p> Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. David Brat, R-Va., <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/five-things-you-need-know-about-bicameral-legislation-creating-large-hsas">introduced legislation</a> in 2016, based on Cato&rsquo;s recommendation, to create &ldquo;Large HSAs,&rdquo; increasing the limits to $9,000 and $18,000, respectively.</p> <p> The legislation &ldquo;would allow tax-free HSA funds to purchase health insurance, over-the-counter medications and direct primary care. It would eliminate the mandate that HSA holders purchase a government-designed high-deductible health plan,&rdquo; <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/five-things-you-need-know-about-bicameral-legislation-creating-large-hsas">explained</a> Cannon.</p> <p> The Large HSAs would empower employees to opt for going into the marketplace and purchasing the insurance that is best for them rather than what is simply offered by the employer.</p> <p> By decoupling people&rsquo;s insurance plans directly from their employers, it would also address the issue of pre-existing conditions for many, because they would be able to maintain continuous coverage, even if they changed jobs.</p> <p> &ldquo;The health care system, such as it is, serves the needs of people other than the consumers who it is supposed to serve,&rdquo; said Cannon.</p> <p> Congress has the opportunity, with Obamacare&rsquo;s many failings, to institute true reform that Americans can cheer for years to come.</p> http://iwf.org/media/2804177/Hadley HeathFri, 23 Jun 2017 10:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWith Senate healthcare bill in the picture, Obamacare debate hinges on community rating<p> Republican Senators have released their <a href="https://www.budget.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SENATEHEALTHCARE.pdf">health reform bill</a>, legislation that attempts to strike the balance necessary to pass the Senate with at least 50 votes. As is often the case with compromise, this bill will either succeed in pleasing everyone &ndash; or will please no one.</p> <p> Like the House bill, the Senate bill will repeal the individual and employer mandates, expand HSAs, repeal most of the ACA&#39;s taxes, and importantly, allow states to opt out of the Essential Health Benefits (federal rules that force everyone to pay more money for certain services even if they do not need them), but keeps the age-26 rule, and guaranteed issue (the requirement that insurers offer policies to everyone).</p> <p> Also like the House bill, the Senate bill reforms the structure of federal Medicaid funding to a per-capita allotment, using an even more conservative formula for funding the program for low-income people.</p> <p> But in important ways, the Senate bill is less conservative than the <a href="https://housegop.leadpages.co/healthcare/">House-passed version of the American Health Care Act</a>: Where the House converted the Affordable Care Act subsidies to flat age-based tax credits, the Senate would effectively keep the ACA subsidies as is, with minor tweaks. It would slow the phase-out of the Medicaid expansion, which is likely to improve the 10-year coverage projections from the Congressional Budget Office.</p> <p> As far as the waivers available to states, the Senate bill would not allow states to escape community rating &ndash; the requirement that insurers offer the same prices to everyone regardless of health status and other risk factors.</p> <p> All of these points are likely to get pushback from conservatives, not just within the Senate (like Sens. Lee, Cruz, Paul), but also from House conservatives if the legislation <a href="https://www.congress.gov/legislative-process/resolving-differences">goes to conference</a>. And these moves to the middle will put the plan at risk for shouts of &quot;Obamacare Lite!&quot; from groups that oppose Obamacare.</p> <p> It&#39;s worth noting that on two points &ndash; subsidies and Medicaid &ndash; the difference between the House and Senate is more or less a matter of math: To what extent will health insurance subsidies be means-tested versus age-based? One can imagine a compromise that incorporates both age and income in the subsidy equation. How long will the federal government fund the Medicaid expansion? The House and Senate could change the percentages of federal support for the expansion during years 2020 through 2024 to meet in the middle.</p> <p> But the policy about community rating is a binary choice. Either lawmakers will allow it, or they won&#39;t. Allowing it, even in &quot;Mother-may-I&quot; waivers, where states must ask permission to do so, has earned House Republicans public ire. Why? Because the public doesn&#39;t much like the idea of people with &quot;pre-existing conditions&quot; facing higher premiums than relatively healthy people. And the public may not be aware of the downside of community rating: higher premiums and lower quality healthcare all around.</p> <p> When asked about community rating in context (with information about how this rule affects costs and quality of care), public support flips <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/support-obamacares-most-popular-provisions-plummet-quality-care-threatened">upside down</a>. The takeaway for the GOP is clear: Focus on explaining why repealing community rating is necessary, how doing so will result in lower premiums and more stable markets.