With Congress set to return to Washington in just under two weeks, Republicans are incredibly divided on how to deal with ObamaCare in the upcoming Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded for another year.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) have been urging members of both chambers to sign onto their push to defund ObamaCare. Basically, this means that Congress would withhold statutory funding for the 2010 healthcare law while funding the rest of the government. But the idea has faced a substantial amount of opposition from Republican politicians and pundits who feel that this maneuver would led to a government shutdown, a prospect that they believe will be blamed the GOP.
Some 80 Republicans have signed on to a letter urging House leadership to back the effort, though only 14 Republican senators have signed the letter in the upper chamber. Cruz acknowledged over the weekend that the effort to defund ObamaCare doesn’t have enough votes to succeed and noted that it would take a “grassroots tsunami” to push it through Congress.
The merits of defunding ObamaCare are well understood. This is a destructive law that is greatly influencing the rise in health insurance premiums and hurting job growth as employers resort to hiring mostly part-time workers to skirt the laws’ costly mandates.
The Obama Administration and groups supporting the 2010 healthcare law have a huge task in front of them if they want young people to sign up for health insurance coverage when the state exchanges launch on October 1st.
The Commonwealth Fund, a DC-based firm that backs ObamaCare, found in a recent survey that only 27% of 18 to 29 year-olds are aware of the state insurance changes.
“From October 2013 through March 2014, young adults without affordable health insurance through an employer will be able to select a plan from their state’s insurance marketplace, with coverage beginning January 2014,” the Commonwealth Fund noted in its brief on ObamaCare and young Americans. “Those with incomes under 400 percent of poverty will be eligible for subsidized coverage or Medicaid.”
“Only 27 percent of 19-to-29-year-olds in the survey were aware of the marketplaces, with awareness lowest among those uninsured for some time during the year (19%) and those in low-income households eligible for subsidized coverage or Medicaid (18%),” the report added. “Awareness also varied by education levels: one-third of college graduates were aware of the marketplaces, compared with 20 percent of those with a high school degree or less.”
The Commonwealth Fund disputes assertions that young people don’t purchase health insurance coverage, noting instead that they cannot afford it. And while the organization says that subsidies will help with affordability, they don’t mention that many young people will likely pay the individual mandate tax rather than an expensive health insurance plan on a state exchange.
Despite ongoing efforts by the Obama Administration and its supporters to sell ObamaCare to a skeptical American public, a new study from the National Center for Public Policy Research finds that young people will see no financial benefit from the law’s insurance exchanges.
The centerpiece of the ObamaCare is the state insurance exchanges, through which uninsured Americans can purchase coverage from any one of four different plans, the cheapest of which is the Bronze plan.
But even with subsidies provided by the law, many Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 will be $500 richer if they don’t buy health insurance, according to the study, Why the ‘Young Invincibles’ Won’t Participate in the ObamaCare Exchanges and Why It Matters.
“Over 3.7 million individuals will pay at least $595 out-of-pocket for a Bronze plan, meaning that they will save at least $500 if they decline insurance and pay the fine,” noted Dr. David Hogberg, the author of the study. “About 3 million individuals will save at least $1,000 if they go the same route.”
“Also noteworthy is that a large portion of the total number of single people without children ages 18-34 have a substantial financial incentive not to participate next year,” he added. “Sixty-one percent will have at least $500 worth of incentive to avoid the exchange, and 49 percent will have at least $1,000 worth.”
But here’s how it is in real world terms.
“At $23,831 annual income, that 25-year-old will save $1,000 by just paying the one percent fine,” wrote Hogberg. “That’s a savings of about $83 a month that can purchase a month’s worth of groceries for a single person at a grocery store such as Aldi.”
The Obama Administration has delayed yet another key part of ObamaCare. The New York Times reports this morning that the limit on out-of-pocket healthcare costs for consumers has been pushed back for a year to allow insurers more time to get their computer systems ready to comply with the policy.
“The limit on out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles and co-payments, was not supposed to exceed $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family,” notes The New York Times. “But under a little-noticed ruling, federal officials have granted a one-year grace period to some insurers, allowing them to set higher limits, or no limit at all on some costs, in 2014.”
The Times explains that the delay has been policy since February, but it was “obscured in a maze of legal and bureaucratic language that went largely unnoticed” on the Labor Department’s website.
“Under the policy, many group health plans will be able to maintain separate out-of-pocket limits for benefits in 2014. As a result, a consumer may be required to pay $6,350 for doctors’ services and hospital care, and an additional $6,350 for prescription drugs under a plan administered by a pharmacy benefit manager,” reports The Times. “Some consumers may have to pay even more, as some group health plans will not be required to impose any limit on a patient’s out-of-pocket costs for drugs next year. If a drug plan does not currently have a limit on out-of-pocket costs, it will not have to impose one for 2014, federal officials said Monday.”
Congress may have received an ObamaCare exemption to keep their out of pocket health insurance costs from going up, but hardworking families with coverage through small businesses may not be so lucky.
