“Health Reform: Wal-Mart says it’s cutting health benefits to part-timers and boosting worker premiums. If a retail empire built on low prices can’t find a way around ObamaCare’s added costs, we are all doomed.
The world’s biggest retailer announced this week that its health costs will be about 48% higher for the current fiscal year than it had expected in February. As a result, it’s cutting 30,000 part-timers from its health benefit plan, raising worker-paid premiums by 19% and trimming its co-payment for health costs above the deductible.
“We had to make some tough decisions,” benefits director Sally Wellborn told the Associated Press. But to hear President Obama tell it, Wal-Mart just didn’t shop around.
That, at least, was what he said when the general manager of the Indiana-based Millennium Steel asked Obama last week about the company’s double-digit premium hikes.
Obama’s response: “The question is whether you guys are shopping effectively enough.””
“There are obvious benefits to getting health insurance at work. For one, employer-sponsored insurance is not taxed, meaning that every dollar of compensation provided as medical coverage stretches further. Individual market plans, meanwhile, are purchased with post-tax dollars. The only way to get in on the tax exemption is to buy coverage at work.
But for low-wage workers, Obamacare has introduced a new and big drawback to the employer insurance. Namely, anybody who gets access to affordable coverage at work is barred from getting subsidies through the new exchanges. This is even true for people who don’t buy insurance at work; just the act of getting offered employer coverage blocks individuals from using getting financial help.”
“I’m sure glad that all the exposure of the activities of the IRS and Lois Lerner have put an end to using the IRS as a tool to attack administration critics. The crisis clearly is over, citizens.
The producer of a new movie that criticizes Obamacare has reportedly become the latest prominent conservative slapped with an IRS audit.”
“CHICAGO — There is a “better than 50/50” chance the ACA’s device tax will be repealed if Republicans win the Senate in November, Evan Bayh, former Democratic Indiana senator and governor, said Tuesday (Oct. 7) at the Advanced Medical Technology Association’s medtech conference. A Republican-controlled Congress likely would first vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and after that measure is vetoed would settle on other changes to the law, such as a repeal of the industry-opposed excise tax, said Bayh, now a partner at McGuireWoods.”
“At the heart of Halbig v. Burwell and the series of cases that are following it through the federal court system is an attempt to understand what state and federal legislators were thinking last year, two years ago, even four years ago when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed. While many experts and lawyers in this case have hypothesized about Congress’ intent, contrary to the claims of the Government, at least one establishing and one non-establishing state understood the language of the statute to condition subsidies on state establishment of Exchanges when they made their determination on whether to establish an Exchange. Furthermore, this understanding was timely in the chronology of ACA implementation.”
“As soon as Air Force One touched down in Indiana on Friday, Gov. Mike Pence met President Barack Obama on the tarmac with a plea: Expand the state’s access to government-sponsored health insurance.
The catch: Pence wants to do it with a conservative twist.
At least, that’s how he’s selling his proposal. And his political future could hinge on whether the first-term Republican can convince conservatives that he’s not just rebranding Obamacare.
Pence has spent much of his first two years in office trying to strike a bargain on one of the health care law’s core components. Indiana will expand Medicaid coverage, Pence says, but only if it’s allowed to do it through a tweaked version called the “Healthy Indiana Plan,” which also requires users to make small payments into health savings accounts.”
“The Supreme Court on Monday returns to work to face a rich and varied docket, including cases on First Amendment rights in the digital age, religious freedom behind bars and the status of Jerusalem.
Those cases are colorful and consequential, but there are much bigger ones on the horizon.
“I’m more excited about the next 12 months at the Supreme Court than about any Supreme Court term in its modern history,” said Thomas C. Goldstein, who argues frequently before the court and is the publisher of Scotusblog.
In the coming weeks, the justices will most likely agree to decide whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, a question they ducked in 2013. They will also soon consider whether to hear a fresh and potent challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which barely survived its last encounter with the court in 2012.”
“When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, it required health insurers, hospitals, device makers and pharmaceutical companies to share in the cost because they would get a windfall of new, paying customers.
But with an $8 billion tax on insurers due Sept. 30 — the first time the new tax is being collected — the industry is getting help from an unlikely source: taxpayers.
States and the federal government will spend at least $700 million this year to pay the tax for their Medicaid health plans. The three dozen states that use Medicaid managed care plans will give those insurers more money to cover the new expense. Many of those states – such as Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee – did not expand Medicaid as the law allows, and in the process turned down billions in new federal dollars.”
“The top executive for H&R Block, the nation’s largest tax preparer, on Wednesday said he expected President Obama’s health care law to add “significant complexity” to next year’s tax season.
Speaking on H&R Block’s quarterly earnings conference call, CEO William Cobb said that the company was already taking steps to train its tax preparers based on the draft forms that the Internal Revenue Service has released to comply with Obamacare.
“As expected, the forms are very detailed and can present significant complexity, depending on a filer’s coverage status during the year, income level, and household composition,” Cobb said. “Depending on their situation, there are instances where filers may need to file multiple new tax forms and complete additional worksheets.””
“The ObamaCare exchanges that opened for business last fall to disastrous consequence are expected to be largely improved with better technology and more insurance plans when they re-open next month, but critics are still raising concerns about consumer costs and choices.
The Department of Health and Human Services said in a preliminary report released Sept. 23 that the number of insurers has increased by 25 percent, which officials argue should lower premium costs through competition, in addition to offering customers more choices.”