</p> <p> Ultimately, the internal Republican health policy debate boils down to this: Will they let insurance companies risk-rate policies (a core concept in insurance)?</p> <p> Even when the House bill allowed this, it was under extremely limited circumstances: Only when an applicant had a coverage gap of 2 months (63 days) could insurers consider health in pricing. And even so, the insurer could charge higher premiums for a temporary period, limited at one-year maximum. But the GOP has struggled to explain this policy, the reasons for it, and its potential effects (lower premiums and increased access), in a message environment driven by fear-mongering from the Left.</p> <p> Let&#39;s hope conservative members in both chambers take up the mantle of freer markets in health insurance and move the public, and the policy, in a better direction.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2804164/Hadley HeathThu, 22 Jun 2017 09:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumShould security be ramped up for lawmakers? • Bulls & Bears http://iwf.org/media/2804129/Hadley HeathSat, 17 Jun 2017 11:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHealthcare and taxes getting lost in Russia investigation • Bulls & Bearshttp://iwf.org/media/2804128/Hadley HeathSat, 17 Jun 2017 11:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe paid-leave compromise dreamed up by two think tanks goes in the wrong direction<p> The American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, two elite D.C.-based think tanks, teamed up and released <a href="http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Paid-Family-and-Medical-Leave-An-Issue-Whose-Time-Has-Come.pdf">a report on paid family leave</a> Tuesday. This follows President Trump&#39;s budget, which included a proposal to expand access to <a href="http://iwf.org/news/2803727/Time-for-the-Much-Needed-Discussion-about-How-to-Help-Parents-Who-Need-Leave">paid family leave,</a> and demonstrates that the policy issue is gaining traction.</p> <p> Rightfully so: As the new report says, changes in labor force participation and family structure have put increasing pressure on dual-earner families (and single parents). When a new child joins a family or when other medical issues come up, workers need to take time off to heal, bond and adjust. And some can&#39;t afford to do so.</p> <p> We should applaud these think tanks for wading into an important and difficult issue area. It is a personal topic, fraught with emotion, as families struggle with juggling work and family life in a variety of different ways. And this struggle obviously affects families of different sizes, ages and income levels differently.</p> <p> But sadly the AEI/Brookings report comes down on the side of a one-size-fits-all plan, assuming that&#39;s what will serve families best.</p> <p> This is wrong.</p> <p> Instead, families need flexibility to minimize the downside and maximize the upside of tradeoffs, given their individual circumstances and needs.</p> <p> The working group behind the report includes economists and thinkers across the political spectrum, and therefore the solution they propose is a compromise, they say. But compromise is tricky. The devil is always in the details.</p> <p> So what are the details of the AEI/Brookings compromise? Rather than mandating that employers provide paid time off, the group suggests that the federal government fund eight weeks of paid time off for family leave, but only at 70 percent pay and only for people at the lower end of the income spectrum. They suggest funding the budget-neutral plan with payroll taxes and other savings.</p> <p> Consider what Speaker of the House Paul Ryan once wisely said about compromise: &quot;I&#39;ll take an inch where I wanted a mile, but I won&#39;t move an inch in the wrong direction.&quot;</p> <p> The compromise proposal in the AEI/Brookings report would be inching in the wrong direction. While a federal entitlement might minimize <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82zOksUQgIQ">some of the problems associated with mandating that employers</a> provide paid family leave, it would still come with significant downsides.</p> <p> A new payroll tax would affect all workers, not just those who would take advantage of the benefit. We ought to ask if that is fair. And the proposal is likely to result in <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2017/04/16/paid-family-leave-reduces-womens-wages-increases-the-gender-pay-gap/#59f729595c43">discrimination against women of childbearing age</a>, as employers will (correctly) assume that more women than men will maximize the benefit and miss more work.</p> <p> Importantly, government intrusion into this issue would stop &mdash; or at least slow &mdash; the important market-based changes and innovations that could alleviate the problems working families face. Already many employers are moving to create or expand paid time off for family leave. And those who can are offering work-from-home options, flexible hours and other customized leave arrangements to suit their workforce.