Senate AHCA “discussion draft” expected Thursday

It’s been a difficult road for the long-awaited Obamacare repeal. After the first, flawed version failed to gain enough support for a vote, difficult negotiations behind the scene were able to squeeze some key fiscally conservative reforms, and the House narrowly passed the updated version.

The Senate has since been negotiating behind closed doors, with early reports suggesting that they might scale back some aspects of the House version.

Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced that a discussion draft of the bill will be released on Thursday with a vote ideally held the following Thursday.

As news breaks that even more providers are pulling out of the struggling Obamacare exchanges, the time is ripe for true, free-market healthcare reform. Whether tomorrow’s version will be a step toward or away from that goal remains to be seen, but anyone who cares about quality healthcare options should keep a close watch.

CRS, 26 other organizations urge CBO to adopt transparency reforms

The Coalition to Reduce Spending was proud to spearhead a bipartisan coalition letter alongside Demand Progress and 25 other organizational signatories, calling for the Congressional Budget Office to take several key steps to improve transparency.

The letter, which can be viewed in full here, suggests among other things that the CBO move toward standardizing URLs, improving search functionality, and providing bulk data for its scores. These types of reforms would be immensely valuable to fiscally conservative organizations as well as transparency and technology advocates.

The letter was delivered to the CBO this morning. The full signatories list is below.

American Association of Law Libraries
American Library Association
American Society of News Editors
Association of Alternative Newsmedia
Campaign for Liberty
Center for Data Innovation
Center for Responsive Politics
Coalition to Reduce Spending
Defense Priorities
Demand Progress
Free Government Information
Government Accountability Project
Government Information Watch
Issue One
Lincoln Network
National Taxpayers Union Foundation
Niskanen Center
Project on Government Oversight
R Street Institute
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Sunlight Foundation
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Nebraska Loses Another Health Insurance Provider

Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report that shows premiums have doubled for individual health insurance plans since 2013. The HHS National Spokesperson stated that Americans were paying a whopping $3,000 more per year on health insurance.

For Nebraskans, the healthcare woes don’t stop there. 100,000 people in the Cornhusker State will be left with only one individual health insurance option next year—leaving just Medica Health. Both Aetna Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska announced this year that they will not participate in the insurance market in 2018. Blue Cross will be dropping the last two insurance plans that meet the ACA’s standards because to stay in the Nebraska market, they would be forced to raise all prices to make up for the losses.

To make matters even worse, Medica Health has yet to make a final decision on whether they will even stay. If they were to leave the state market, there would be no insurance providers, forcing residents to pay federal penalties for not buying insurance plans that do not exist anymore, although Cynthia Cox, the deputy director of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said that Nebraska will be among only a few states with only one individual ACA insurer, and it is unlikely for Medica to pull out of Nebraska entirely.

However, with so many companies dropping out of the insurance market because they are not making a profit, the brokenness of the status quo and need for reform. Congress should work to find ways that make health insurance more affordable and higher quality for all Americans.

Note: This post originally appeared at the Institute to Reduce Spending.

Is the Pentagon overpaying for fuel?

The debate over Pentagon spending is hardly new, but it has picked up again after President Trump requested an additional $52 billion in funding for the Pentagon. Fiscal hawks are skeptical about large budget increases after reports this January that leaders had buried an internal study exposing waste throughout the department, not to mention the longtime failure to pass an audit.

Now, evidence has surfaced that the department has raised $6 billion over 7 years by charging excessive fuel prices to its armed forces. The Washington Post reports:

Since 2015, the Defense Department has tapped surpluses from its fuel accounts for $80 million to train Syrian rebels, $450 million to shore up a prescription-drug program riddled with fraud and $1.4 billion to cover unanticipated expenses from the war in Afghanistan, according to military accounting records.

These prices rise because the Pentagon uses a system dating back to WWII, originally intended to improve efficiency and stop duplication: It buys fuel centrally and sells it back to the armed services and other customers at a fixed price. The problem? This price is often high above market rate, sometimes as much as a dollar per gallon.
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Average Health Insurance Premiums Doubled Since 2013

The Department of Health and Human Services released a report today that shows premiums have doubled for individual health insurance plans since 2013.

The study specifically looked at the increase in cost from 2013, and suggests that the rise in premiums can be linked to Affordable Care Act regulations and mandates, which were to be fully implemented by 2013. Since then, all 39 states using the exchange saw an increase in premiums.

HHS National Spokesperson, Alleigh Marré, stated that Americans are now paying, “$3,000 more for health insurance per year,” and that “The status quo is unsustainable.”

Average monthly premiums increased from $232 to $476 over this time frame. This cost eats into an extra 10% of the monthly budget for a family on the poverty line (5 person household: $24,600 annually), and that 10% only represents the increase over the past 4 years in healthcare costs.

This report shows clearly that the status quo in healthcare is statistically leading to higher costs for average Americans across the country and is not sustainable. Concerned patients should keep on eye on their premiums in the years to come and push for better solutions for everyone.


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