Ohio will soon ask the federal government to waive an Obamacare requirement that nearly everyone in the state get health insurance coverage.

It will also ask permission to make some Medicaid recipients work 20 hours a week, go to school or take on similar activities. The state announced both these actions today, anticipating it will submit separate applications to Washington in about a month, after holding public hearings.
. . .

House Republicans are in discussions about repealing or delaying ObamaCare’s employer mandate to offer health insurance, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said Tuesday.

Brady told reporters that he has discussed the idea with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, as well as other members of the Ways and Means Committee.

“We’ve discussed that with him as well as committee members, so yeah, there is that discussion, and I’d like to see us make progress there,” Brady said.

. . .

Businesses are pushing back on the Internal Revenue Service’s decision to begin enforcing the Affordable Care Act’s employer insurance mandate, challenging penalties that run into the millions and asserting the agency is wrong to impose the fines.

The ACA imposes a penalty on employers with more than 50 workers who don’t provide qualifying coverage to employees, but the fines weren’t initially enforced. In November, the IRS said it would begin assessing penalties, starting with companies that failed to comply in 2015, when parts of the employer mandate first kicked in.

. . .

The House passed legislation Tuesday to ease the ObamaCare rule that requires restaurants, convenience stores and supermarkets to list the calorie count of each menu item before it’s set to take effect in May.

The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), passed, 266-157, with the support of 32 Democrats.

. . .

The Trump administration is exploring ways to allow more Americans toqualify for exemptions from the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which goes away in 2019 but is still in effect this year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is reportedly working on guidance that would expand “hardship” exemptions from the mandate that would apply this year, meaning they could be cited by filers preparing their 2018 taxes next year.

. . .

 

Congress is apparently not done cutting taxes, even after passing a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul last year.

The deal struck by Democrats and Republicans on Monday to end a brief government shutdown contains $31 billion in tax cuts, including a temporary delay in implementing three health-care-related taxes.

Those delays, which enjoy varying degrees of bipartisan support, are not offset by any spending cuts or tax increases, and thus will add to a federal budget deficit that is already projected to increase rapidly as last year’s mammoth new tax law takes effect.

. . .

Congressional Republicans are hoping to pass a temporary funding bill that would keep the government open until mid-February, thus allowing negotiations to continue on immigration and other matters. To attract more support for the stop-gap bill, Republican leaders have proposed combining it with other unrelated and more popular provisions, including a two-year delay of the so-called “Cadillac tax.” Delaying the “Cadillac tax” again — it was already pushed back once — is a bad idea. It would set back the cause of market-driven health care rather than advance it.

. . .

The House on Thursday night approved a stopgap measure to keep the government open less than 36 hours before a possible shutdown, shifting the drama to a Senate where Democrats are threatening to block the GOP bill.

The House measure includes a six-year extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expired at the end of September. States are at risk of running out of money to cover health care for children in low-income families.

. . .

Because this exemption applies to employer-sponsored insurance but not individual coverage or out-of-pocket spending, it encourages group plans over consumer control. It should not be seen as sacred. However, the cap imposed by the Cadillac tax will become increasingly tight over time, which risks pushing Americans into public entitlements rather than empowering them as consumers. Policymakers should keep the Cadillac tax from biting too deeply — but a better way to end the tax bias toward employer-based plans would be to extend the tax exemption to health care that individuals purchase by themselves.
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The Trump Administration is on a mission to rescue health-care markets and consumers from ObamaCare’s shrinking choices and higher prices. Witness the Labor Department’s proposal to allow small businesses to band together to provide insurance on equal footing with corporations and unions.

The share of workers at small businesses with employer-sponsored health benefits has dropped by a quarter since 2010 as insurance costs have ballooned in part due to government mandates. About 11 million workers employed by small businesses are uninsured. Some businesses have dropped their workers onto state insurance exchanges where premiums are subsidized by taxpayers.

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