April 27, 2017

Free-Market Activists Plan to Question Humana Executives About Willingness to Work with Trump, Congress on Health Care Reform

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

Humana’s Steadfast Support of ObamaCare Could Lose Company a Seat at the Table in Setting New Health Care Agenda

After Working with Liberal Politicians to Advance Obama-Era Failed Health Care Policies, Humana Owes it to American People to Work with Trump Team and Congressional Conservatives

Louisville, KY / Washington, DC – At this week’s annual meeting of Humana shareholders, the nation’s leading proponent of free-market investor activism plans to offer the insurer’s executives an opportunity to repudiate its long-standing support for failed ObamaCare policies and embrace market-based alternatives advanced by the White House and some members of Congress.

Humana’s shareholder meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 20, 2017, at the company’s headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.  This will be the third time a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project(FEP) has attended a Humana shareholder meeting.

“This is the third time we will address Humana executives about ObamaCare’s failings, and we hope they will have a more open mind this time,” said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who plans to attend on Thursday and participated in a past Humana shareholder meeting.  “With President Trump determined to set a new course on health care policy and the congressional leadership behind his efforts, Humana risks losing a seat at the table if they continue to provide support for a system they won’t even work with anymore.” 

On April 20, the National Center will post the text of its prepared question for Humana executives prominently on the National Center website after the shareholder meeting starts (which can be accessed here after posting).  Any comments from the Free Enterprise Project after the meeting will be also be available on the site (directly accessible here ) within hours of the conclusion of the meeting.

At previous shareholder meetings, Humana CEO Bruce Broussard refused to cede any ground to National Center representatives who questioned him about the company’s support for ObamaCare.  In 2014, when the National Center’s David Hogberg, Ph.D. asked Broussard if Humana would pledge not to take a bailout from ObamaCare’s “risk adjustment” scheme, Broussard refused and said the money would “ensure that our members have an affordable plan.”  In 2015, Danhof questioned Humana’s support of ObamaCare through an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case of King v. Burwelldespite the Humana website noting ObamaCare “falls short in addressing. . . rising costs.”  Danhof brought copies of a dozen free-market ObamaCare alternatives to that meeting and asked Broussard to consider working with conservatives on a free-market alternative.  Broussard would not commit to working with conservatives, but Humana recently announced plans to exit ObamaCare’s health care exchanges in 2018.

“Humana and other large insurance companies worked in lock-step with the Obama Administration and liberal congressmembers to advance, promote and defend ObamaCare.  We repeatedly brought concerns over ObamaCare’s market-distorting schemes to their attention, but our concerns were dismissed. Now that Humana and other insurers are exiting many ObamaCare exchanges and otherwise suffering the ill effects of the law, the timing is optimal for a new path forward,” said Danhof.  “While the most recent congressional effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare has stalled, there will be plenty of opportunities to enact change.  Humana owes it to the American people to work with President Trump and Congress to craft policies that expand access to care and drive down health care costs.”

Earlier this year, another health care provider indicated to the National Center that it would be willing to work on replacing ObamaCare.  Walgreens Boots Alliance Chairman James Skinner told Danhof at the pharmacy giant’s annual shareholder meeting that his company would be willing to work with the Trump Administration in finding a free-market alternative to ObamaCare.

Launched in 2007, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group – focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business.  Since 2014, National Center representatives have participated in nearly 100 shareholder meetings to advance free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues.  The Humana meeting will mark FEP’s fifth shareholder meeting attended so far in 2017.

The National Centers Free Enterprise Project activism has yielded a tremendous return on investment:

  • FEPs highly-publicized questioning of support for the Clinton Foundation by Boeing and General Electric helped trigger an FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundations activities that dominated the 2016 presidential campaign.  
  • FEP inquiries prompted Facebook to address political bias against conservatives in social media.
  •  Company executives acknowledged media bias at ABC News (Disney), the Washington Post and CNN (Time Warner) in response to FEPs challenges, which helped to bring about more objective reporting and more balanced political representation.
  • FEPs Employee Conscience Protection Project strengthened protections for the political beliefs and activities of over five million workers at 13 major U.S. corporations.
So far in 2017, media featuring the FEP has included the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Breitbart, WorldNetDaily, Drudge Report, Business Insider, CNET, National Public Radio, American Family Radio and SiriusXM. In 2016, the FEP was also featured in the Washington Times, the Fox News Channel’s “Cavuto,” the Financial Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Lifezette, theSeattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune among many others.  The Free Enterprise Project was also featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassels 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech(Hachette Book Group).

