Subsidies

Medicaid expansion also encouraging people not to work

There has been much focus on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released last week, the findings of which showed that Obamacare will result in 2.5 million fewer people working full-time jobs by 2024.

Republicans have seized on the report as proof that Obamacare discourages Americans from working so that they can retain health insurance subsidies through the law and, by extension hurt economic growth. Those points were confirmed by CBO Director Doug Elemendorf in congressional testimony the day following release of the report.

But, as Jason Hart of FreedomWorks notes, the nonpartisan budget agency also went into detail on Medicaid expansion, another part of the law that will discourage Americans from working:

“CBO estimates that expanded Medicaid eligibility under [Obamacare] will, on balance, reduce incentives to work,” the nonpartisan budget office opined, citing a National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper Media Trackers called attention to last summer.

CBO listed “expansion of eligibility for Medicaid” as the second most important Obamacare provision affecting the nation’s labor supply.

“In particular, studies of past expansions or contractions in Medicaid eligibility for childless adults have pointed to a larger effect on labor supply than CBO had estimated previously,” CBO wrote.

CBO director: Obamacare will increase deficits, creates disincentive to work

CBO Director Doug Elemendorf appeared before the congressional committee yesterday to testify on his agency’s budget outlook report. As one might image, given its explosive findings, the most the discussions centered around Obamacare.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) kicked off the hearing by noting that the CBO report shows that “autopilot spending” are driving budget deficits, but he quickly turned to the findings related to Obamacare.

“This report says the debt gets worse, and we have slower economic growth compared to the last forecast,” said Ryan in his opening remarks. “But what is particularly troubling is CBO’s projection of labor force participation. CBO says that about half of this decline is attributable to the aging of the population — most notably the retirement of the ‘baby boom’ generation.”

But CBO also says that government policies, especially the President’s healthcare law, are discouraging work. Washington is making this problem worse,” he said. “This does not have to be our fate. We need to reverse this decline.”

Elemendorf parsed through various parts of the report, going through points related to the federal budget and the economy, both in the short- and long-term. But he also touched on parts of the report dealing with Obamacare.

“The baseline projections show what we think would happen to federal spending, revenues, and deficits over the next 10 years if current laws were generally unchanged,” Elemendorf told the House Budget Committee. “Under that assumption, the deficit is projected to decrease again in 2015 to [$478 billion].”

CBO: Obamacare cost hits $2 trillion, law to reduce labor force by 2.5 million

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an absolutely devastating report on this morning, finding that Obamacare will cost the United States $2 trillion over the next 10 years. In addition to budgetary implications, the report explains that the law will reduce the number of full-time workers by 2.5 million workers over the same timeframe.

The costs of the taxpayer-funded health insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion provisions of the Affordable Care Act will exceed $2 trillion between 2014 and 2024. Once tax receipts related to Obamacare are factored in, the net-cost of the law is nearly $1.5 trillion in the 10-year budget window.

 FY 2014-FY 2024 budget deficit

The CBO estimates that budget deficits will increase by $7.3 trillion over the next 10 years, up from the $6.3 trillion projection it made last year. Obamacare is one of the contributing factors to the $1 trillion increase.

In March 2010, the CBO projected that Obamacare would cost $940 billion over 10 years and reduce the budget deficit by $138 billion. That projection was based on rosy scenarios that weren’t consistent with reality in Washington. It also included just six years of expenditures related to the law.

Hill staffers continue to worry about Obamacare’s impact

Congressional aides are getting a taste of the law that their bosses rammed down Americans’ throats, and the higher health plan costs and lax provider networks have them worried. You just can’t make this stuff up, folks:

A vast majority of top congressional aides say in a new survey that they are concerned about the effects of Obamacare on their staff, ticking off worries about changes to their benefits, higher costs and whether they’ll have access to local health care providers.

Ninety percent of staffers surveyed for a report released Monday by the Congressional Management Foundation said they are concerned about benefit changes under the health care law, while 86 percent are anxious about the financial hit and 79 percent cited worries to access.

Only about 35 percent of staffers said they have a “good understanding” of the changes to their health care plan under Obamacare, according to the survey. Under the health care law, all members of Congress and most congressional aides were required to enroll in the exchanges instead of staying on their federal health care plan.
[…]
Of the 163 aides who participated in the survey — which included House and Senate chiefs of staff, House district directors and Senate state directors — 79 percent said it was likely that the health care changes could contribute to staff exits. Fifty-two percent of those who responded worked in a Democratic office, while 48 percent were from GOP offices. The response rate for the survey was 15 percent.

Senator to sue over congressional Obamacare subsidies

The controversial decision by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that allows members of Congress and their staffers to keep generous subsidies for Obamacare is headed to court, via Politico:

Sen. Ron Johnson plans to file a lawsuit Monday against the Office of Personnel Management over its policy permitting lawmakers and Hill staff to receive Obamacare subsidies for their health plans.

The Wisconsin Republican and other opponents of the policy say that the OPM decision to allow the government to fund a portion of members’ and staffers’ health insurance is not authorized in the text of the Affordable Care Act.

Johnson has scheduled a news conference for 12:15 p.m. Monday on Capital Hill to discuss the suit. He will appear with Paul Clement, a high-profile attorney and former U.S. solicitor general who represented 26 states in their lawsuit against Obamacare’s individual mandate. Clement, an appellate lawyer, is supporting Johnson for possible appeals. Rick Esenberg, founder and president of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, will be his lead attorney.

