A few weeks back, I noted that a judge had ruled against the Obama administration in a dispute over health-insurance subsidies. Some background: Obamacare makes insurers reduce out of pocket costs, like deductibles, to low-income people who purchase qualifying plans; the government is supposed to reimburse the companies directly. However, Congress didn’t appropriate any money to pay for these subsidies. When the administration went ahead and paid the insurers anyway — distributing about $7 billion without congressional approval — House lawmakers sued.
Now it appears that House Republicans, and Judge Rosemary Collyer, aren’t the only folks who thought the administration’s actions were questionable. A report in the New York Times this weekend says that IRS officials raised concerns that the administration had no legal authority to spend the money.
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California is moving to become the first state to allow unauthorized immigrants to purchase insurance through the state exchange. The state Assembly voted Tuesday to open up Covered California to immigrants living in the U.S. illegally who want to purchase a health plan with their own funds.
SB 10, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara from southeast Los Angeles County, would authorize the state to apply for a federal waiver to make the change. The state Senate voted to pass the measure last June and an April staff report from Covered California also expressed support for the move.
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Republican lawmakers crafting alternatives to Obamacare face a fundamental decision: whether to focus on expanding coverage or containing costs. Their choice may be driven, at least in part, by budget scorekeepers.
The Congressional Budget Office released a report in December 2008 on key issues in analyzing major health-care proposals. Included was a chart projecting individuals’ willingness to enroll in health insurance at various levels of subsidy (in technical terms, an elasticity curve). That curve suggested that insurance enrollment would remain below 40% until subsidies reached 70% of cost and that even if costs were 100% subsidized, about a fifth of individuals would decline to enroll. (And that level of subsidy is probably much greater than many Republicans would be willing to offer.)
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Will ObamaCare be a top issue in this fall’s presidential and congressional campaigns? Republicans better make it one if they want to prevail.
The continuing unpopularity of President Obama’s signature domestic achievement gives Republicans an enormous opportunity. Only 39.2% of Americans favor ObamaCare in the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls; nearly half, 48.8%, oppose it. There’s also a sharp partisan divide that benefits the GOP: While 78% of Democrats approve of ObamaCare, according to an April survey from the Pew Research Center, 58% of independents and 89% of Republicans disapprove of it.
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UnitedHealthcare will stop offering Affordable Care Act plans in Illinois in 2017, the Tribune confirmed Tuesday.
The departure of the insurance company will reduce the number of coverage options for consumers in 27 counties.
UnitedHealthcare announced in April that it would pull out of nearly all of the ACA exchanges because of heavier-than-expected losses from covering a population that turned out to be sicker than it expected. The ACA plans, which the company offered in 34 states this year, are a small share of UnitedHealthcare’s total business.
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House Republicans and the Obama administration are clashing over subpoenas for ObamaCare documents. Republicans are upping the pressure on the administration, saying officials are withholding documents that Congress has every right to see.
At issue are two separate portions of ObamaCare. One is the Basic Health Program, which states can choose to implement and is aimed at providing choices for low-income people with slightly too much income to qualify for Medicaid. The other is the law’s “cost-sharing reductions” which are payments that help lower out-of pocket-costs for low-income ObamaCare enrollees.
“Your refusal to provide the requested documents and information raises serious concerns about the Department’s willingness to be accountable for the lawful execution of laws passed by Congress,” Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell on Tuesday.
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