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank.  Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations.  It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.  Sign up for email updates here.  Follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements.  To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at@NCPPRMedia.

As ObamaCare Fades, What’s the Future of American Health Care?

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

Free Market Leader Plans to Question Pharmaceutical Giant Walgreens About Its Promotion of ObamaCare While Dumping Private Plans for its Employees

National Center for Public Policy Research Set to Ask Walgreens Executives Whether the Company is Willing to Support President Trump’s Plan to Repeal and Replace ObamaCare

New York, N.Y./Washington, D.C.  –  Less than two blocks from Trump Tower in New York City, at today’s annual meeting of Walgreens Boots Alliance shareholders, a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research plans to ask the pharmaceutical giant’s CEO – Stefano Pessina – about the company’s promotion of the Affordable Care Act while it simultaneously dropped health care coverage for many of its employees. Pessina will also be asked whether the company will work with President Donald Trump’s administration to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

“Walgreens is in a unique position when it comes to the American health care system.  As a leading pharmaceutical chain, it worked closely with the Obama Administration to promote the Affordable Care Act by having its employees help customers navigate the ObamaCare exchanges.  However, many of those same employees were dropped from the company’s private health care plan because of high compliance costs associated with ObamaCare.  This burdened more than 150,000 Walgreens employees with the rising costs of health care,” said National Center General Counsel and Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who will attend today’s meeting in New York City.  “Walgreens should commit to covering the increased health insurance costs for its employees who lost their coverage.  The company should also seize upon the current political climate and work with the Trump Administration to improve health care choice and access while controlling costs.”

Beginning in 2014, Walgreens dropped 160,000 employees from its private health insurance plans and directed them to enroll in a health care exchange.  It was reported that this move was done, in part, because of high ObamaCare compliance costs.   This shifted the burden of potential higher future health-related insurance costs from the company to its employees.  While Walgreens apparently covered these costs in 2014, it is unclear what the company plans to do going forward.  That’s one question Danhof will ask Walgreens executives later today. 

“Walgreens employees are the face of the company.  It was rather duplicitous of company executives to ask their staff to push ObamaCare onto Walgreens customers while concurrently dropping them from the company’s health plan.  It appears that Walgreens employees, like so many other Americans, could not keep their plan if they liked their plan,” added Danhof.  “Walgreens employees got a bad deal.  The company choose to support ObamaCare, but decided it didn’t want to bear the brunt of increased health insurance costs.  Today, I am going to ask that the company to do right by its employees and pledge to cover these health care costs.  One way that the company might control costs is by working with the Trump Administration as they repeal and replace ObamaCare.” 

President Trump has already begun the process of dismantling the Affordable Care Act.  Last Friday, he issued an executive order requesting that federal agencies relieve the financial burdens of ObamaCare for the American people.  He also expressed a strong willingness to work with Congress on a large-scale repeal and replacement of ObamaCare.  Danhof plans to ask Walgreens executives whether the company will work with President Trump’s Administration as it implements a new health care agenda. 

“The opportunities for the large-scale reforms being sought by President Trump and his team are rare in Washington, D.C.  The President has shown a strong desire to work with American corporations to ensure quality American jobs and growth at home.  The health care sector is no exception,” said Danhof.  “Walgreens has a unique opportunity to help shape a better health care system for all Americans.  In doing so, it can amend for past support of ObamaCare and its top-down system that has harmed so many American families.”  

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a Walgreens Boots Alliance shareholder. 

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business.  Since 2014, National Center representatives have participated in 89 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues.  Today’s Walgreens meeting marks the National Center’s first shareholder meeting of 2017. 

In 2016, the Free Enterprise Project was featured in the Washington Post, the Washington Times, Fox News Channel’s “Cavuto,” the Drudge Report, the Financial Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Newsmax, Daily Caller, Lifezette, the Seattle Times, the Quad City Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Chicago Tribune among many others.  The Free Enterprise Project was also featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kim Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank.  Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations.  It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.  Sign up for free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements.  To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by NationalCenter staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia.

