The Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday night that it was in the process of shorting the U.S. Treasury $3.5 billion.
Well, they didn’t exactly announce it. You had to read between the lines.
The theft of $3.5 billion will help prop up insurers that have agreed to sell ObamaCare policies in the individual market. Behind all the happy talk from Administration officials about the program’s success lies an unpleasant truth: insurers that participate in ObamaCare exchanges are bleeding money.
Those losses are coming despite billions of dollars in handouts the government is providing the industry. Some of those handouts are entirely lawful; others, not so much.
The so-called “reinsurance” program falls into the latter category.
Some people may not receive the necessary ObamaCare forms, 1095-B or 1095-C, until shortly before the April 15 tax filing deadline because the IRS has pushed back the due date from Jan. 31 to March 31 for employers and others that provide insurance.
What’s a consumer to do? File anyway, even without the form, the IRS says. If people make a mistake on their return because they didn’t have the 1095-B or 1095-C forms and relied on information from their employer or other coverage providers instead, they won’t have to amend their return, the IRS said.
Health insurers that sold plans on the exchanges in 2015 and enrolled droves of high-cost members, could haul away as much as $7.7 billion this year, as part of the healthcare law’s reinsurance program.
The CMS released a memo (PDF) late Friday that said the agency expects its jar of reinsurance money will total $7.7 billion. The payouts, to be issued this year, will reflect data from the 2015 benefit year.
The government granted up to $750 million in ObamaCare tax credits to 500,000 persons who weren’t eligible, many of whom may have been illegal immigrants, a Senate report says.
Half a million individuals mistakenly received the tax credits because of a lapse in verification of their legal status and a lack of coordination among government agencies, the report determined.
Although they failed to verify citizenship or their legal status, they got the “advanced premium” tax credits under the Affordable Care Act. The taxpayer dollars are awarded on the basis of income to help lower premium costs on ObamaCare’s marketplace insurance exchanges.
Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders recently released his health-care plan: a government-run single-payer system for the U.S., similar to what many European countries have. Criticism of the plan has so far focused on its lack of political feasibility, but there is an even more important reason to be wary: Accounting for costs and tax increases, it would reduce labor supply by 11.6 million. In a struggling economy, with tepid wage growth, hurting employment should be the last thing on any politician’s agenda.
The plan truly promises everything under the sun. Not only will everyone be able to get any medical treatment needed — with no cost at the point of service — but the plan won’t require a terribly high tax increase.
President Obama’s Final Budget Proposal includes:
The budget will include three years of federal funding to 19 state governments that passed up an earlier offer to expand Medicaid coverage for more than 4 million low-income people.
TWEAK TO “CADILLAC TAX”
Obama will ask for tweaks to a tax on certain health insurance plans that is unpopular with labor unions.
President Barack Obama is having a tough time winning friends for his Cadillac tax.
His plan to dial back the unpopular ObamaCare tax on high-cost health plans, to be detailed in the fiscal 2017 budget he’ll release Feb. 9, has won him no applause from employers, labor unions or health insurers. The tax still must be repealed, they say, not merely modified.
“The ‘Cadillac tax’ cannot be fixed,” James Klein, president of the American Benefits Council, a nonprofit representing employers, said in a statement. “We’re glad the administration recognizes the ‘Cadillac tax’ is seriously flawed. But its impact in high cost areas is just one of its many problems.”
he Cadillac tax was apt to be politically unpopular. It was particularly apt to be unpopular with politically active groups, such as unions. It therefore seemed somewhat unlikely to us that the Cadillac tax would ever be actually allowed to take effect. Don’t be alarmist, we were told; the administration knows that all the parts of this law hang together. It will not start disassembling the complicated structure it spent so much time and political capital putting together.
And to be sure, the administration has not capitulated in the face of considerable political pressure. Well, it has not capitulated much. The White House did agree to push the implementation date back to 2020 from 2018. That ObamaCare’s principle architects want to be safely away from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue before the Cadillac tax is implemented gives you a pretty good idea of how politically viable it is.
President Barack Obama will propose reducing the bite of the unpopular “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health insurance plans in the budget he releases next week, in a bid to preserve a key element of the Affordable Care Act.
Jason Furman, the White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman, wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that the president’s plan would reflect regional differences in the cost of health care, reducing the tax’s bite where care is particularly expensive.
“This policy prevents the tax from creating unintended burdens for firms located in areas where health care is particularly expensive, while ensuring that the policy remains targeted at overly generous plans over the long term,” Furman wrote in the Journal article.
There is little congressional appetite to revisit ObamaCare’s Cadillac tax in an election year, but that’s not stopping the coalition opposing it from campaigning about it.
Fight the 40, the coalition that includes unions and Fortune 500 companies as members, is still pushing for a full repeal of the 40 percent excise tax on employer-sponsored health benefits above a certain threshold. The tax was originally scheduled to go into effect in 2018 but was pushed back two more years in December.
“We will continue our work to highlight how the tax creates age, gender, and geographic disparities and how it impacts vulnerable demographics,” the group said in a memo shared first with Morning Consult.