The Associated Press reports that small business owners facing hefty premium increases because of ObamaCare may end paid group family health insurance coverage for employees, leaving workers with less take home pay:
Insurance companies have already warned small business customers that premiums could rise 20 percent or more in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. That’s making some owners consider not paying for coverage for workers’ families, even though insurance is a benefit that helps companies attract and retain top talent. If more small business owners decide to stop paying for family coverage, it will accelerate a trend that started as the cost of health insurance soared in recent years.
Under the law, companies with 50 or more employees are required to provide affordable coverage for their workers. They also must offer health insurance to employees’ dependents, but don’t have to pay for it. And they aren’t required to offer insurance at all to employees’ spouses.
The House of Representatives voted on Friday to remove the Internal Revenue Service’s authority to enforce ObamaCare, a response to the agency’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups.
The Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act passed the House in a 232-185 vote. Four Democrats — Reps. John Barrow (D-GA), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), and Collin Peterson (D-MN); all of whom are potentially vulnerable next year — voted with Republicans to pass the measure.
Under ObamaCare, the IRS was given 46 new powers, including the authority to enforce the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and distribution of various tax credits and subsidies. This measure would remove enforcement authority, rendering the individual mandate, which requires Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a tax, and the already delayed employer mandate, completely meaningless.
The Obama Administration’s one-year delay of the employer mandate is prompting questions about whether or not they also considered extending the same courtesy to Americans who will be forced to comply with the controversial individual mandate at the beginning of the year.
During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) put the question to Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Mark Iwry, who wasn’t inclined to give a straight answer.
“Have you had any discussions at Treasury about the possibility of a delay of the individual mandate?” asked Price.
“Mr. Price, I’m not part of all the discussions at the Treasury, of course,” Irwy nervously replied.
The Georgia Congressman asked again, but rephrased his question due to Irwy’s evasiveness. “Have you, Mr. Iwry, had any discussions at all about considering a delay in the individual mandate?” he pointedly asked.
“Congressman, I do not recall being part of any discussion that involved a view on our part, or my part, that there would be a necessity to provide more transition relief than Congress has already provided for individuals under the [individual mandate],” Iwry told Price.
You can watch the exchange below. While there’s nothing but speculation that the Treasury Department weighed a delay of the individual mandate, Iwry clearly didn’t want to answer, which you can tell by his reaction to the line of questioning.
It’s been well-documented that Americans in many states will see their health insurance premiums rise because of ObamaCare. Earlier this month, an analysis of eight states by the Wall Street Journal showed that people looking to by individual coverage can expect to see a 150% increase in premiums over what they would pay today.
But The New York Times reported yesterday that those with or looking to buy individual coverage in New York will see insurance premiums drop because of ObamaCare:
Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under the federal health care law take effect, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday.
State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.
Supporters of the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, credited the drop in rates to the online purchasing exchanges the law created, which they say are spurring competition among insurers that are anticipating an influx of new customers. The law requires that an exchange be started in every state.
Despite a veto threat from the White House, the House of Representatives yesterday approved legislation to delay ObamaCare’s employer mandate and individual mandate.
The Treasury Department announced earlier this month that it would delay employer mandate penalties and reporting requirements until 2015. House Republicans have seized on this because it is an admission by the administration that the ObamaCare’s mandates are unworkable for businesses.
They also, however, note that any delay would have to be approved by Congress because the statutory effective date for the mandate is January 1, 2014. Basically, it’s illegal for the Obama Administration to unilaterally delay the mandate. But instead of acknowleding that congressional action is necessary, House Democrats spent the entire debate criticizing Republicans.
The Authority for Mandate Delay Act, sponsored by Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR), passed by a vote of 264 to 161. Thirty-five Democrats voted in favor of the measure while only one Republican voted against it.
Moments later, the House approved the Fairness for American Families Act, sponsored by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN). This legislation would, for one year, delay the individual mandate, which is one of the most controversial parts of ObamaCare.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is in complete denial about the Obama Administration’s decision to delay the ObamaCare employer mandate.
Faced with opposition and concerns from businesses about the impact of ObamaCare, the Treasury Department announced in a blog post earlier this month that they would delay the employer mandate until January 2015. This particular part of ObamaCare requires employers with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance coverage or pay a punitive tax.
During a press conference on Thursday, Pelosi was asked about the “virtue” in a delay in the individual mandate, as House Republicans are proposing, to correspond with the Obama Administration’s delay in the employer mandate. Doing her best impression of Baghdad Bob, Pelosi told reporters that the employer mandate hadn’t been delayed at all.
“No. Absolutely not. I don’t think it’s virtuous at all [in delaying the individual mandate]. In fact, the point is, is that the mandate was not delayed,” claimed a clearly delusional Pelosi. “Certain reporting by businesses that could be perceived as onerous, that reporting requirement was delayed, and partially to review how it would work and how it could be better. It was not a delay of the mandate for the businesses and there shouldn’t be a delay of the mandate for individuals.”