Today, a Maryland judge hears a case that pros contend may result in a ruling that stands in direct opposition to what U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas v. United States of America said Friday. Of course, Judge O’Connor ruled that the lack of the individual mandate meant that the ACA was essentially invalid. But any hoopla over the Texas ruling may be much ado about nothing, according to Sam Halabi, associate professor of law at the University of Missouri. In an email sent by the University of Missouri News Bureau, Halabi, whose research focuses on national and global health law with a specialization in the governance structures of firms in health-related sectors, put it like this:
A U.S. judge’s decision declaring the individual mandate unconstitutional and the Affordable Care Act invalid Friday likely will not result in a complete repeal of the law. Instead, the decision will trigger an appeal to higher federal courts likely to narrow or send back the ruling as well as intervention on behalf of policyholders by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Halabi’s best guess is that this ruling will, at the very least, be narrowed, and perhaps rejected altogether. The majority of the law will remain intact, which, he says, is good news for consumers and health care providers. Of course, repeal of the law would destabilize both the insurance and health care industries and leave many Americans without coverage.
Covered Cal Weighs In
In light of the Texas ruling, Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee issued this written statement:
“Open enrollment is full-steam ahead in California and continues in other states for several more weeks. No one in America should let this Texas District Court ruling discourage them from enrolling in health coverage or be worried about using the health coverage they have. This case will wind its way through the courts and I’m confident the Supreme Court will once again do the right thing and uphold the Affordable Care Act.”
CAHU: ACA Law of the Land, Don’t Miss Jan. Webinar!
After the Texas ruling CAHU also released a statement saying that the ACA remains the law of the land. For more insight on legislative impacts, CAHU will offer a webinar on Jan. 16, 3 p.m. Register here.
On The Dose: Does Having an Individual Mandate Actually Make for Freedom?
Now this is counter intuitive… On the Commonwealth Fund’s podcast, The Dose, a healthcare expert argues that having an individual mandate makes us more free. Shanoor Seervai talks to Don Moulds about what freedom means when it comes to health care. Don argues that getting rid of the mandate restricts freedom in America, because having health insurance frees us from the fear that if we fall ill, we may not have access to care. So listen in here.
Aflac Inc. to Sell 7% to Japan Post
Aflac announced Japan Post Holdings Co. Ltd. is set to buy 7 percent of the company for about $2.4 billion. Japan Post, a postal and financial conglomerate majority-owned by the government, will acquire the stake in Aflac through open market or private block purchases. Aflac is the oldest and largest cancer insurance provider in Japan.
MIB Data: Younger Americans Not Buying Life
They may have been thankful in November, but they weren’t concerned about the future…that’s what some life insurers might think about younger Americans. New data from MIB says the number of U.S. residents ages 44 and younger who applied for coverage in November 2018 was 9.4 percent lower than in November 2017. This follows a 7.3 percent year-over-year drop for the 44-and-under age group in October. Of course, we should think of something cute to say about Halloween, but we’ll just leave it here instead. Okay?
Prescription Drug Outlook
Scott Vogel has an excellent post over on Benefits Pro that explains what we can expect in 2019 as far as changes in the prescription drug landscape. Vogel predicts that the industry will be transformed. Industry disruptors will gain traction, doctors will become increasingly invested in how much drugs cost a patient and transparency (hello, rebates) will be a top issue. Read the whole post here.
Employee Benefits Outlook
EBN has highlighted the top 10 employee benefit challenges for 2019. Most are expected — i.e. keeping up with federal and state laws, offering the right benefits and dealing with employee drug use, especially where marijuana is legal. Maybe we shouldn’t have been, but we were surprised that “dealing with employee violence” made the list!
Limelight Health Welcomes Peter Espinosa as Vice President of Enterprise Sales and Alliances
Limelight Health, a provider of cloud-based enterprise software solutions for the employee benefits industry, announced that Peter Espinosa will join the company as vice president of enterprise sales and alliances.
VCAHU Charity 5k Walk/Run
Event is Saturday, January 12, 2019, Ventura
$40 registration, register before Jan. 10 4:59pm. Register here.
VCAHU is extremely excited to bring the community together in an effort to raise a goal of $10,000 in order to have a Children’s Dream Racer built for Ventura County Medical Center’s Pediatric Unit / PICU. Children’s Dream Racer is a child-sized version of a real NASCAR race car. Built by retired NASCAR builder and founder of CDR, Mark “Smitty” Smith. These cars are built from the same materials used to fabricate a real NASCAR. Smitty’s mission is to place a Children’s Dream Racer in hospitals and cancer centers all across the U.S. so that children going through treatment have a chance to escape the worries of their circumstances for even a few moments out of their day. Proceeds generated from the 5k will go toward the build and delivery of the Children’s Dream Racer.
PIMA’s 2019 Industry Insights Conference
January 24-27, 2019, Margaritaville Beach Resort, Hollywood, Florida
Registration is now open for the Professional Insurance Marketing Association (PIMA) Industry Insights Conference. The conference will host expert speakers from leading companies around the country including Facebook, Forrester and Action Surge. Conference promises to explore new product and distribution trends; emerging markets that harness growth in new areas; social marketing to drive insurance business; marketing to Millennials and Gen Z; and an insurance industry overview of blockchain. Early bird registration and housing deadline is December 14, 2018. Visit PIMA’s conference page for more details and to register or call 817-569-7462 (PIMA).
IICF Horizon Award GALA and IICF Global Conference –Save the dates!
March 21, 2019, Downtown Los Angeles
June 12-14, 2019, New York City
LAAHU Annual Conference — Save the date!
LAAHU’s Annual Conference is the largest in the state and includes updates from DC, breakout sessions for IFP, small group, large group and medicare. It’s a don’t miss! More info to come soon.