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Issue: "Social Impact"

Justin Haskins: Endlessly Slapped By ObamaCare

NY Post
Mon, 2015-01-26
“I’m sorry sir,” the polite Healthcare.gov customer-service agent said. “There’s nothing I can do. You’re either going to have to enroll in Medicaid or you’re going to have to pay the full health-insurance rate.” “The rate you quoted earlier?” I asked. “That’s nearly 30 percent higher than my current insurance bill, I just can’t afford it.” “You’ll have to pay the full rate, yes,” the agent replied. “I don’t understand,” I explained. “I have plenty of money to pay you a reasonable rate, but I can’t afford to pay the same rate a millionaire would be asked to pay. Why can’t I just receive a partial subsidy? I’m willing to pay more than what Medicaid offers.” “Sir, that’s just not how the system works.” Right.

Americans See Healthcare, Low Wages as Top Financial Problems

Gallup
Wed, 2015-01-21
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Healthcare costs and lack of money or low wages rank as the most important financial problems facing American families, each mentioned by 14% of U.S. adults. Fewer Americans than a year ago cite the high cost of living or unemployment, and the percentage naming oil or gas prices is down from 2012. Gallup has been asking Americans about the most important financial problem facing their family in an open-ended format for the past 10 years. Healthcare this year has returned to the top of the list for the first time since early 2010, when the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," was signed into law. Still, Americans viewed it as an even bigger financial problem in 2007, when a range of 16% to 19% said it was most important. Notably, 6% of Americans see the high cost of living or inflation as their family's biggest financial problem, down from 13% just over three years ago.

H&R Block: ‘No One Can Understand’ New Obamacare Tax Code

The Daily Caller
Wed, 2015-01-21
Posted By Richard Pollock H&R Block, the nation’s largest retail tax preparation company warns that the newly released Obamacare tax code, officially called the Affordable Care Act, is likely to confuse millions of taxpayers who try to tackle their tax returns for 2014. “Now that the Affordable Care Act has made health care a tax issue, no one can understand it,” H&R Block flatly tells taxpayers in a video that resides on its dedicated Obamacare web site. A former IRS Commissioner agrees, and cautions that the new tax requirements will be a “shock to the system,” especially afflicting low-income earners who have never itemized on their tax return. The tax preparation giant — with 24 million tax clients worldwide — reports that the Obamacare tax rules now constitute “the biggest tax code change in the last 20 years.” The company is so concerned, it has launched a high profile national television advertising campaign directed solely at Obamacare enrollees.

New privacy concerns over government's health care website

My Way
Wed, 2015-01-21
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and JACK GILLUM WASHINGTON (AP) — A little-known side to the government's health insurance website is prompting renewed concerns about privacy, just as the White House is calling for stronger cybersecurity protections for consumers. It works like this: When you apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, dozens of data companies may be able to tell that you are on the site. Some can even glean details such as your age, income, ZIP code, whether you smoke or if you are pregnant. The data firms have embedded connections on the government site. Ever-evolving technology allows for individual Internet users to be tracked, building profiles that are a vital tool for advertisers. Connections to multiple third-party tech firms were documented by technology experts who analyzed HealthCare.gov, and confirmed by The Associated Press.

Need help filing out your tax return? Don't call the IRS

Yahoo
Thu, 2015-01-15
WASHINGTON (AP) — Filing a federal tax return is about to get more complicated for millions of families because of President Barack Obama's health law. But they shouldn't expect much help from the Internal Revenue Service. Got a question for the IRS? Good luck reaching someone by phone. The tax agency says only half of the 100 million people expected to call this year will be able to reach a person. Callers who do get through may have to wait on hold for 30 minutes or more to talk to someone who will answer only the simplest questions. "Taxpayers who need help are not getting it, and tax compliance is likely to suffer over the longer term if these problems are not quickly and decisively addressed," said a report Wednesday by agency watchdog Nina E. Olson. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says budget cuts are forcing the agency to reduce taxpayer services and other functions.

Yes, Some Companies Are Cutting Hours In Response To ‘Obamacare’

Five Thirty Eight Economics
Wed, 2015-01-14
By Ben Casselman On Friday, I posted this chart, showing that nearly all the job growth since the recession ended has been in full-time jobs. Part-time employment is pretty much flat. I wasn’t trying to make a political point, but many readers saw one anyway. Specifically, they saw it as a refutation of a frequent Republican talking point: that the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” is killing full-time jobs because it requires employers to offer health insurance to their full-time (but not their part-time) workers. The reality, though, is a bit more complicated. Obamacare hasn’t led to a shift from full-time employment to part-time.

What Safer Cars Tell Us About Obamacare

Forbes
Wed, 2015-01-07
”Safer Cars Lead to Drop in Fatalities” trumpets a recent Wall Street Journal headline. Not to be a curmudgeon, but whether this is good news or bad news depends on what it cost to achieve this reduction in mortality. No one disputes that saving lives is a very good thing, but even the richest nation in the world lacks infinite resources. We will never lack opportunities to save lives. But since there are more and less cost-effective ways of achieving this objective, we are best served by policies that move us in the direction of saving lives at the least cost.

ObamaCare Fuels Historic Part-Time Work Surge

Investors' Business Daily
Tue, 2014-12-16
Over the past year, the ranks of people working part-time jobs by choice — as opposed to business-driven factors — has grown by more than one million, the fastest pace in at least two decades. The timing with ObamaCare's first year of subsidies to buy health insurance is likely more than coincidental. While analysts on the left and right have sparred over whether businesses have shifted to part-time jobs to limit liability under ObamaCare, no one disputes that the law will lead more people to choose to work part-time. Any disagreement is over whether the law should get credit for making less work possible or blame for making work less financially rewarding. The number of people working part-time for noneconomic reasons in November was up 1.15 million, or 6.1%, from a year earlier, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

If the Supreme Court Breaks Obamacare, Will Republicans Fix It?

National Journal
Mon, 2014-12-15
By Sam Baker and Sophie Novack: Republicans want the Supreme Court to blow a major hole in Obamacare next year, but they are still debating whether they would help repair it—and what they should ask for in return. There's a very real chance the high court will invalidate Obamacare's insurance subsidies in most of the country, which would be devastating for the health care law. It would become almost entirely unworkable in most states, and the cost of coverage would skyrocket. That loss for the Affordable Care Act might seem like a clear-cut political win for the GOP, but the reality would be far messier. Such a ruling would weaken the law's individual mandate and make coverage unaffordable for millions of people.

Gruber's Pethetic Congressional Testimony

National Review
Mon, 2014-12-15
By John Fund An old Soviet joke had men carrying briefcases marching alongside tanks and soldiers in a Kremlin parade. “Why are those men in a military parade?” a boy innocently asks his father. He replies, “Those are the economists. They are the most dangerous of all.” MIT economist Jonathan Gruber’s factually impoverished testimony on Obamacare didn’t get nearly the attention it should have, as congressional Democrats cleverly decided to release a report on CIA torture abuses on the same day. Gruber’s stonewalling about videos in which he boasted that the “stupidity” of the American people and their “lack of transparency” had been the key to passing Obamacare was buried deep inside major papers and ignored by the next morning’s network-TV shows. John Harwood of CNBC dismissed his testimony: “I’m sorry, Gruber is a nothingburger and always has been.” Mark Halperin of Bloomberg News chimed in: “This has been a sideshow. . . .

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