ACA enrollment is up 18%
The Friday Pulse Check
Good morning and happy Friday. Welcome to the Friday Pulse Check; a weekly newsletter from Fulcrum Strategies and FLATLINING that shares some of the most interesting news stories in the healthcare world.
In the news:
Paxlovid is free… for now
As we reported a few months ago, Moderna (MRNA 0.00) , Pfizer (PFE 0.00), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.00) have begun to announce what the sale price will be for their COVID-19 vaccines. This is because the federal government has announced that they will soon stop purchasing their vaccines on behalf of US residents. Similarly, Pfizer is gearing up to start selling its COVID-19 oral treatment, Paxlovid, to the private healthcare market as well. Though they haven’t said what the price will be, it will undoubtedly be more than what the federal government pays. Like with the COVID-19 vaccines, however, it will likely be free or very low cost for patients with insurance or on Medicare. Read more on CBS News.
The Colorado Option is on the market
This is another update to a story we talked about several weeks ago on the FLATLINING Podcast. Since we are now in the open enrollment period for both Medicare and plans for the Affordable Care Act, Coloradans now have the option to pick the Colorado Option in their ACA marketplace. As we discussed in July, the Colorado Option is a bit of a misnomer. It isn’t a public option in the same way President Biden has called for a public option; that is where the government basically runs an insurance company (like Medicare) and it is available to purchase by average consumers. Rather, the Colorado Option is de facto forced commerce by the state government on the insurance companies to sell a plan they don’t want to sell and force doctors to take it. Read more from Kaiser Health News.
ACA enrollment is up 18% so far
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that there have been 5.5 million enrollments in Affordable Care Act plans across the country in the first five weeks of open enrollment. That is 18% more than this time last year. That number includes 1.2 million new enrollments and 4.3 million renewals. Why the double digit growth? Some analysts say it is because of new enrollment subsidies that allow more people to qualify. Read more from Fierce Healthcare.
Slippery slopes, subscription based healthcare, and reform/revolt
Those were all different things we discussed this week on the FLATLINING Podcast in an episode we called “Questionable Analysis.” In our first topic, we took on the right-wing narrative that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was an “abject failure.” It was based on an opinion/analysis piece written by Carl Schramm in the City Journal. He had a set of complaints about the CDC (all of which we have heard before) and was questioning President Biden’s proposal to increase its budget.
First, I don’t like to super political when talking about people’s opinions but this is a notion that is exclusively coming from the right. For the sake of partiality, I will not call it “Republican” or “Conservative” but will stick with “right-wing.”
Second, that being said, Schramm’s point about the inability of money to solve any problem rings true with many aspects of the federal government. I am frequently critical of government agencies (including local, state, and federal) claiming that their problems would all be solved by more money. Public schools claim this all the time, as do public broadcasters, affordable housing gurus, and road maintenance depots. In my observations, money hasn’t solved any of these problems. So, with Schramm we may agree there.
His underlying message is where we differ. Schramm claims that, overall, the CDC’s performance during the pandemic was an abject failure. He criticizes changing policy, the “celebretization” of public health officials, and the influence a few had on the many.
What Schramm, and others who also carry his tune, conveniently forgets is that this is how American society normally works regardless of the field that it is in. I’ll share a few examples.
Elon Musk was, at one point, the darling of progressives because he developed and popularized an electric car and was the first to do so. I would argue it is Tesla’s popularity, not the prospect of policy change, that is forcing General Motors (GM 0.00), Ford (FORD 0.00), and Stellantis (formerly Fiat-Chrysler) (STLA 0.00) to develope and market their electric cars.
Musk has changed and developed Tesla’s product over the past few years, he became extremely popular because of his success, and it has had a huge influence on auto manufacturing and American drivers.
What’s the difference? He isn’t a government employee. Here is an example of someone who was.
Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, I would argue fits the same three categories Musk and public health officials do. She, because of her nature as a politician and being married to one as well, undoubtedly saw her views change. She was widely popular and she pioneered America’s involvement in the United Nations.
“But she didn’t force policy on anyone.” I beg to differ. America’s involvement in the UN is expensive and, some would argue, provides minimal benefit to the United States. The Security Council has proven useless against human rights abuses in China and the war in Ukraine because of the veto power granted to the People’s Republic of China and Russia.
The bottom line of my point is this: Schramm and others on the right ignoring the fact that science develops. Folks on the right saw that there were political points to be scored during the pandemic because they could be markedly different in their response to the pandemic.
If you want more analysis like that on Medicare for All, socialized medicine, and a primary care model that works like Netflix, check out this week’s episode of the FLATLINING Podcast.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin is insisting he will persist in his rocket attacks against Ukraine. This new threat poses a total blackout to Ukraine. As I have mentioned for several weeks now, blackouts by shelling have drastically hurt the healthcare system as hospital nurses and surgeons have to work by flashlight. Read more from CTV News.
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Have a good weekend,