Small businesses are the engines of the American economy, but it’s getting to the point where it is almost impossible for them to get ahead.

Soaring health costs are negatively impacting their ability to compete and still offer affordable health coverage for their employees. Since 2004, the average annual family premium in small firms increased 69 percent. Family insurance premiums for small firms increased from $9,950 in 2003 to $16,834 in 2014, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The problem is the economy rose at just a fraction of premium increases, creating an affordability gap many find too difficult to surmount.

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The IRS began using an ObamaCare database before it had worked out all the security kinks, according to a new report from a federal watchdog.

The Treasury inspector general for tax administration found that the IRS had not completed all the necessary testing for the Coverage Data Repository (CDR) before the 2015 tax filing season started.

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According to a Sept. 3 report by Anna Wilde Mathews of the Wall Street Journal, Pittsburgh-based Highmark Health announced it will cut back its range of plans offered through the ObamaCare marketplaces.

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The Supreme Court recently approved the provision of subsidies to people who enroll on the federal healthcare exchange known as HealthCare.gov. But last Thursday, in testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that the biggest threat to implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains government ineptitude.

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Obama-era boondoggles operate on a far grander scale. Consider the massive 2009 “Stimulus” package and all those “shovel-ready” jobs that never materialized. Or the $536-million loan guarantee for Solyndra, shortly before the solar power company went belly up.

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The Internal Revenue Service paid out over $572 million in excess Obamacare tax credits and sent incorrect forms to over half a million individuals due to a computer programming error, according a new government report.

The report released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration on Tuesday inspected the interim results of the IRS’s verification of Obamacare’s Premium Tax Credits, which were created to assist low or medium-income individuals and families to purchase health insurance in the marketplace.

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The price of the most popular health plans sold through Maryland’s insurance exchange will jump, on average, by about one quarter next year, fueling questions about whether coverage under the Affordable Care Act will remain affordable in the state and elsewhere.

The 26 percent average increase in monthly premiums are for CareFirst plans, which cover three-fourths of the state residents who have bought insurance under the federal health-care law. The price jump, scheduled for January, is among rate changes that the state’s insurance regulators have approved for plans sold to individual families and small businesses.

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Physician-owned hospitals are often vilified in America’s health care system, accused of siphoning the most profitable operations away from other hospitals while leaving them with the sicker and poorer patients. Congress has banned new ones from opening.

But an independent study released Wednesday argues physician-owned hospitals have gotten a bad rap.

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The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) is replete with bad policies. The so-called Cadillac tax is not one of them.

The tax, which would impose a 40% charge on the value of any employer-provided health insurance above $27,500 for a family, is set to be imposed in 2018. Politicians on both the left and the right have set their sights on repealing the provision. Several Republicans recently announced they would be introducing a bill to repeal it shortly after Congress is back in session, and they hope to bring it to a vote by year’s end.

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Insurers have asked for double-digit rate increases for nearly 1 out of every 3 Obamacare plans that will be sold on HealthCare.gov for 2016 coverage, according to a new analysis.

And in three states—Delaware, South Dakota and West Virginia—every plan sold on HealthCare.gov is asking for 10 percent or more hikes in the prices of their premiums for next year, AgileHealthInsurance.com said in its report.

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