The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is charged with administering many key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). One might expect the IRS to follow the law when doing so. In drafting regulations to implement the PPACA’s tax credit provisions, however, the IRS seems to have a habit of ignoring the statutory text where the IRS does not like the result.

University of Iowa law professor Andy Grewal has found multiple instances of the IRS expanding tax credit eligibility beyond that provided for by the text of the PPACA and, in the process, increasing potential employer exposure to penalties under the Act. I discussed two of professor Grewal’s finds in a prior post. (See also this forthcoming article.)

In a new post on the Yale Journal on Regulation blog, “Notice & Comment,” professor Grewal identifies another IRS departure from the statutory text.

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It’s time now for your monthly reminder that Obamacare neither “working in the real world,” “proving its critics wrong,” nor “blowing away expectations:”

Colorado (higher taxes): “The Connect for Health Colorado board of directors voted unanimously Thursday to raise the fees it charges on health insurance policies to bolster its finances as federal grants run out later this year. The state health insurance exchange raised the fee on 2016 plans purchased through its marketplace from the current 1.4 percent of premiums to 3.5 percent, the same rate charged on the federal exchange…Although insurance carriers pay the fees to the exchange, they acknowledge fees are passed on to consumers in one form or another…The fee increases are projected to help bring revenues to about $40 million in fiscal year 2015-16. It would cover operational expenses, but not capital costs, such as improving the computer system…”

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The Obama administration has spent billions of taxpayer dollars implementing the Affordable Care Act, often taking vast liberties with statutory language. The administration’s actions were the subject of a House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, chaired by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL).

Roskam is calling for a Special Inspector General to investigate the administration’s actions and track how tens of billions of dollars have been spent. Implementation of the sweeping and complex law stretches across eight separate federal agencies so no one agency IG can see the patterns and possible abuses taking place.

Rep. Roskam’s SIGMA Act (Special Inspector General for Monitoring the Affordable Care Act) would create an ObamaCare watchdog to conduct much-needed audits of the ACA to guard against further waste of tax dollars, such as the extraordinarily expensive and problem-prone exchange websites.

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I might be accused of picking at low-hanging fruit, but I’d nonetheless like to devote another blog post to more IRS regulations that expand and contradict Section 36B. My prior blog posts, which I’ve adapted into an essay upcoming in Bloomberg BNA, discuss regulations that improperly extend ACA premium tax credits to persons in the Medicare coverage gap and to some unlawful aliens. In this post, I want to highlight regulations that improperly penalize employers and that give credits to taxpayers already enrolled in employer-sponsored minimum essential coverage.

Broadly speaking, Section 36B offers premium tax credits, on a month-by-month basis, to taxpayers who purchase Exchange policies only when they can’t otherwise obtain minimum essential coverage. However, the mere offering of minimum essential coverage by an employer to a taxpayer will not disqualify her from tax credits. Instead, the employer coverage must be affordable and provide minimum value.

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Federal programs rarely come in under budget. Consider Medicare, which will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary. In 1967, lawmakers projected annual spending in the program would reach $12 billion in 1990. The actual tab that year? A cool $110 billion.

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office says that Obamacare will buck the trend. The CBO has lowered its projections for the cost of the president’s healthcare law by $142 billion over the coming decade, from $1.35 trillion to $1.2 trillion. Obamacare may cost the feds less than anticipated, but it’s extracting far more from consumers’ wallets than they bargained for. Consequently, Obamacare has put insurance out of reach for many Americans – breaking its promise to make health care more affordable.

The decline in Obamacare’s cost is not as impressive as it seems. The total price tag is still some $250 billion higher than the president promised when he signed Obamacare in March 2010.

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This year was supposed to be the first wherein Obamacare’s state-based insurance exchanges would be self-sufficient. By now, the law’s architects assured, the exchanges would be thriving, competitive marketplaces, where all Americans could secure affordable coverage.

It hasn’t worked out that way.

Two of the original 17 state exchanges have failed. Half of those that remain are struggling financially.

After getting $5 billion in federal grants, most of the state exchanges have turned out to be a disastrous mix of runaway spending on technology, lower-than-expected enrollment, huge overhead costs, and looming bankruptcy.

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Gallup Poll– PRINCETON, N.J. — Americans’ views about the Affordable Care Act are more positive now than they were last fall, although overall attitudes remain more negative than positive. Half of Americans now disapprove of the 2010 law, while 44% approve — the narrowest gap since October 2013. By comparison, last November, just after the strong Republican showing in the midterm elections, 56% of Americans disapproved and 37% approved.

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Following close to two years of reports of cost overruns on HealthCare.gov, increased premium prices and lost work hours since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., is introducing legislation to appoint a watchdog to oversee the health care law and ensure the protection of taxpayer dollars.

The legislation calls for the creation of a special inspector general for monitoring the Affordable Care Act, or SIGMA.

“The false, rosy claims of Obamacare have largely been debunked, and there’s a level of dissatisfaction all around,” Roskam said in an interview with The Daily Signal. “More time and more attention is in the oversight function.

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One primary goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to expand access to affordable health care. However, in the five years since the ACA’s passage, we have found that while more people have health insurance, they do not necessarily have access to affordable health care.

In order to pay for the subsidies that have facilitated the expansion of health insurance coverage, many recipients of federal funds were forced to accept payment reductions. Hospitals were faced with cuts of $260 billion over ten years.[1] These reductions came in the form of delayed payment updates for Medicare hospital services and reduced Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments meant to compensate hospitals for treating a high percentage of patients for whom the hospital is often inadequately reimbursed.

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ObamaCare supporters have produced study after study warning of the devastation to come if the Supreme Court decides the IRS did in fact illegally extend health insurance subsidies to people in states operating under federal exchanges.

But the American Action Forum (AAF), a dynamic think tank led by former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, has produced new research that provides balance to what has been a one-sided debate. He shows how people in 37 states will be helped if the petitioners prevail in King v Burwell.

AAF estimates that more than 11 million people would be liberated from having to purchase expensive ObamaCare insurance and freed from the onerous penalties of the individual mandate, which cost those who don’t comply an average of $1,200 in fines this year. The study also finds that workers could earn nearly $1,000 more, and 1.2 million more people would join the workforce in federal exchange states if King prevails in the lawsuit.

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