The ObamaCare fix — or “exemption” — has been a hot button issue in Washington. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) pushed an amendment during the debate over Obamacare that required members of Congress and staffers to enroll in a health plan on the exchanges.

Higher premiums and higher deductibles — Thanks, Obamacare

The Obama Administration is making a push to get those who have started the application process on Healthcare.gov to come back to the website and complete their enrollments and selected a health plan.

Yesterday, this author received one of those emails, under the subject of “Complete your enrollment: Affordable plans are available in the Marketplace.”

“You’ve taken the first steps toward getting health coverage at HealthCare.gov, but you still need to complete your enrollment. We’ve made many improvements to our systems to help you,” said the email from Healthcare.gov.

“There are affordable plans available in the Health Insurance Marketplace right now. If you want coverage that will start as early as January 1, 2014, the enrollment deadline was recently extended to December 23, 2013,” the email continued, encouraging me to login and complete my enrollment. “We’re committed to making sure you get the quality, affordable health coverage you need.”

Truth be told, I only created an account to see for myself the serious concerns with the website’s rollout. I did briefly consider signing up for a health insurance policy for my wife and I, just to experience being on the individual market, then I came to my senses. I did, however, head back over to Healthcare.gov to see what plans were available to me in my home state of Georgia.

For the purpose of disclosure, I’m 32 years-old and my wife is 28. Admittedly, my wife and I use tobacco, so the premium prices could be much, much higher than the quotes on Healthcare.gov; not that I’m complaining because it’s a lifestyle decision we’ve made.

IRS inspector general warns of Obamacare subsidy fraud

Some have been praising the Internal Revenue Service for the lack of problems in its implementation of Obamacare. For example, Politico recently bragged that the scandal-plagued agency “has not messed up — yet” in its substantial role in the law.

The same cannot be said for other agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), given disastrous federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov.

But a recently released report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the watchdog who oversees the IRS, found that the agency doesn’t have a plan in place to address Obamacare subsidy fraud:

The new tax credits that the IRS will handle under ObamaCare are susceptible to fraud, according to a new federal audit released Tuesday.

Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration said the IRS has yet to complete its strategy for battling fraud concerns like wrongly issued tax credits. The IRS’s systems for protecting private information also have software flaws, the audit found.

Many young people not getting Obamacare subsidies despite promises

Obama and young people

President Barack Obama and administration officials have been promoting the subsidies available to many Americans looking to purchase health insurance in hopes that it will draw people to enroll, especially young and health individuals. But CNN reported last week that many of the people that the administration desperately needs to sign-up for coverage won’t have access to these subsidies, after all:

One of the basic tenets of Obamacare is that the government will help lower-income Americans — anyone making less than about $45,900 a year — pay for the health insurance everyone is now mandated to have.

But a CNN analysis shows that in the largest city in nearly every state, many low-income younger Americans won’t get any subsidy at all. Administration officials said the reason so many Americans won’t receive a subsidy is that the cost of insurance is lower than the government initially expected. Subsidies are calculated using a complicated formula based on the cost of insurance premiums, which can vary drastically from state to state, and even county to county.

That doesn’t change the fact that in Chicago, a 27-year old will receive no subsidy to help offset premiums of more than $165 a month if he makes more than $27,400 a year.

In Portland, Oregon, subsidies for individuals making just $28,725 a year phase out for those younger than 35 years old.

More signs Healthcare.gov won’t be ready by November 30

During testimony before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, an Obama Administration official admitted that as much as 40% of the IT systems needed to support the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov, still need to be built so that the scheme can function properly.

“How much do we have to build today, still. I mean, what do we need to build — 50%, 40%, 30%?” Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) asked Henry Chao, the deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“I think it’s — just an approximation — we’re probably sitting somewhere between 60% and 70% [completion],” said Chao, a key official in construction of the website, adding after a follow up that payment systems to insurers still need to be built.

That’s right, folks, the payment system that would send premiums to insurers for the health plans purchased on the federal exchange has not been built.

Obamacare “success story” can no longer afford health plan

A lie has short legs, or so the saying goes.

Now that we know that President Obama was briefed earlier in 2013 on the possible issues concerning the health care website and in spite of his claims that he “did not have enough awareness” of the potential for problems, another report shows that the ObamaCare fan from Washington who got a shout-out from Obama during a speech last month won’t be getting affordable health insurance after all.

She now says she has received a letter from the state indicating that she doesn’t qualify for a tax credit, cutting her affordable health insurance dream short. She was led to believe she could finally afford health insurance but has now learned that she just can’t do it, in spite of all the promises we have heard repeatedly over the last years every time President Obama talked about his incredible new law.

According to Jessica Sanford, the Washington woman whose letter was brought to Obama’s attention last month, she now feels embarrassed: “it has completely turned around on me. I mean, completely.”

The ObamaCare enthusiast now says they must “own up to what is going on, they have to fix it. They can’t just go around and say this is working great. In my opinion they ought to shut it down and just get all of it straightened out.” While Sanford’s case is not different from several others, it is special because Obama himself used her story as evidence that the program is a success.


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