2nd Amendment a Right – Government Must Buy Me Guns

BernieRightHealthCare

The Rockefeller Medicine Men

*Update* – September 25, 2015, 11:42 a.m. Scroll down for update.

“The crisis in today’s health care system is deeply rooted in the interwoven history of modern medicine and corporate capitalism. The major groups and forces that shaped the medical system sowed the seeds of the crisis we now face. The medical profession and other medical interest groups each tried to make medicine serve their own narrow economic and social interests. Foundations and other corporate class institutions insisted that medicine serve the needs of “their” corporate capitalist society. The dialectic of their common efforts and their clashes, and the economic and political forces set in motion by their actions, shaped the system as it grew. Out of this history emerged a medical system that poorly serves society’s health needs.”

http://www.garynorth.com/Rocke…

ObamaCare Exchanges Are Set to Create a Host of New Problems and Exacerbate Old Ones

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

‘Glitch’ in Subsidy Mechanism Means Many Exchange Consumers Could Pay Higher Premiums

Customers Will Find Insurance with Even Skinnier Networks; Exchanges Will Move One Step Closer to Death Spiral

Dr. David Hogberg, Health Care Policy Analyst, Available to Discuss What to Expect from Exchanges’ Second Open Enrollment Season

Washington, DC – While a repeat of last year’s disaster is unlikely when ObamaCare exchanges re-open this Saturday, they will still be plagued with problems.

“Consumers who enrolled last year are likely to see the premiums spike, especially if they received a subsidy,” said Dr. David Hogberg, health care policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research. “Further, if enrollment is anything like it was last year, then the exchanges are headed for big problems down the road.”

About 83 percent of exchange enrollees have received a premiums subsidy. Many of them may see their subsidy amount drop because of the way the subsidy is calculated. It is based on the second-lowest cost silver plan, and that plan will likely be cheaper on most exchanges this year. That could mean hefty premium hikes for people who don’t change their plans.

Enrollees shouldn’t expect the “skinny networks” in most exchange plans to gain any weight. Most indications are that insurers are sticking with provider networks that offer limited choice of physicians and hospitals in order to keep costs down.

Expect the risk pools on the exchanges to deteriorate. The enrollees on the exchange are already older and sicker than is optimal for an insurance risk pool. Under such conditions, a death spiral will eventually occur, causing premiums to skyrocket, prompting younger and healthier enrollees to drop out. This leaves the risk pools even sicker and older, and the process repeats. The Obama Administration was counting on the new enrollees to balance out the risk pools, but recently the Administration admitted that only 2 to 3 million new people will likely sign up, far short of the 6 million projected by the Congressional Budget Office.

Finally, as the risk pools worsen, expect the insurance company bailout–i.e., the “risk corridors”– to cost the taxpayers even more next year. If the pools are even older and sicker than they were before, the bailout will be even greater than the $1 billion that the risk corridors are expected to cost for 2014.

“Last year, the problems with the exchanges were readily apparent,” said Dr. Hogberg. “This year the problems might be less apparent, but they are just as serious.”

Facts and Figures

• An analysis by the Colorado state government found that lower-cost silver plans could reduce subsidies to the point that exchange consumers could see their premiums rise by an average of 77 percent if they keep their current plans.

• The regulations governing ObamaCare exchanges have worsened the quality of insurance plans. To cover the cost of the regulations and keep premiums even remotely reasonable, insurers had to increase out-of-pocket costs and reduce provider networks. A National Center for Public Policy Research study found there was an average of 33 policies for a 27-year-old on the individual market in 2013 that had both lower premiums and lower or equal out-of-pocket costs than the cheapest policy on the exchange. There were ten such policies for a 57-year-old couple. It also found that network quality declined. The average number of preferred provider organization plans on the exchange declined when compared to the individual market while the number of plans with more restrictive health maintenance organizations (HMO) increased considerably.

• In California, insurers on the exchange plan to keep the skinny provider networks despite substantial consumer criticism. Los Angeles Times analysis of company data shows that some networks will continue to shrink. Insurer HealthNet, the Times says, is dumping one of its Preferred Provider Network plans and “switching to a plan with 54 percent fewer doctors and no out-of-network coverage, state data show.” Adding insult to injury, the premiums are increasing nine percent. The Times reports the company said “its cutbacks were necessary to avoid even steeper rate hikes.”