</p> <p> Another age-old phrase should be a warning to conservatives: &quot;Give someone an inch, and he&#39;ll take a mile.&quot; A new federal entitlement to paid family leave will do as all entitlement programs ultimately do: balloon into unsustainable behemoths far beyond what was intended. Eight weeks at 70 percent pay may be an improvement as compared with what some new parents get today, but it will never be enough. We should expect calls to expand the program within minutes of its passage.</p> <p> We can and should recognize that many families don&#39;t have the time and resources they need to deal with new additions, sicknesses or care for elderly family members.</p> <p> Family leave is a good thing. But when the government gets in the business of trying to provide everyone with good things &ndash; like health insurance, for example &ndash; our experience should be instructive. &quot;One-size-fits-all&quot; won&#39;t fit many.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2804055/Hadley HeathWed, 7 Jun 2017 09:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIt's fact, not fake: Americans crushed by ObamaCare premiums<p> In July 2012, President Barack Obama <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2012/07/16/remarks-president-campaign-event">made this statement</a>: &quot;You should know that once we have fully implemented [the Affordable Care Act], you&#39;re going to be able to buy insurance through a pool so that you can get the same good rates as a group that if you&#39;re an employee at a big company you can get right now &ndash; which means your premiums will go down.&quot;</p> <p> Since that time, however, <a href="https://aspe.hhs.gov/system/files/pdf/256751/IndividualMarketPremiumChanges.pdf">according to the Department of Health and Human Services</a> (HHS), premiums for ObamaCare have increased &quot;significantly&quot; for individual health insurance plans:</p> <p> &quot;There is substantial variation in the percent increase by state. All 39 states using Healthcare.gov experienced an increase in individual market premiums from 2013 to 2017. Across the Healthcare.gov states, the lowest premium increase was 12% (New Jersey), and the highest premium increase was 222% (Alabama). Sixteen states had premium increases below the national average of 105%, 20 states experienced premium increases between 105% and 200%, and 3 states saw premiums triple with increases of 200% or more.&quot; <em>(HHS &quot;ASPE Data Point&quot; [May 23, 2017], p. 2)</em></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">OneNewsNow spoke with Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy for the </span></span><a href="http://www.iwf.org/"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;This report is not surprising. It tracks with what we&#39;ve heard from so many Americans who are getting crushed by the cost of high premiums under ObamaCare,&quot; she says. &quot;This report specifically focuses on states that don&#39;t have their own exchanges, just states that operate under the Healthcare.gov federal exchange &ndash; and more than half of those states saw average increases of more than 100 percent, meaning premiums more than doubled.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">In three states (Alabama, Alaska, and Oklahoma), the increase was over 200 percent between 2013 and 2017, according to the HHS report.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Meaning for those customers in those states, average premiums have more than tripled,&quot; Manning explains. &quot;So it&#39;s pretty astounding &ndash; but it&#39;s not surprising because it tracks with what we already know about ObamaCare.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Ronna McDaniel, makes similar remarks in a press release about the HHS report:</p> <p> &quot;This report proves what Republicans have been saying for years &ndash; ObamaCare was sold on lies that failed to deliver for the American people. With premiums skyrocketing out of control and increasing by triple digits for many families, it is no surprise Obamacare is in a death spiral.</p> <p> &quot;It is no longer up for debate &ndash; the Democrats have saddled Americans with a healthcare system that has failed people all across our country. Meanwhile, Republicans continue to work to deliver more patient-centered, affordable, and flexible healthcare system that will care for generations to come.&quot;</p> <p> It was <a href="https://www.onenewsnow.com/ap/politics/cbo-gives-house-health-bill-mixed-review">reported yesterday</a> by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that the GOP&#39;s plan &ndash; the American Health Care Act &ndash; would see premiums fall compared to what Americans say under ObamaCare. The AHCA narrowly passed the House earlier this month and is now with the Senate.</p> http://iwf.org/media/2803769/Hadley HeathThu, 25 May 2017 09:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMany of the people who will 'lose coverage' under Obamacare repeal will choose to do so<p> The Congressional Budget Office has released <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/costestimate/hr1628aspassed.pdf">an analysis of the American Health Care Act,</a> the House-passed legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. The CBO says the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion, result in 23 million fewer Americans being insured, and lower insurance premiums in the next 10 years.