10 ObamaCare Fumbles
The Hill – Sam Baker and Elise Viebeck – 7/4/2013
Here is a recap of some of ObamaCare's biggest stumbles so far.
1. The CLASS Act
The healthcare law included a new insurance program for long-term care, known as the CLASS Act. The problem? It couldn’t be implemented as written. . . . that it could not be financially viable.
With the death of CLASS, the law lost about 40 percent of its total deficit reduction. . . . an accounting gimmick . . . It was formally repealed last year.
2. The federal insurance exchange
The ACA provides a literally unlimited budget to help states set up their own insurance exchanges — and no budget whatsoever for the federally run backup. So while HHS has shelled out billions of dollars to help 17 states build their own exchanges, it has had to scrape together money from other programs so that it can build the remaining 33 marketplaces. . . . it has said it needs another $1.5 billion for the exchanges — money Congress is highly unlikely to provide.
3. The employer mandate
. . . delay enforcement of ObamaCare's employer mandate by one year.
4. The small-business exchange
HHS delayed by one year a part of the new insurance exchanges for small business. . . .
HHS approved more than 1,200 waivers from a provision of the healthcare law that . . . each new batch of waivers to argue that the law was unworkable.
The mandate compelled businesses to report nearly all transactions worth more than $600 to the IRS.
Business groups characterized the provision as red tape, and lawmakers worked for nearly eight months to kill it. Repeal passed with broad bipartisan support in both chambers, and Obama signed it
7. Child-only plans
Starting in 2010, insurance companies had to cover children’s pre-existing conditions if they sold child-only plans — but they weren’t required to sell child-only policies in the first place. So, rather than take on the additional cost, some insurers quit writing new policies just for children.
The $5 billion Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan (PCIP) offered health coverage to sick patients waiting for full implementation of ObamaCare. But the program initially failed to enroll as many people as expected, and was plagued by high costs. In February, HHS stopped accepting new applicants into the program to ensure it would have enough money to cover the people already enrolled.
"Running out of money before the end of the year is something we're trying to avoid," said Gary Cohen, director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, in congressional testimony.
9. The Basic Health Plan
Democrats and state-level advocates were incredibly frustrated with HHS’s decision to delay a program known as the Basic Health Plan. The provision would let states bargain directly with insurance companies to create a scaled-down plan for people who aren’t eligible for Medicaid but might not be able to afford the more expensive private plans sold through the exchanges.
Its implementation was pushed to 2015 — another casualty of the intense focus on exchanges and the Medicaid expansion.
10. ObamaCare for congressional staff
During the legislative debate, Democrats accepted a GOP amendment saying members of Congress and their staffs had to use ObamaCare. But no one is quite sure how to implement the provision without putting staffers at a huge disadvantage.
The federal government, like all large employers that offer health benefits, pays for a portion of its employees’ healthcare costs. The question now is whether staff can put that contribution toward the purchase of an ObamaCare-compliant policy.
Forcing staffers to lose their employer contribution would treat them as if they didn’t work for an employer that offers health benefits, even though they do, and it would make jobs on the Hill much less attractive to young and mid-level staffers. But Republicans say they won’t help staff keep their employer contributions, even to buy a policy through an ObamaCare exchange.
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