Healthcare News January 31, 2013

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Mandate moves forward

    The Obama administration had a clear message Wednesday as it issues rules for the healthcare law’s individual mandate: Not many people will be affected by the new requirement to buy insurance or pay a penalty.

    Wednesday’s regulations emphasized exceptions to the individual mandate. They include carve-outs for religious objections as well as income-related standards to ensure that people who can’t afford insurance aren’t forced to buy it.

    The Department of Health and Human Services and the IRS noted that less than 2 percent of taxpayers are expected to have to pay the mandate’s penalty, which starts at $65 next year and rises to $695 by 2016.

    The mandate penalty “applies only to the limited group of taxpayers who choose to spend a substantial period of time without coverage despite having ready access to affordable coverage,” HHS said in a fact sheet on the new rules.

    Healthwatch has the full story on the new regulations.

  • Watchdog slams DNC, Sebelius in FEC complaint

    A government watchdog group is claiming that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) failed to properly disclose its support for a 2011 trip in which Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act.

    The DNC classified its payment to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department, which Sebelius leads, as an “operating” rather than an “independent” expenditure, Cause of Action said.

    The group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Wednesday. 

  • Families still excluded from health law’s ‘affordability’ standard

    Some families might not have access to “affordable” healthcare coverage under rules the Obama administration released Wednesday.

    The new regulations leave intact a policy that advocates say could leave millions of families without guaranteed access to affordable coverage. 

    Consumer advocates have pressed the administration to change its interpretation, but regulations issued Wednesday reiterated the more limited approach the administration has taken in the past.

  • HHS clarifies exemptions from individual mandate in states that buck Medicaid expansion

    As the Obama administration took new steps Wednesday to implement the healthcare law’s individual mandate, it clarified an exemption for people whose governors don’t take part in the expanded Medicaid program.

    The law’s unpopular individual mandate requires most taxpayers to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS. But there are several exceptions to the policy, and the Health and Human Services Department emphasized those carve-outs in newly issued regulations Wednesday.

    Most of the exceptions are spelled out in the law itself, but the Health and Human Services Department clarified or expanded a few key provisions.

    Notably, HHS clarified that the mandate doesn’t apply to people who are eligible for Medicaid but live in states that don’t take part in the law’s Medicaid expansion.

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