In an interview for CNBC’s On The Money, Dr. Kenneth Davis, president and CEO of Mount Sinai Health System, acknowledged the achievements of President Obama’s flagship initiative in expanding access to affordable healthcare across America.
It’s a view backed up by the recent CDC study that shows patient access to health care has improved markedly since Obamacare was launched.
The number of uninsured Americans is now under 10 percent, its lowest level since 1972. In the first three months of 2015, 29 million persons of all ages (9.2 percent) were uninsured at the time of the interview, 7 million fewer persons. Among children under age 18 years, the percentage with private coverage increased reversing a 14-year trend. Obamacare has been central in partnering with providers such as NCHS in bringing healthcare to low-income patients and deprived communities.
But Davis warned of problems on the horizon for Obamacare, “Premiums are going up, deductibles are higher and that’s a problem. What it’s all about is that not enough healthy people have signed up.”
This is partly due to penalties embodied by the individual mandate being too low. According to HealthCare.gov, penalties for not having health insurance in 2016 will be 2.5 percent of household income, an increase from last year’s penalties, which were 2 percent of income.
Davis says the higher penalties may be enough to encourage more healthy young people between the ages of 25 and 35 to join, and increase the pool of healthy, younger applicants.
The costs of insurance are diminished by distributing it over a larger population, but Obamacare’s age gap and the number of young people currently signed up is about 26 percent.
Mergers in the insurance industry are another challenge. Anthem recently announced a $54 billion purchase of Cigna, and Humana is being acquired by Aetna, deals that would cut the nation’s top five insurance companies to three if approved by federal regulators.
The comments from the head of one of America’s biggest healthcare providers come a week after President Obama used executive power to veto a bill that contained provisions to repeal of the Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as Obamacare), and also withdraw funding for Planned Parenthood.
It was the 62nd time Republicans have tried to fully or partially scupper the President’s signature health-care initiative, but the first to be passed in both bodies of Congress.
The measure passed easily, 240 to 181, and proved a Republican congressional majority could successfully deliver a measure that repeals Obamacare should a Republican president win office.
Despite President Obama’s rejection of the bill, Republicans were still defiant. House Speaker Paul Ryan insisted “one way or another, Obamacare is going.” But on CBS’s Face the Nation, Speaker Ryan was pressed on the Republican failure to offer an alternative to current health care reform law, despite having six-and-a-half years to do so.
In a veto message to Congress, President Obama was forceful and direct in his explanation.
“Because of the harm this bill would cause to the health and financial security of millions of Americans, it has earned my veto. This legislation would cost millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage they deserve. Reliable health care coverage would no longer be a right for everyone: it would return to being a privilege for a few”
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