• The exchanges have reduced competition. A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that consumers had access to an average of 36 insurers in their states in 2012. That dropped to an average of three on the ObamaCare exchanges. Large insurers were the most likely to participate on the exchanges, while “most smaller issuers with less than 5 percent of the 2012 market did not participate in the 2014 exchanges,” according to the GAO report. It’s not clear why the small companies didn’t participate, but Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) identified perhaps the likeliest reason when he said, “the GAO report provides evidence that the health care law’s burdensome requirements may be giving an unfair advantage to big insurers over smaller ones.”

• Only 28 percent of exchange enrollees are between the ages of 18-34, far short of the 38 to 40 percent the Obama Administration said would be needed to keep the risk pools stable.

• A good indicator of a person’s health is his or her self-reported health status. A Gallup poll found that newly-insured people who obtained policies on the exchanges self-reported being less healthy, on average. About 37 percent said they were in excellent or very good health while 22 percent said they were in fair or poor health. Among the entire adult population, the corresponding numbers are 50 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

• Research from Express Scripts shows that about 1.3 percent of prescriptions filled for exchange enrollees were specialty drugs. The comparable number in other private plans is about 0.8 percent. That may not seem like a big difference, but specialty drugs are usually quite expensive. As the Express Scripts’ study notes, “despite comprising less than 1% of all U.S. prescriptions, specialty medications now account for more than 25% of total pharmacy” spending.

• Most of the 15 health insurance companies and 23 health co-ops that cover nearly 80 percent of exchange enrollees expect to receive money from ObamaCare’s risk corridor. The total amount they will receive is estimated at $725 million. If extrapolated over all companies and co-ops on the exchange, the bailout could come to $1 billion for 2014.

What the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Dr. David Hogberg Says About the ObamaCare Exchanges:

• “Many supporters of ObamaCare insisted that the health insurance exchanges created by the law would result in consumers having a greater choice among insurance policies and lower prices. This study tests those claims by examining policies on the exchanges in metropolitan areas across 45 states for a single 27-year-old and a 57-year-old couple. It then compares those with the policies available in those same areas on eHealthInsurance.com (eHealth) and Finder.healthcare.gov (Finder) in 2013. The results show that the claims that the ObamaCare exchanges would offer greater choice and lower prices did not hold up. A 27-year-old male had, on average, ten more policies to choose from on eHealth versus the exchange and 31 more on Finder. A 27-year-old female had an average of ten more insurance options on eHealth and 38 on Finder. There were an average of nine more policies on eHealth and 19 more on Finder for a 57-year-old couple. Consumers also previously had more lower-cost options than they now have on the exchanges. A 27-year-old male had, on average, access to 32 policies on eHealth that cost less than the cheapest policy on the exchanges and 38 policies that cost less on Finder. There were an average of 18 cheaper policies on eHealth and 20 on Finder for a 27-year-old female. A 57-year-old couple had access to an average of 29 cheaper polices on eHealth compared to the lowest-cost policy on the exchange and 28 on Finder.”

• “When millions of people in the individual health insurance market lost their health plans in late 2013, ObamaCare supporters claimed those lost plans were ‘substandard’ or ‘crappy.’ However, they failed to support that contention. [The fact is] there were many policies on the individual market that had lower premiums and lower or equal deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums than the cheapest plans now available on the exchanges. It also finds that the individual market prior to the exchanges offered a greater choice of hospitals and physicians since it contained far more PPO policies than HMO policies, whereas the exchanges offer more HMO policies.”

• “If the exchanges do not attract a sufficient number of people in the 18-34 age demographic, they will eventually enter an insurance ‘death spiral.’ This occurs when the young and healthy drop out of the ‘insurance pool.’ This leads to ‘adverse selection’ in which insurance is only attractive to those who are generally older and sicker. If the insurance pool is comprised largely of people who are older and sicker, then insurance prices will rise to cover their costs. That rate increase causes even more young and healthy people to drop their insurance, leaving the pools even older and sicker than before, and so on. Eventually, all but a few insurers will be forced to discontinue their business on the exchanges because they can no longer make a profit. Fewer insurers means less competition, resulting in even higher insurance premiums.”

