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Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 4.17.51 PMThe Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released the fourth year report on projections of the cost of the Affordable Care Act.  The news is good and consistent with the trend over the previous four years: CBO now projects $104 billion less in costs under the Act than it did last year.  The reduction in costs is due to a variety of factors but two big ones stand out.  First, plans being offered under the health exchanges have significantly lower premiums that were originally anticipated, largely a result of narrower networks of providers and tighter management of health care in the plans – a trade-off that has resulted in big savings.  Second, all health costs – both in government programs like Medicare and Medicaid and in the private sector – are projected to grow  more slowly than just last year.  The CBO points out that this is becoming a trend:

A notable influence is the substantial downward revision to projected health care costs both for the federal government and for the private sector. For example, since early 2010, CBO and JCT have revised downward their projections of insurance premiums for policies purchased through the exchanges in 2016 by roughly 15 percent, and CBO has revised downward its projection of total Medicaid spending per beneficiary in 2016 by roughly half that percentage.

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Medicaid efficiencyThe wonks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an outstanding little report this week about America’s health insurance program for low-income people and some of the biggest myths that have been perpetuated about it.

The overarching message: Despite the far right propaganda, Medicaid remains an efficient and flexible program that dramatically improves the lives of participants, promotes work and is an outstanding deal for states that expand it under the Affordable Care Act.

Read the entire report by clicking here.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for the  inside political scoop on the Medicaid battles and the real reason the right refuses to allow its expansion in states like North Carolina, Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman had the answer in yesterday’s New York Times: Read More

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As reported by CNBC:

“US says Medicaid enrollment jumps by 3 million under Obamacare

At least 3 million more people were enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP programs by the end of February than before the beginning of Obamcare sign-ups, federal officials revealed Friday morning.

That post-Obamacare number is expected to grow, possibly significantly, because February’s data is not complete, and because it does not now reflect a huge influx of visitors to government-run Affordable Care Act exchanges in March.

Those exchanges both enroll people in private insurance, and determine whether applicants are eligible for the government-run Medicaid and CHIP programs, which give health coverage to poor adults and children, at no cost to enrollees….”

In other words, for all of its imperfections and the shameless obstructionism of the right wing, millions of Americans who were previously uninsured now have health insurance and millions more soon will. This will mean improved health outcomes for millions and overall lower health care costs as millions of people stop using the emergency room as their doctor.

Read the entire story by clicking here.

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In case you missed it, the business page of the Los Angeles Times ran a fascinating article yesterday entitled “Obamacare numbers coming in huge: Here’s a guide to GOP excuse-making.” As the article notes:

“Against all odds and expectations, enrollments in health plans qualified under the Affordable Care Act are surging Monday toward — and maybe beyond — the 7-million figure projected by the Congressional Budget Office before Oct. 1, when the open-enrollment period began. The deadline for starting enrollment applications for 2014 plans is midnight Monday.

The surge is creating a big problem for the “train wreck” narrative of Republican opponents of the ACA, who have been holding out hope for Obamacare’s utter failure. So the excuse-making has begun.  Read More

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Vidant Pungo

Vidant Pungo Hospital
Photo: www.vidanthealth.com

The failure to expand Medicaid appeared to have sealed the fate of Vidant Pungo Hospital in the small town of Belhaven. Now, there appears to be some promising news in the fight to keep services flowing from a hospital that served many lower income North Carolinians. Congrats to our own Adam Linker for his fine work in making this happen. This is from the NAACP:

GREENVILLE, NC -The North Carolina NAACP, the NAACP Branches in Hyde and Beaufort Counties and the leadership of Vidant Health are pleased to announce this morning at 9 am that they have worked out an agreement to keep Vidant Pungo Hospital open.

Vidant Pungo Hospital and its emergency facilities will remain open and operated by Vidant Health through July 1, 2014. Over the next three months, Vidant Health will work with the community to help them establish a representative community-based board that will accept full operating control of the hospital in a transfer by July 1, 2014. Read More