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Obamacare News of the Day

The Federalist: Obama Administration To Insurers: There's No Such Thing As Illegal Immigrants When It Comes To Obamacare, All Immigrants Are Legal.

  • Lost in the overall shuffle concerning the many problems with Obamacare’s exchanges is the central problem of enforcement of those aspects of the law the president hasn’t waived or delayed yet – including the particular challenge when it comes to verifying the immigration status of those applying for taxpayer subsidized insurance.
  • On April 1st, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a new guidance document to health insurers. The CMS guidance says that people whose immigration status is uncertain will be presumed eligible for subsidized coverage in Obamacare’s marketplaces while a further review is pending.
  • While Obamacare specifically says undocumented immigrants are not eligible for subsidized coverage in the exchanges, it’s hard to see this directive to insurers as anything but an encouragement to willfully disregard the spirit of the statute. How long will it take to verify these questionable applications? How much money is being spent right now to subsidize such coverage? How would the government recoup any taxpayer dollars spent subsidizing illegal immigrants who inappropriately obtained subsidies?
  • This latest policy is of a piece with the prior quiet announcements from the administration that verification of eligibility in state exchanges would operate on the honor system, an honor system for employers incentivizing them to lie tied to delay of the employer mandate, and an honor system now being deployed in state exchanges for “qualifying life events” to obtain subsidized insurance.

Fox Business: Why Delaware's Health-Care Premiums Have Increased by 100%

  • Morgan Stanley’s health-care analysts conducted a proprietary survey of 148 brokers and found the average increases in the small group market are above 11%, and 12% in the individual market. What’s more, certain states are experiencing premiums five to 10 times higher than last year’s prices. In Delaware,  premiums are up by 100% on average while New Hampshire prices were 94% higher.

Washington Examiner: Reversal of Medicare Advantage cuts could be ominous sign for Obamacare

  • Central to the deficit reduction claims of President Obama's health care law is the assumption that its cuts to Medicare will be implemented and generate massive savings. But on Monday, theCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that planned cuts to Medicare Advantage had been reversed under pressure from insurance industry lobbyists during an election year. This is a potentially ominous sign for Obamacare.
  • Obamacare’s finances aren’t going to be rocked by this one change to Medicare Advantage in 2015, but if this is indicative of a broader trend in which the health care law doles out benefits while the taxes and spending cuts that were supposed to offset the costs get scaled back, it will make the law difficult to sustain. According to the Government Accountability Office, if Obamacare's Medicare cuts don't get implemented, instead of decreasing deficits, the law would increase long-term deficits by $6.2 trillion.

Politico Pulse: HOUSE REJECTS EXPATRIATE O-CARE BILL [the House is reminded that not all Obamacare fixes are going to sail through unopposed. This serves as a reminder that the only way to provide relief to all Americans suffering under Obamacare is full repeal]

  • Yesterday morning, House GOP leaders thought they’d be able to get another bill changing Obamacare passed by an easy suspension vote. By the end of the day, however, the House rejected the measure after prominent Democrats urged members to oppose it. The legislation would have softened the law’s rules for insurers covering people who work outside the U.S., but opponents said it defines “expatriates” so broadly that it carves out big exemptions for health plans and people they cover.
  • [RELATED] Madison Project: House Republicans Push Another Corporate Bailout Disguised as Partial-Repeal of Obamacare
    • The expatriate reform, on the other hand, is a parsimonious tweak (yet full repeal for one special interest) that serves no purpose but ameliorating the law, making some Democrats look good, and playing into the insidious and selfish strategy of big business and the insurance companies.  Moreover, Republicans have not attached any other concession to this bill like they did with the 1099 repeal.
    • [insurers after spending millions on promoting Obamacare] are looking for a bailout specifically for their corporate clients.  There’s no reason we should help them out.  It’s no surprise that Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), a conservative House member and lifelong physician, allegedly accused leadership of being in the pockets of big insurance companies.

The Hill: Treasury unsure if it has authority to delay ObamaCare individual mandate [not surprisingly Treasury also asserts the authority to supply Obamacare subsidies (and impose penalties on businesses) in states that did not create state-based exchanges. That assertion is a direct violation of the statutory language]

  • A Treasury Department official testified Tuesday that the department never analyzed whether it has the legal authority to delay the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate because officials concluded ahead of time that such a delay would harm individuals.
  • Treasury has defended its decision to delay the employer mandate, saying it was exercising its “longstanding authority to grant transition relief when implementing new legislation” under authority in the tax code that this, and previous administrations, have used to make changes to tax law. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said the administration will not consider delaying the individual mandate.