A project of the Galen Institute
The Washington Times
04/28/15
Most filers who received government subsidies to buy Obamacare plans had to pay money back to the IRS this year, according to an H&R Block analysis released Monday that looks at the health law’s first full tax season. The tax-prep giant studied its own massive customer base and concluded that two-thirds of its filers who got subsidies from Obamacare were overpaid during the course of the year, and owed money back to the IRS on the April 15 deadline.
The Washington Examiner
04/27/15
Some consumers are willing to pay the penalty for not having health insurance because it is cheaper than getting coverage, according to a new analysis. The analysis from research firm Avalere Health details one reason why the administration has done so poorly in a special enrollment period for Obamacare. So far only 68,000 people have signed up for the period that ends April 30. This is the period set aside for people who are getting hit by the law's new tax on Americans who do not have health insurance packages. Affected taxpayers must still pay the 2014 penalty but could avoid the higher 2015 penalty by getting coverage by the deadline. But it turns out many uninsured workers would rather pay the tax, because it will cost less than buying insurance.
Avalere
04/27/15
A new analysis from Avalere finds that the penalties associated with the individual mandate, which grow in 2015, might be too low to attract enrollment, particularly among middle-income, healthy individuals. Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that 68,000 people enrolled in exchange coverage through HealthCare.gov as part of a special enrollment period for individuals paying the individual mandate penalty on their 2014 tax filings. That lackluster uptake of the special enrollment period is driven, in part, because for most people individual mandate penalties are much lower than actual costs of coverage.
Inside Health Policy
04/24/15
The IRS shifted around substantial resources and manpower to implement the Affordable Care Act while its overall operations and taxpayer assistance suffered, according to a Republican staff report released by the House Ways and Means committee. The findings, released Wednesday (April 22), follow a stressful tax season for the Treasury Department, as it handled nearly 1 million people who received incorrect 1095-A forms that used the wrong data to calculate health insurance exchange enrollees’ subsidies due to a technological code glitch. Taxpayers were told they owed or were owed the wrong amount for their tax return; the IRS said those affected did not have to refile if they had already done so. “To date, the IRS has spent over $1.2 billion on implementation of the ACA,” the report says. “In fiscal year 2014, the IRS spent $386.6 million on the ACA, including $12.1 million from the taxpayer-services account and $185.7 million from its user-fee account.”
Komo News
04/23/15
WASHINGTON (AP) - The IRS' overloaded phone system hung up on more than 8 million taxpayers this filing season as the agency cut millions of dollars from taxpayer services to help pay to enforce President Barack Obama's health law. For those who weren't disconnected, only 40 percent actually got through to a person. And many of those people had to wait on hold for more than 30 minutes, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Wednesday. The number of disconnected callers spiked just as taxpayers were being hit with new requirements under the health law. Last year, the phone system dropped 360,000 calls, Koskinen said. For the first time, taxpayers had to report whether they had health insurance last year on their tax returns. Those who received government subsidies had to respond whether they received the correct amount. People without insurance faced fines, collected by the IRS, if they did not qualify for an exemption.
Bloomberg View
04/23/15
Is it better to follow the strict letter of the law or to adjust it where appropriate to produce a more equitable result? This is one of the oldest questions in legal thought, one that can be traced back at least to Aristotle -- and on Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in, 5-4, on the side of equity, with Justice Anthony Kennedy providing the deciding vote. Ordinarily, a decision like this one, involving the interpretation of the Federal Tort Claims Act would be of interest only to practitioners who are specialists in statutory interpretation. But this isn’t an ordinary spring. In June, the Supreme Court will hand down its most important statutory interpretation case in a generation, essentially deciding whether the Affordable Care Act will survive or fall. The interpretation question before the court in that high profile case, King v. Burwell, bears a striking structural resemblance to the obscure one the court decided Wednesday.
Health Affairs Blog
04/23/15
At some point between now and the beginning of July, 2015, the Supreme Court will decide King v. Burwell. If the Court sides with the plaintiffs and invalidates the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rule permitting federally facilitated exchanges to grant premium tax credits, the effects will be dramatic. Premium tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments in the federally facilitated exchanges would probably cease at the end of July. At that point, approximately 8 million Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) enrollees currently receiving subsidies would have to decide whether to continue to pay the premiums themselves. Without the subsidies, their premiums would increase 122 to 774 percent depending on the state, with a national average increase of 255 percent. Millions of individuals would likely be unable to afford these premium increases and would cease paying their premiums. Their coverage would probably end 30 days thereafter.
The Hill
04/22/15
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) unveiled legislation on Tuesday that would allow people to temporarily keep their ObamaCare plans if the Supreme Court guts the law's subsidies. Johnson’s bill is the latest Republican effort to put forward contingency plans for the possibility that the high court could strike down subsidies that help 7.5 million people afford health insurance. Many Republicans, including Johnson, who is up for reelection next year, worry that without a plan, they will face intense political pressure to simply restore coverage under ObamaCare to the millions of people who would lose insurance in the case King v. Burwell. A ruling is expected in June.
Reuters
04/20/15
(Reuters) - If the U.S. Supreme Court blows up the tax subsidies at the heart of Obamacare in June, Republicans hope to deliver on their promise to offer an alternative healthcare plan. But key parts of it may resemble the one President Barack Obama delivered five years ago in the Affordable Care Act, partly reflecting Republican concerns that they could pay a political price if insurance subsidies are yanked from millions of Americans later this year. Two front-running Republican options at an early stage in Congress include a refundable tax credit that experts say is virtually the same thing as the Obamacare tax subsidy being challenged before the Supreme Court. Republicans deny that their ideas are tantamount to "Obamacare Lite" but acknowledge they will need bipartisan support for their plans to stand any chance of avoiding an Obama veto.
Competitive Enterprise Institute
04/16/15
WASHINGTON, April 16 – Today the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released a report by finance expert Scot Vorse that shows many states knew as early as 2011 that they might not receive tax credits if they opted out of establishing a state-based health insurance exchange. Whether nonparticipating states had adequate knowledge that they were putting their Obamacare subsidies at risk is a critical question in CEI’s Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell. Vorse obtained emails related to a January 2012 letter sent by seven states to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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