Premiums for Affordable Care Act policies are set to rocket higher in many places in 2018. Many of the rates for next year won't be made public until November, but The New York Times found that Georgia has already approved increases of up to 57.5 percent, while the average rate in Florida will jump by about 45 percent and the average in New Mexico will climb by 30 percent. Minnesota, on the other hand, announced this week that a new state reinsurance program has helped stabilize rates and price changes for individual plans in the state will range from a decrease of 38 percent to an increase of 3 percent.
Confusion stemming from the White House and Congress, including uncertainty about whether the Trump administration will continue to make cost-sharing payments to insurers, is largely driving the increases. Keep in mind, though, that about 85 percent of people who buy insurance through Obamacare exchanges won’t feel the price hikes because their plans are subsidized — but the federal government will have to shell out more for those subsidies.
The federal government’s total non-defense discretionary spending – which covers everything from education and national parks to veterans’ medical care and low-income housing assistance – equals 3.2% of GDP in 2020, near historic lows going back to 1962, according to an analysis this week from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated this week that President Trump has now signed legislation that will add a total of $4.7 trillion to the national debt between 2017 and 2029. Tax cuts and spending increases account for similar portions of the projected increase, though if the individual tax cuts in the 2017 Republican overhaul are extended beyond their current expiration date at the end of 2025, they would add another $1 trillion in debt through 2029.
Are interest rates destined to move higher, increasing the cost of private and public debt? While many experts believe that higher rates are all but inevitable, historian Paul Schmelzing argues that today’s low-interest environment is consistent with a long-term trend stretching back 600 years.
The chart “shows a clear historical downtrend, with rates falling about 1% every 60 years to near zero today,” says Bloomberg’s Aaron Brown. “Rates do tend to revert to a mean, but that mean seems to be declining.”
Lawmakers are considering three separate bills that are intended to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Here’s an overview of the proposals, from a series of charts produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation this week. An interesting detail highlighted in another chart: 88% of voters – including 92% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans – want to give the government the power to negotiate prices with drug companies.