</p> <p> The Left have already predictably seized on the coverage effect: 23 million fewer Americans insured than projected under current law. This figure from the CBO is no surprise, but it needs some context.</p> <p> The CBO predicts 14 million fewer insured through Medicaid, 6 million fewer insured in individually-purchased plans, and 3 million fewer insured through employer-based plans.</p> <p> Like all budget projections, the CBO isn&#39;t just considering changes from today, but changes from what they believe will happen in the future. Therefore, the projected decrease in Medicaid coverage includes not only people who are currently in the program, but is based on the assumption that, if Obamacare remained law, more states would expand the program. Today, 31 states have expanded Medicaid; 19 states have not.</p> <p> It&#39;s worth remembering that the CBO can be wrong: The agency was <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2017/01/02/learning-from-cbos-history-of-incorrect-obamacare-projections/#7109445646a7">about 12 million off</a> on its projection of how many people would enroll in Obamacare&#39;s exchanges.</p> <p> The CBO is likely right that fewer people will have insurance coverage under any Republican plan that repeals Obamacare. After all, while the projection about individual policies attempts to take several variables into account, much of the change due to repeal would be people choosing to go uninsured in the absence of Obamacare&#39;s penalty. Lawmakers should keep in mind that the number of people with coverage, while an important metric<a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/do-conservatives-really-want-universal-health-coverage/article/2618705">, isn&#39;t necessarily the right one to gauge the success</a> of any health reform law.</p> <p> For projections related to premiums, the CBO divided states into three categories: 1) states that would not seek waivers for major regulations on what insurance policies must cover or how they may be priced to different consumers based on health status, 2) states that would waive some of the regulations for what plans cover, and 3) states that would waive both the regulations on benefits and health- or risk-based pricing.</p> <p> The CBO says that premiums would be 4 percent lower in the first group and 20 percent lower in the second group. For the third group, they predict that &quot;average premiums for people who did purchase insurance would generally be lower than in other states &mdash; but the variation around that average would be very large.&quot;</p> <p> Wednesday&#39;s score was released just hours after <a href="https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/individual-market-premium-changes-2013-2017">a new study from the Department of Health and Human Services</a> showed that Obamacare resulted in an average premium increase of 105 percent since 2013.</p> <p> Obamacare has failed to control costs. It certainly failed to deliver on the repeated promise of lowering the average family premium by $2,500. And while the list of covered services in plans today might be longer than before, we should recognize that not everyone wants or needs such robust (and costly) coverage.</p> <p> The majority of Healthcare.gov states (62 percent) saw average premium increases between 2013 and 2017 of more than 100 percent, meaning average premiums in most states have more than doubled. In two states (Alabama and Alaska), the average premium increase is more than 200 percent, meaning rates more than tripled.</p> <p> What did the CBO say would happen to premiums in 2009, when the agency was projecting the effect of Obamacare? Well, they got the direction right: They said <a href="http://cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/107xx/doc10781/11-30-premiums.pdf">average premiums would be 10 to 13 percent higher in 2016</a>. Even this projection, though, failed to accurately predict that average premiums would in fact double.</p> <p> Considering all this, it&#39;s no wonder that Obamacare has been so politically divisive. Some families credit the law with helping them, but others are paying premiums as high or higher than their mortgage payments. It&#39;s a deeply personal issue for people.</p> <p> But the CBO score is just that: a score, a projection, a best guess from mathematicians who are working under a certain set of assumptions. It&#39;s an important part of the debate, but given the complexity of health insurance markets, may fail to accurately predict what changes lie ahead.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2803752/Hadley HeathThu, 25 May 2017 09:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumYes: Replacement would afford women better options, lower costs<p> Women make the majority of decisions about care and insurance for our families and we generally consume more health care than men. As a result, women have a lot at stake when it comes to the laws that govern American health care and insurance.