Here at LifeHealthPro, we queried our top industry contacts in order to cut through the morass of speculation and get down to tangible implications the election will have on the industry. Read on for eight key opinions anticipating the next four years.
Thomas Mangan, chief executive officer of United Benefits Advisors said:
“I think the voters spoke loud and clear. A majority want to keep the health law. The idea that Congress will come up with enough bipartisan spirit to fix the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in ways that would make the law work better is probably wishful thinking. If Republicans and Democrats did want to work together to improve PPACA, one place to start might be to come up with measures to keep employers from evading PPACA requirements that apply to large employers by turning full-time workers into part-timers,” Mangan said.
Bonnie Burns, a consultant at California Health Advocates and someone who helps speak for consumers’ interests in National Association of Insurance Commissioners proceedings:
Burns, who works directly with consumers and people who advise consumers, said she had worried that a Romney administration would have imposed even more drastic limits on Medicare than Obama has proposed.
But Burns said she is still worried about Obama administration proposals to impose a tax on seniors who buy “near first dollar” Medicare supplement insurance policies to fill in some of the gaps in basic traditional Medicare coverage.
Medicare supplement plans — also known as Medigap plans — can help consumers cover the cost of basic Medicare deductibles, co-payment requirements and coinsurance requirements, and Medigap plans also may cover products and services that basic Medicare does not cover.
Federal law limits insurers to selling standardized Medigap packages designated by letters such as C, F and G.
One problem is that the people who speak for Medicare program enrollees are not sure what the Obama administration means when it refers to “near first dollar” Medigap coverage, Burns said.
The administration seems to be referring to the most comprehensive Medigap plan types — plans C and F — but some fear that the administration could be using the term “near first dollar coverage” to refer to just about all Medigap plans, Burns said.
Whether discouraging ordinary consumers from seeing the doctor really saves money in the long run is questionable, and, “with Medicare beneficiaries, that’s an especially dangerous idea,” Burns said.
Image: In this June 28, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks about the Supreme Court ruling on health care in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Stephen Moses, president of the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, a group that supports efforts to change federal and state policies in ways that encourage middle-income and upper-income Americans to finance their own long-term care needs:
Moses said he thinks the election results mean that the current policies will stay in place, and that it’s unlikely that policymakers will do much to stabilize Medicaid or Medicare.
“We’re on a course for complete disaster,” Moses said. “It’s dangerous, and it’s sad.”
The United States has accumulated trillions of dollars in new debt since 2008, and budget projections show that the country is on track to accumulate trillions of dollars in additional debt in the next few years, Moses said
“At some point,” he said, “you can no longer borrow that type of money. Nobody’s going to be willing to lend you that kind of money at interest rates approaching 0 percent.”
Image:President Barack Obama clasps hands with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., left, and Virginia Democratic Senate Candidate, former Gov. Timothy Kaine, right, during a campaign stop at the historic Fire Station No.1, in downtown Roanoke, Va., Friday, July 13, 2012. (AP Photo /Don Petersen)
Joel Wood, senior vice president of government affairs for the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (CIAB), and the Council’s top lobbyist on Capitol Hill:
“The ACA has survived a Supreme Court challenge and the election, and there is no chance that the Obama Administration is going to bail on any major aspect of the reform. But it is virtually impossible for me to imagine that legislative evolution isn’t going to occur. The Medicaid doughnut hole can’t be addressed through an executive order. The potential “subsidy gap” (wherein there will be challenges on the basis that the statutory language doesn’t provide subsidies for those in a national exchange) will need to be cleaned up. It is practically impossible that the exchange development implementation goals can be met. The cost of the subsidies will be put on the table by Republican leaders during fiscal cliff negotiations. We’re not naïve here, but there are going to be opportunities to address many of these issues, and it’s in the interest of the Administration to attempt to achieve accommodations that work.”