New study: ACA repeal would be the true job killer

Obamacare: Repeal, amend, replace

Image: Adobe Stock

Despite the fact that 30 million people would become uninsured within two years of repeal, President-Elect Trump and the GOP-led Congress remain committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), even though they have yet to come up with a replacement plan. If the impact of repeal on peoples’ lives won’t slow down lawmakers, perhaps this information will: according to a new report from George Washington University and the Commonwealth Fund, the repeal of the ACA would have disastrous economic consequences for the entire country.

If the current ACA repeal effort moves forward, Congress and the Trump administration would kill 2.6 million jobs by 2019, rising to a total of 3 million jobs lost by 2021. Close to a million of these jobs are in the health care arena, with the rest coming from industries like construction, real estate, retail trade, finance, insurance, and the public sector.

North Carolina would see some of the highest job losses with an estimated total of 76,000 by 2019. A full 97% of these losses would come from the private sector.

In addition to losing jobs, between 2019 and 2023, North Carolina could see fewer dollars coming into the state, including a loss of nearly $25 billion in federal funds. This would result in diminished economic activity, including losses of $67.2 billion in business output and $39.4 billion in gross state product.

What’s more, over this period, repeal of the ACA could force our state to lose out on $1.2 billion in state and local taxes—revenue no longer available for the state to invest in priorities like education, teacher pay, and economic development. And these devastating impacts would come despite the state’s previous refusal to expand Medicaid. Fortunately, Governor Cooper has shown leadership and pledged to close the coverage gap, which could create up to 40,000 jobs by 2020.

While opponents of the ACA have called the law a job-killer, the private sector has actually grown every month since the law was passed in 2010. Here’s to hoping the Congress doesn’t become the job killer—let’s save our economy and North Carolina lives instead.

One of the most dangerous campaign proposals for health care consumers: Interstate insurance sales

Heath care stock image: stethoscope on an American flagOver the course of the presidential race, controversial headlines have overshadowed the issue of health care in the public narrative. However, the health care discussion deserves more attention and substance. One proposal that has received little scrutiny in the press is the suggestion from some conservative candidates that insurance companies be allowed to sell health insurance plans across state lines.

Instead of having to be licensed and regulated in each state in which they sell plans, insurance companies would be allowed to seek licensure in one state of their choosing (presumably one with minimal requirements) and then sell insurance in other states, based on that single states’ approval. Proponents argue that interstate sales would increase competition and choice for consumers, in turn lowering administrative costs and premiums. However, available evidence suggests otherwise.

First of all, the proposal would not actually lower costs or increase competition. Proponents of the idea argue that allowing plans to navigate only the regulations of one state would make it easier for them to enter new markets. However, the primary barrier to entry into new markets is not red tape; insurance companies cite the difficulty of establishing competitive contracts with networks of health care providers as their chief obstacle to entering new markets.

Insurance companies actually already know that this idea doesn’t work; when bills to permit interstate insurance sales were introduced to Congress in the past, the insurance industry lobby did not support them. While Georgia, Maine, and Wyoming already allow interstate insurance sales, no companies have moved to begin selling across state lines. Read more

Small bit of hurricane good news: 2007 law facilitates easier prescription drug refills for those impacted

As almost everyone is aware by now, Hurricane Matthew has triggered disastrous flooding throughout much of North Carolina. With the waters not expected to completely recede until at least October 26 and with an estimated $1.5 billion in damages to homes, businesses, and infrastructure, many counties are facing a long road to recovery. Further, there are numerous public health concerns arising in the wake of the storm.

One short term concern for many North Carolinians involves their being unable to obtain needed prescriptions that may have been destroyed and for which their records may now be lost or ruined. Happily, in 2007, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law (G.S. 58-3-228) that addresses this issue. It makes clear that there is a procedure to waive time and other restrictions on filling or refilling prescriptions for state residents who reside in regions that are under a state of emergency due to a disaster.

Under the law, covered persons or subscribers are able to:

  • Obtain one refill on a prescription if there are authorized refills remaining, and
  • Fill one replacement prescription for one that was recently filled, as prescribed or approved by the prescriber.

Who’s Covered?  This law applies to all North Carolinians as Governor Pat McCrory declared a State of Emergency in all 100 counties on October 6, 2016. The state Commissioner of Insurance, Wayne Goodwin, issued a bulletin on October 7, 2016 to remind insurers of their obligation to provide these extra prescriptions. This law will be in effect until November 5, 2016 or 29 days after the NCDOI bulletin was released. Contact your provider for more information.