</p> <p> In 2010, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, made it illegal for insurers to charge women more than men and mandated that insurance plans cover women&#39;s preventive care, including birth control, with no copay.</p> <p> Therefore, some now suggest repealing the Affordable Care Act would be detrimental for women&#39;s health. But the opposite is true: Repeal will afford women greater choice and lower costs when it comes to insurance plans, doctors and care.</p> <p> ? The supposed benefits of the ACA have been oversold. No copay birth control sounds like a gift, but savvy shoppers know the difference between what&#39;s truly free and what&#39;s simply included in a larger cost.</p> <p> Rather than actually making birth control free, this provision forces women to pay for birth control without seeing the price. It&#39;s rolled into the cost of insurance premiums, which have increased dramatically due to the law &ndash; even if men and women now both pay equally high rates.</p> <p> The group that has seen the largest increase in costs under the ACA are women ages 55-64.</p> <p> Before the ACA, these women &ndash; outside their childbearing years &ndash; paid lower premiums and didn&#39;t have to buy costly maternity coverage.</p> <p> But now these women suffer from the flipside of the gender-equity coin; they are averaged with 55-64-year-old men, many of whom have high health costs.</p> <p> Further, some ACA plans provide coverage in name only: Oftentimes, the out-of-pocket costs are too high and the doctor&#39;s networks are too restrictive, meaning women and men in these plans don&#39;t always have access to the services they need.</p> <p> And importantly, the ACA took away women&#39;s choice in plans: Not only have the many regulations in the law limited what types of plans can be bought and sold, but overregulation has led to financial losses and insurer exits, leaving few choices for consumers. In one in three U.S. counties, ACA customers have only one option.</p> <p> Women deserve better. Repeal would entrust women with the choice to determine what coverage they want &ndash; or don&#39;t want &ndash; for themselves and their families. And removing Obamacare&#39;s regulatory burdens would reduce costs and entice more insurance companies to compete for our business, giving consumers more power.</p> <p> It should also be noted that support for repeal of the ACA does not equate with a desire of returning to the previous status quo.</p> <p> We would still need further health reform. For example, we need to move beyond our employer-centric insurance system to allow for greater portability in plans, lower costs and more choice.</p> <p> Women in particular need a strong market for individually purchased insurance plans as we are less likely than men to get insurance through work.</p> <p> Many women suffer from expensive health conditions and some may fear that without the protections in the ACA, they will be harmed. But no one wants a policy where people die for want of care and no one wants to see compatriots face financial ruin due to health costs.</p> <p> That&#39;s why the proposed replacement plan includes additional funding and protections to help people with pre-existing conditions. There are better ways to address this issue than the ACA approach.</p> <p> The fatal flaw in the ACA&#39;s treatment of women, like so many other big-government schemes, is its misguided premise that all women are the same and want the same things. This is wrong.</p> <p> Women and their families have unique, individual needs and preferences for health care and insurance. Repealing the ACA is the best first step to offering women &ndash; and men &ndash; the freedom to find and afford what they want in a robust, competitive marketplace.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2803749/Hadley HeathThu, 25 May 2017 09:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPodcast #82 Cathy McMorris Rodgers on how the AHCA will affect citizens with pre-existing conditions<div> <div> <div> <p> IWF policy director Hadley Heath Manning interviews Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Republican Conference on the plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare. Hadley and the Congresswoman discuss the legislation that the U.S. House passed recently, the American Health Care Act, and specifically, they discuss how the plan would affect people with pre-existing health conditions.</p> </div> <div> <div> &nbsp;</div> </div> <div> <div> <div> &nbsp;</div> </div> </div> <div> <div> &nbsp;</div> </div> </div> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/media/2803735/Hadley HeathTue, 23 May 2017 16:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGlobal hack attack: It's time to safeguard systems to protect our informationhttp://iwf.org/media/2803707/Hadley HeathSat, 20 May 2017 20:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumClear message to American allies in the mideast to unite and fight terrorismhttp://iwf.org/media/2803706/Hadley HeathSat, 20 May 2017 20:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy do we need tax cuts in America? http://iwf.org/media/2803705/Hadley HeathSat, 20 May 2017 20:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhat needs to happen to address the core problems in our government spending? http://iwf.org/media/2803704/Hadley HeathFri, 19 May 2017 19:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHadley Heath Manning On Health Policy, Medicaid Reform, And Miss USA<p> Hadley Heath Manning is a senior policy analyst and director of health policy at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum. Manning shares her insights on Medicaid, the recent healthcare debate, and common sense ways conservatives can improve their health policy messaging.