Andrew Sprung / American Prospect:
How the Texas Legislature Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the ACA Marketplace
It’s all about pretending a boatload of federal cash helps the free market.
The Lone Star State, remember, is one of 12 states that have refused to enact the ACA Medicaid expansion, thus denying almost a million of its own residents health insurance funded almost entirely by the federal government. What’s more, until 2021, it was one of just three states to refuse to actively regulate its own ACA marketplace at all. That meant it ceded rate review (that is, scrutiny of insurers’ proposed annual premiums and authority to accept or reject them) to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The Medicaid expansion is still dead in the water there. But last June, Texas’s legislature unanimously passed, and Gov. Greg Abbott signed, a bill (SB 1296) that not only established state rate review for the marketplace, but also effectively directed the Texas Department of Insurance to mandate that all insurers price their gold plans well below the price of their comparable silver plans, and also increase the margin by which bronze plans are priced below silver.
If that sounds bizarre, you are right. Texas is taking advantage of odd quirks in the Affordable Care Act’s design to get dirt-cheap exchange coverage for its residents. Other states could stand to learn from its example.
Charles Gaba / ACA Signups:
Not Joking: Texas Republicans Pass Law Which Dramatically Improves The ACA. CMS Should Follow Suit.
So what’s the point of Silver Loading?
Well, the key to this is that the formula for the premium subsidy tax credits (APTC) is based on the cost of the benchmark Silver plan… but the subsidies themselves can be applied to ANY plan.
Notice how the Gold plan is now priced LOWER than the Silver plan? That means that an enrollee can now get a Gold plan (which have lower deductibles / other cost sharing) for less than (or around the same as) a Silver plan instead. Even more important, it means that the APTC subsidies are increased, thus making Bronze plans free (or dirt cheap) for many subsidized enrollees … and even some Gold plans.
War on the Rocks:
IS HUNGARY UKRAINE’S BIGGEST PROBLEM IN THE EUROPEAN UNION?
The most controversial non-Western relationship that Orbán has cultivated is with Putin. Orbán ran on a platform of making utilities more affordable, and so securing cheap energy supplies was a major priority for his administration. When Hungary’s long-term gas contract with Gazprom expired in 2015, Putin personally went to Budapest to sign a new sweetheart gas deal that flew in the face of regional, European priorities to decrease energy dependence on Moscow. Orbán and Putin also signed a deal for Russia’s nuclear-energy giant Rosatom to finance and build a new nuclear power plant at Paks. Orbán also critiqued EU sanctions against Moscow in the wake of the annexation of Crimea, arguing that Europe “shot itself in the foot” by alienating Russia.
Cultivating close relations with China and Russia is key to Orbán’s mobilization strategy. As an illiberal populist, Orbán mobilizes its base with anti-Western and anti-European Union sentiment. Orbán is speaking to Hungarians who feel let down by the promise of European accession. While overall the quality of life in Hungary improved after it joined the European Union, the gap between Hungary and its Western neighbors on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s “Better Life” index and GDP per capita remain significant and, moreover, many rural voters have not enjoyed the same opportunities as the liberal elite in Budapest. For Orbán, China and Russia offer an alternative to the Western liberal democracy that he blames for stymieing Hungarian greatness.
DEVOURING THE RAINFOREST
Cattle ranching, responsible for the great majority of deforestation in the Amazon, is pushing the forest to the edge of what scientists warn could be a vast and irreversible dieback that claims much of the biome. Despite agreement that change is necessary to avert disaster, despite attempts at reform, despite the resources of Brazil’s federal government and powerful beef companies, the destruction continues.
But the ongoing failure to protect the world’s largest rainforest from rapacious cattle ranching is no longer Brazil’s alone, a Washington Post investigation shows. It is now shared by the United States – and the American consumer…
In the two years since Washington lifted a moratorium that was imposed on raw Brazilian beef over food safety concerns, the United States has grown to become its second-biggest buyer. The country bought more than 320 million pounds of Brazilian beef last year – and is on pace to purchase nearly twice as much this year. The biggest supplier is the beef behemoth JBS, whose fleet of brands stock some of America’s major retail chains and businesses: Kroger, Goya Foods, Albertsons (the parent company of Safeway, Jewel-Osco and Vons).
New text messages reveal Fox’s Hannity advising Trump White House and seeking direction
CNN obtained Meadows’ 2,319 text messages, which he selectively provided in December to the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. While the logs show Meadows communicating with multiple Fox personalities, as well as a number of journalists from other organizations, Hannity stands out with 82 messages. The textsincluding dozens of newly disclosed messages, offer a real-time window into how Hannity, a close friend of Trump, was reacting to the election and its aftermath…Hannity has said he is not a journalist, and Fox does not hold him to traditional journalistic standards. He is more akin to a GOP activist and entertainer, like some of his fellow Fox hosts. In addition to Hannity, Fox’s Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, Maria Bartiromo and Brian Kilmeade all sent messages to Meadows as well.
A spokesperson for Fox did not respond to a request for comment.
John. 6 committee aims for June hearings on Capitol attack. Will they affect the 2022 elections?
The Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol attack plans hearings in June and a report this fall, putting its findings in the middle of campaign season.
Members of the committee have acknowledged the urgency of their investigation into what led to the attack Jan. 6, 2021, what happened that day and how to prevent it from occurring again. But legal battles, including one from former President Donald Trump that went all the way to the Supreme Court, have delayed the committee’s work as new lines of inquiry emerged.
Holding weeks of hearings in the heart of the primaries could highlight partisan reaction to the results. But experts say the findings of a panel led by Democrats into Trump and his Republican supporters would be political whenever they are released.
“It’s always politics season,” said Peter Loge, a media professor at George Washington University and a former chief of staff for a Democratic member of Congress.