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IRS issues notice on tax penalties related to premium tax credits

Posted on January 27, 2015 | No Public Comments

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a notice that provides some relief from tax penalties for taxpayers who find out when they file their taxes that they received an overpayment of premium tax credits for buying health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The notice offers limited relief for taxpayers who have a balance due on their 2014 income tax return as a result of reconciling advance payments of the premium tax credit against the premium tax credit allowed on the tax return. To qualify for the relief, however, taxpayers must meet certain requirements and the relief applies only for the 2014 taxable year.

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New CBO report estimates ACA costs

Posted on January 26, 2015 | No Public Comments

A new report released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will result in $76 billion in net costs to the federal government in 2015 and $1,350 billion between 2016 and 2025. These costs come almost entirely from tax subsidies, accounting for $32 billion in 2015, and from the increase in spending from Medicaid expansions, $47 billion in 2015. CBO predicts that these costs will be offset slightly by an estimated $2 billion in penalties paid by the uninsured in 2015. This new CBO estimate of the ACA’s coverage provisions represents a 7 percent decline since their last estimate.

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CMS issues FAQ on Medicaid plan marketing rules

Posted on January 20, 2015 | No Public Comments

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) posted a document which clarifies whether Medicaid managed care plans can market their private qualified health plans (QHP) to potential enrollees. CMS says federal rules do not prohibit Medicaid plans from providing information about QHPs to potential enrollees who might enroll in such a plan as an alternative to the Medicaid plan. However, CMS recommends that plans consult contracts and their state Medicaid agencies for more information on what is allowed.

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White paper outlines potential King v. Burwell scenarios

Posted on January 14, 2015 | No Public Comments

Consulting firm Leavitt Partners released a white paper outlining several scenarios that Congress, the states, and the administration could take should the Supreme Court rule against the administration in the King v. Burwell case. Under the first scenario Congress could amend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a way that establishes the subsidies were meant for all Americans regardless of who establishes the exchange. In the second proposed scenario Congress would pair a fix to the ACA with “material concessions”, such as the employer mandate or premium tax credit thresholds. In the third scenario outlined in the white paper, Congress would take no action regarding the Court’s decision, leaving it up to states to create their own contingency plans. The Leavitt white paper also suggests several fall-back ideas that may be under consideration by the administration as well as potential state reactions.

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Studies examine impact of possible King v. Burwell decision

Posted on January 13, 2015 | No Public Comments

Two studies by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the RAND Corporation came up with similar findings regarding the Supreme Court’s potential decision in the King v. Burwell case. RWJF speculates that a ruling in favor of King, eliminating subsidies in federal exchanges, would shrink the nongroup insurance market by 9.7 million nonelderly adults and increase the number of uninsured Americans by 8.2 million in 2016. The RAND study also predicts that a ruling in favor of King could cause a 47 percent increase in premiums in federally facilitated marketplaces (FFM). The implications of the court’s decision could ricochet beyond those directly losing subsidies, affecting higher income individuals and even people who obtain coverage outside of the marketplaces.

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HHS issues proposed rule on summary of benefits and coverage

Posted on January 5, 2015 | No Public Comments

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a proposed rule, simultaneously released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL), regarding the summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) and the uniform glossary for health insurance coverage in the group and individual markets under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposed rule would change disclosure requirements to help plans and individuals better understand their health coverage and allow for informed comparisons of coverage options. The proposed regulation also makes amendments to the template for the SBC, instructions, sample language, guides for coverage example calculations, and the uniform glossary.

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IRS issues proposed rule on excepted benefits

Posted on January 5, 2015 | No Public Comments

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a proposed rule, simultaneously released by the Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), amending the conditions under which wraparound coverage can be considered an excepted benefit. The proposed regulation sets forth five requirements under which limited benefits provided through a group health plan that wrap around either eligible individual insurance or coverage under a Multi-State Plan constitute excepted benefits. These conditions include coverage of additional benefits, quantity limits, nondiscrimination, and plan eligibility and reporting requirements. The proposed rule also includes a pilot program that would allow limited wraparound coverage to be offered as excepted benefits to coverage for a limited time.

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CMS issues 2016 draft guidance on federal exchange participation

Posted on December 21, 2014 | No Public Comments

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published a draft letter to insurers who want to offer qualified health plans (QHP) in the federally run exchanges in 2016. The letter outlines key requirements that insurers must follow, including provider network and patient safety standards. It also explains how CMS plans to review plan rate increases and conduct oversight of marketing, agents, and brokers. The initial submission window for 2016 QHP applications would be from March 16 to April 15 2015. Certification notices and agreements with insurers would be sent between Aug. 17 and Sept. 15, according to the draft guidance.

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CMS releases monthly Medicaid and CHIP enrollment report

Posted on December 20, 2014 | No Public Comments

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a report showing state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment and growth. The data shows that Medicaid and CHIP grew by 9.7 million enrollees between the beginning of the first Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period and October 2014- that’s a 17 percent growth in average monthly enrollment, compared to the July-September 2013 period. Additionally, the report finds that enrollment in states that expanded Medicaid increased by 24 percent since first open enrollment, compared to 7 percent in states that did not expand. In total, Medicaid and CHIP had 68.5 million enrollees in October, an increase of about 400,000 over the previous month.

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Study examines coverage disparities under the ACA

Posted on December 18, 2014 | No Public Comments

A study by the Urban Institute finds that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may reduce, but not eliminate health care coverage disparities. The report projects that under the ACA uninsurance rates will fall for each racial/ethnic group, narrowing coverage differences between whites and each minority group, except for blacks. If, however, all states were to expand their Medicaid programs, researchers predict that uninsurance rates would fall further for all racial/ethnic groups, with blacks experiencing a marked reduction.

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