By Sarah Kliff. Facing tight deadlines and daunting workloads, states across the country are scaling back ambitions for implementing the Affordable Care Act.
At a monthly board meeting of Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, members of the standing-room-only crowd got a reminder that they, too, were behind schedule. The insurance marketplace they were working on nights and weekends won’t be completely ready on time.
“It is highly complex, it’s unprecedented and it’s not going to be smooth,” Kevin Counihan, chief executive of the state’s exchange, Access Health CT, told the group.
That’s why Connecticut — like other states across the country — has lowered the bar, doing what it can in the time it has left before the health-care law’s major programs are launched Oct. 1.
Although the states are promising to provide new marketplaces for individuals to compare and buy health insurance plans, the Web portals will be a bare-bones version of what was initially envisioned. Read more from this story HERE.
By Tony Pugh. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the federal government will lose $10 billion in employer penalties in 2015 because of the delayed enforcement. Likewise, many expect that federal outlays to help low- and moderate-income people purchase coverage will grow with employers no longer required to provide coverage next year.
“At a minimum, the federal revenue from fines is gone. More realistically, the costs of already bloated insurance subsidies will escalate and the red ink will rise,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank.
Jon Gruber, an MIT economist who helped design the federal health law, said the decision to forego the $10 billion in penalties was both pragmatic and political.
“Basically, it was their judgment that it was causing too many logistical and political headaches and it wasn’t that essential to the law, so they decided to just delay it a year and live with the revenue loss,” Gruber said Wednesday.
Obama officials said as much on Tuesday, when they announced plans to “revamp and simplify” the process of reporting the status of employee coverage and calculating appropriate penalties. “We will convene employers, insurers and experts to propose a smarter system and, in the interim, suspend reporting for 2014,” said White House special adviser Valerie Jarrett. Read more from this story HERE.
By Steven T. Dennis and Matt Fuller. President Barack Obama’s latest legal end run around Congress — delaying enforcement of the employer health mandate — has sparked more questions about whether he’s abusing his executive discretion under the Constitution.
The move announced late Tuesday was the latest in a string of decisions where the president, facing a divided Congress unable to get much done beyond keeping the government running, has taken matters into his own hands.
Where a previous president might have asked for a legislative fix if a mandate was proving too onerous for business, the Obama administration put out a couple of blog posts saying that, in listening to the business community, it decided not to enforce a key part of the 3-year-old health law for another year.
The administration notes that parts of laws are delayed in implementation all the time — including various pieces of the tax code.
A Treasury official said the administration has “longstanding administrative authority to grant transition relief when implementing new legislation like the ACA.” Read more from this story HERE.