Morning Action: Young People and Obamacare Aren’t Mixing in Colorado

OBAMACARE.  It turns out that many young Coloradans can’t foot the bill for Obamacare, and they’re not opting to purchase Obamacare plans:

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 40 percent of people ages 18 to 34 need to sign up for health insurance to defray the costs of coverage for older, sicker people, but so far those figures in Colorado and nationally are half that number.

Obamacare proponents say they have several years to meet that goal. Both sides agree that if young people do not start signing up in greater numbers, premiums will increase for every insured person. However, it’s unclear how large the increases would be.

About 30 percent of Colorado exchange users are 55 to 64 years old — the oldest group of people before Medicare kicks in. Census figures show that age group is about 12 percent of the Colorado population, so older people are signing up at nearly three times the size of their population.

Only 7 percent of Coloradans signing up are between 18 and 24 — below their population percentage — and 16 percent are 25 to 34, about equal to their population.

There’s a better way.

DEMOCRAT.  Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV) 21% is the first Democrat senator to say he will repeal Obamacare:

A first Democratic senator has indicated he thinks it might be time to scrap Obamacare. While legislators should work to fix the law in the meantime, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia told Beckley’s Register Herald that he would support getting rid of the law entirely.

“I will vote tomorrow to repeal [the Affordable Care Act], but I want to fix the problems in it,” Manchin told an audience.

He described the law as a product that the government has failed to “sell.” Manchinmade similar comments in November when he said Obamacare was “more than a rollout problem — there is a product problem.”

MEDICARE.  Upcoming Medicare Advantage cuts have prompted bipartisan protests (sub. req’d):

As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services prepares to announce new payment rates for Medicare Advantage plans, health insurers are rallying seniors and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to pressure the administration to block expected cuts.

The insurers are hoping that thanks to their lobbying blitz, history will repeat, given that CMS reversed a similar proposed cut in 2013 following an outcry. But they’re also up against research and long-standing recommendations from policy analysts who say that payments to Medicare Advantage should be equal to those in traditional Medicare. In addition, revenue from the reductions is used to pay for the health care law.

The lawmakers who are asking CMS to maintain current payment rates for the increasingly popular private Medicare plans range from House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) 9%, third in the Senate Democratic leadership.

CHAINED CPI.  President Obama may drop chained CPI from his new budget request for fiscal 2015 (sub. req’d):

President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget request will stick to the discretionary spending caps set by the budget agreement Congress cleared last year but will not include a proposal to overhaul mandatory programs by shifting to a “chained consumer price index,” an acknowledgment by the Obama administration that a larger budget bargain is no longer a driving imperative.

A White House official said Thursday that the offer for a plan that would reduce future spending on Social Security, included in administration budget proposals in previous years, remains open if congressional Republicans and Democrats return to negotiations toward a so-called grand bargain. But in dropping a plan Obama had also offered in earlier deficit reduction talks, the president is aligning his budget plan with the limited scope of the two-year deal lawmakers struck last December.

“The offer to Speaker Boehner remains on the table for whenever the Republicans decide they want to engage in a serious discussion about a balanced plan to deal with our long-term fiscal challenges that includes closing loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and corporations,” the official said, speaking of negotiations Obama held with House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio.



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