What Others Are Saying About the ObamaCare Exchanges:

• Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute: “A bigger question is how many enrollees were previously insured and were just changing plans. Overall, the best estimates suggest that roughly 8 million people gained insurance under ObamaCare, but roughly half of those were enrolled in Medicaid (outside of the exchanges), which isn’t really health-care reform so much as adding people to government welfare. And it still leaves 41 million American adults uninsured. We spent billions to move the needle a tick.” – Michael Tanner, Cato Institute

• Writing in Forbes, Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Avik Roy said, “ObamaCare forces insurers to offer more benefits, requires them to spend more money on health expenses, and subsidizes the consumption of richer insurance packages. The laws of economics dictate that these costs will get passed down to consumers…. ObamaCare [also] forces insurers to charge their eldest beneficiaries no more than 3 times what they charge their youngest ones: a policy known as ‘community rating.’ This, despite the fact that these older beneficiaries typically have six times the health expenditures that younger people face. The net effect of this ‘community rating’ provision is the redistribution of insurance costs from the old to the young.” – Avik Roy in Forbes

• “Mark V. Pauly, a health economist with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said that while the president and officials in his administration claimed they wanted more competition among insurers, ObamaCare has put in place regulations that limit it [on the exchanges]. ‘It’s part of the schizophrenia that the administration wanted lots of competition, but, on the other hand, they wanted to put a lid on profits that would attract competition,’ Pauly said. ‘You can’t have it both ways.'” – Richard Pollack, Washington Examiner.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active and recent contributors. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.

New Study Confirms Health Plans on Individual Market in 2013 Were Higher Quality than Plans on Exchanges

Study Shows Single 27-Year-Olds and 57-Year-Old Couples had Access to Plans with Better Cost-Sharing and Larger Provider Networks Prior to ObamaCare Exchanges

Claims by President Obama, Ed Schultz and Others that Plans in the Individual Market Were ‘Substandard’ or ‘Crappy’ Do Not Hold Up

Today is Two Months to the Day to Start of ObamaCare’s Next Open Enrollment Period

Washington, DC – The ObamaCare exchanges have reduced the quality of insurance polices when compared to what existed in 2013 on the individual market, says a just-released study from the National Center for Public Policy Research entitled, “Despite ObamaCare Supporters’ Claims, Health Insurance Plans Prior to ObamaCare Exchanges Were Neither ‘Crappy’ Nor ‘Substandard.'”

“When millions of people were losing their health insurance plans in late 2013, ObamaCare supporters claimed those plans were of poor quality, calling them substandard and even ‘crappy’,” said study author Dr. David Hogberg, health care policy analyst at the National Center. “But they never provided any evidence to support those claims. Quite to the contrary, this study shows that in important ways, the plans on the individual market it 2013 were of better quality than those on the ObamaCare exchanges.”

Today is two months to the day before the ObamaCare open enrollment period re-opens on November 15.

The study compared the cost-sharing — i.e., the deductibles and the out-of-pocket maximums — of plans on the individual market in 2013 and on the ObamaCare exchanges in ten major metropolitan areas for a 27-year-old single person and a 57-year-old couple. It also examined the provider networks, comparing the number of health maintenance organization (HMO) plans to preferred provider organizations (PPO) plans in the individual markets and ObamaCare exchanges.

It found:

• There was an average of 33 plans in each area for a 27-year-old on the individual market that had lower premiums and lower or equal deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums than the cheapest plans on the ObamaCare exchanges. Milwaukee, Wisconsin had the most such plans with an average of 68.

• For a 57-year-old couple there was an average of 10 policies in each area that had lower premiums and lower or equal cost-sharing in the 2013 individual market than the cheapest plans on the ObamaCare exchanges. Louisville, Kentucky had the most with an average of 26.

• The ObamaCare exchanges had many more of the restrictive HMO networks in their plans relative to the individual market, an average of 16 more HMO plans for both 27-year-olds and 57-year-olds.

• The less restrictive PPOs were more common in the individual markets, with an average of 32 more plans with PPOs for 27-year-olds and 25 more for 57-year-olds.

“Overall, the ObamaCare exchanges have resulted in a decline in health-plan quality,” said Dr. Hogberg. “Almost no one would consider it an improvement in quality to pay a higher premium and get less out-of-pocket coverage as was the case with policies on the exchange, and few would consider more restrictive networks to be better quality.”

“We can expect quality to continue to decline as long as ObamaCare is in place,” he said.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.