</p> <p> Manning explained alternatives to the current incentives for spending at the state level. &ldquo;Medicaid needed reform before Obamacare. Obamacare made it worse in some sense,&rdquo; Manning said. &ldquo;What [the AHCA] would do is limit the Medicaid expansion that now states &lsquo;get money for spending money&rsquo; on Medicaid.&rdquo;</p> <div> <div> Ivanka Trump has brought working women and issues like paid maternity leave to the forefront of issues at the White House. &ldquo;I hope that Republicans can change their reputation as being stone-cold on these issues, only concerned about cost,&rdquo; Manning said.</div> </div> <p> <iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/322959243&amp;color=ff5500" width="100%"></iframe></p> http://iwf.org/media/2803665/Hadley HeathWed, 17 May 2017 19:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAnother ObamaCare exit = fewer options = bad for consumers<p> <strong>Lawmakers need to pay attention to Aetna&#39;s latest decision involving ObamaCare. That&#39;s the advice of a senior health policy analyst with the Independent Women&#39;s Forum.</strong></p> <p> Aetna, the nation&#39;s third-largest health insurer, says <a href="https://onenewsnow.com/ap/politics/aetna-pullout-shows-obamacare-on-life-support">it won&#39;t participate in ObamaCare exchanges</a> in Nebraska and Delaware next year. The insurer had pulled out of several other states after losing nearly a half-billion dollars in 2016; this decision comes after projecting a $200 million loss this year.</p> <p> Hadley Heath Manning of the <a href="http://iwf.org/">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</a> points out Aetna has been reducing its participation in state-based exchanges &ndash; and not just because of financial losses.</p> <p> &quot;They announced a while ago they wouldn&#39;t participate in Virginia&#39;s exchange, and that time they cited some of their concerns related to the current legislation under consideration that just passed the House,&quot; says Manning, IWF&#39;s director of health policy. &quot;And of course this puts insurance companies in a difficult position because they&#39;re going to have to reconsider how they do business and what kind of plans they can offer depending on a variety of decisions that lawmakers at the federal and state level are making.&quot;</p> <p> That said, when Aetna announced this week it would no longer participate in any of the exchanges, it didn&#39;t cite uncertainty related to the law, but rather financial losses the company has experienced.</p> <p> &quot;If an insurance carrier can&#39;t make money in the exchanges, then it&#39;s not in their best interest to participate,&quot; Manning adds. &quot;We have to recognize that reality if we want to consider the best laws that are going to give consumers the most options and at the best prices.&quot;</p> <p> Other insurers have said as much in recent months. Some have also been fleeing exchanges, including Humana, UnitedHealth, and even Blue Cross Blue Shield in some cases.</p> <p> Over the two years, Aetna wanted to merge with Humana &ndash; and Anthem sought to merge with Cigna. <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/14/investing/aetna-humana/index.html">Both those mergers were blocked</a> by federal judges. OneNewsNow asked Manning if things would be different today had one or more merger been approved.</p> <p> &quot;The companies who suffered the financial losses were looking at mergers as a potential way to ward off some of their financial problems, and some people speculated that Aetna pulled out of some of the exchanges earlier as sort of revenge against the Obama administration for denying their merger request,&quot; answers Manning.</p> <p> &quot;I don&#39;t know that that&#39;s so much the case because when you&#39;re a customer, whether we have the big five or the big three or a handful of options,&quot; she continues. &quot;It really depends on where you live and what&#39;s available to you &ndash; and when you have consolidation in the health insurance market, that&#39;s another way that consumers face fewer options.&quot;</p> <p> So whether it&#39;s insurers exiting the exchanges altogether or merging with other big insurance companies, the bottom line for consumers is the trend toward fewer choices.</p> <p> &quot;And fewer choices means not only do we have fewer options in terms of plans, but our networks depend on what plans we get, our doctors are dependent on those networks, and for us it&#39;s about accessing care and the prices that we pay,&quot; Manning concludes. &quot;The trend has been bad for consumers regardless of what would have happened with those mergers.&quot;</p> http://iwf.org/media/2803649/Hadley HeathFri, 12 May 2017 10:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum