A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Taxes"

BREAKING: Judge rules against Obamacare subsidies

Paul Demko, Modern Healthcare
Tue, 2014-09-30
"In a legal setback for the Obama administration, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Tuesday that people in states that rely on the federal insurance exchange are not eligible for Obamacare premium subsidies to help them pay for coverage. Judge Ronald White, a George W. Bush appointee, invalidated an Internal Revenue Service rule interpreting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to allow the premium tax credits in states that have not established their own exchange. “The court holds that the IRS Rule is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law,” White wrote. In his ruling, White rejected the argument that striking down the subsidies would cripple the entire healthcare reform law. “Congress is free to amend the ACA to provide for tax credits in both state and federal exchanges, if that is the legislative will,” he wrote."

Obamacare: New messaging hurdles ahead

Jennifer Haberkorn
Politico
Tue, 2014-09-30
"The second Obamacare enrollment season could go negative — but not because of the health care law’s critics. Obama administration allies are weighing a focus on the loathsome individual mandate and the penalties that millions of Americans could face if they don’t get covered. It would be a calculated approach to prompt sign-ups, a task that the law’s supporters expect to be more difficult, or at least more complex, than in its coverage’s inaugural year. There are several challenges: The 2015 enrollment period is shorter, the most motivated Americans are probably already enrolled and the law is still politically unpopular. That means that even if HealthCare.gov works well — and it couldn’t be worse than last October’s meltdown — proponents are confronting a tough messaging landscape."

Tax refunds will be cut for some who get health credits

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press
Fri, 2014-09-26
"A significant benefit of the Affordable Care Act is the opportunity to receive money-saving tax credits upfront to reduce the overall cost of health insurance. But hundreds of thousands of consumers could owe more money for federal income taxes come April if they received advance payments of the premium tax credit for health insurance. Some married couples could owe $600 or $1,500 or $2,500 or even more."

Why You Can’t Keep Your Plan Under Obamacare, Explained in 3 Minutes

Melissa Quinn, Daily Signal
Thu, 2014-09-25
"In 2009, President Obama repeatedly told the American people, “If you like the plan your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period.” However, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, quickly led to the debunking of the president’s claim. But why exactly did millions of Americans receive cancellation notices from their health insurance companies? Robert Graboyes, senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, dug through the Affordable Care Act’s 1,000 pages and came up with a simple way to explain the specific provisions that prompt insurers to cancel plans."

Anthem Blue Cross' welcome new HMO idea

Los Angeles Times
Thu, 2014-09-25
"The 2010 federal healthcare law experimented with a number of ways to limit healthcare costs, but the real impetus to hold down spending has come from those who pay for coverage — most notably large employers and governments — and from doctors, hospitals and insurers seeking more sustainable business models. A good illustration is the HMO established recently by Anthem Blue Cross and several top Southern California hospitals, which will reward healthcare providers if they cut waste while improving patients' results. It's a welcome development, although the industry will have to go even further to rid itself of the perverse incentives that drive up costs."

Trainwreck, Continued: Eight New Pieces of Bad Obamacare News

Guy Benson
Townhall
Thu, 2014-09-25
" Who's up for the latest batch of bad Obamacare-related news? (1) Consumers brace for the second full year of Obamacare implementation, as the average individual market premium hike clocks in at eight percent -- with some rates spiking by as much as 30 percent. (2) "Wide swings in prices," with some experiencing "double digit increases."(Remember what we were promised): Insurance executives and managers of the online marketplaces are already girding for the coming open enrollment period, saying they fear it could be even more difficult than the last. One challenge facing consumers will be wide swings in prices. Some insurers are seeking double-digit price increases…"

The "7.3 Million"

Bob Laszewski
Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review
Wed, 2014-09-24
"The administration finally released the Obamacare enrollment count this week. Like everything else about their scorekeeping we got a number. Just one number. A number that was conveniently better than we had expected. And, we got no real context for the number or any of the back-up information. I thought this quote in a Politico article was telling: The figure is complex to unravel. The number came from the health insurers, who told the Obama administration every month how many people are covered by Affordable Care Act plans. A CMS official said Thursday that in prior monthly reports, the numbers varied widely, but recently stabilized.""

Conservatives Decry Obamacare’s Hidden Abortion Coverage

Kelsey Harkness
Daily Signal
Wed, 2014-09-24
"Conservatives in Congress are taking President Obama to task for breaking a promise to Americans, if not outright lying, that taxpayers’ money won’t pay for abortions under Obamacare. “Clearly, in this case, the administration lied to the American people,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, said Thursday during Conversations with Conservatives, a group of free market and liberty-minded House members who meet each month with reporters."

Unions Push Employer-Provided Wraparound Coverage For Exchange Plans

Inside Health Policy
Wed, 2014-09-24
"Several unions want the Labor Department to broadly authorize employer-sponsored "wraparound" coverage for workers to supplement their exchange plan benefits and subsidies, according to comments on a rule that is currently being reviewed by the White House. Under a little-noticed proposed rule the Labor Department issued on Dec. 24, the Obama administration proposed to treat as "excepted benefits" certain limited coverage provided by employers that would wrap around an individual market policy. If the wraparound coverage meets a number of requirements, it's considered an excepted benefit and would not disqualify the employee from getting subsidized coverage on the exchanges. While unions generally supported the concept, many complained that the parameters the administration proposed would prevent lower wage employees from having access to the coverage and they are the ones that would benefit most."

How states have gamed Medicaid for hundreds of millions of dollars

Josh Hicks
Washington Post
Mon, 2014-09-22
"States have developed various ways to avoid paying their fair share of Medicaid expenses over the years, in some cases costing the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars in extra funding for the program. The Department of Health and Human Services, which runs Medicaid through its Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has known about the issue for more than a decade, but states still find ways to game the system. The agency’s inspector general this year listed the issue among 25 key problems the agency needs to address."

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