HealthCare.Gov Website faces new Challenges: Tax Forms

The federal agency that had trouble launching a health insurance website last fall has a massive new project. Any glitches on this one could delay tax refunds for many Americans. Because of complicated connections between the new health care law and income taxes, the Department of Health and Human Services must send out millions of new tax forms next year. They’re like W-2s for people getting health insurance tax credits under President Barack Obama’s law. The forms are called 1095-As, and list who in each household has health coverage, and how much the government paid each month to subsidize those insurance premiums. Nearly 5 million people have gotten subsidies through HealthCare.gov. If the forms are delayed past their Jan. 31 deadline, some people may have to wait to file tax returns — and collect their refunds. A delay of a week or two may not sound like much, but many people depend on their tax refunds to plug holes in family finances. The uncertainty is unnerving to some tax preparation companies, which try to run their filing season operations like a military drill. The Obama administration says it’s on task, but won’t provide much detail. States operating their own health …

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Are You Wondering Who’s Paying the new Obamacare Tax?

When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, it required health insurers, hospitals, device makers and pharmaceutical companies to share in the cost because they would get a windfall of new, paying customers. But with an $8 billion tax on insurers due Sept. 30 — the first time the new tax is being collected — the industry is getting help from an unlikely source: taxpayers. States and the federal government will spend at least $700 million this year to pay the tax for their Medicaid health plans. The three dozen states that use Medicaid managed-care plans will give those insurers more money to cover the new expense. Many of those states — such as Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee — did not expand Medicaid as the law allows, and in the process turned down billions in new federal dollars. Other insurers are getting some help paying the tax as well. Private insurers are passing the tax onto policyholders in the form of higher premiums. Medicare health plans are getting the tax covered by the federal government via higher reimbursement. Other insurers are getting some help paying the tax as well. Private insurers are passing the tax onto policyholders in the form of …

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The Health Care Law in Limbo

Earlier this week, two decisions were released in recent court challenges to the Affordable Care Act. At issue in both cases is the legality of the health insurance premium tax credits that are being provided to individuals who need financial assistance to purchase a plan in the health insurance exchanges. Right now, the tax credits are being provided for everyone who qualifies, regardless of whether they are purchasing from a state-based exchange or the exchange established by the federal government. The challengers in these cases ascertain the Affordable Care Act only intended to provide these subsidies for exchanges established by the states. The Obama administration argues that Congress intended for individuals in every state, regardless of the type of exchange, to have access to needed financial assistance. These legal challenges are important because only 14 states have established their own health insurance exchange. If the tax credits were restricted, people in 36 states could lose access to their health insurance. The two decisions were released on the same day. In the first, Halbig v. Burwell, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that the tax credits were not legal for insurance purchased in the federal exchange. …

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Can Obamacare Succeed Without Subsidies?

President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, faces new scrutiny in the courts, raising additional questions about the future of Obamacare. In late July, two federal appeals court panels issued contradictory rulings within hours of each other on the legality of one of the law’s key components: subsidies to help people pay for health insurance. At issue in both lawsuits was whether the wording of the law authorizes the government to make tax credits available to subsidize the cost of health insurance premiums for millions of qualifying middle- and low-income Americans who purchase insurance using healthcare.gov, the federal exchange, or only for those who use state-run marketplaces. The reasoning behind the opposing rulings boiled down to whether the judges strictly interpreted the letter of the health care law or its spirit. In a major blow to Obamacare, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2 to 1 that the health care law, as written, restricts tax credit subsidies to people who purchase health insurance through marketplaces that are “established by the State.” In his decision, Judge Thomas Griffith, appointed to the court by President George W. …

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The Power of Prevention

Benjamin Franklin once said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” yet 279 years later his words still have not been successfully put into medical practice. It is estimated that 70 percent of deaths in America are linked to preventable conditions, including heart disease, stroke, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Yet the U.S spends 75 percent of its $2.8 trillion annual health care budget on treating disease but only 3-5 percent on prevention. [9] While health expenditures in the United States are more than double the average spent by other industrialized nations and account for 18 percent of the U.S. GDP, America ranks only 24th out of 30 among these countries on length of life expectancy. Research has identified important behavioral risk factors associated with premature deaths in the United States including tobacco use, poor diet and physical activity patterns, alcohol abuse, firearms, unsafe sexual practices, motor vehicle accidents, and illicit use of drugs. [3] Thus, a “miracle cure” for reducing premature deaths in America could be simpler than commonly believed; it is estimated that healthy lifestyle changes has the potential to decrease the chronic disease burden in the U.S. by as much as 80 percent. [1] …

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Supreme Court Poised To Rule on Obamacare Birth Control Mandate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is poised to deliver its verdict in a case that weighs the religious rights of employers and the right of women to the birth control of their choice. The court meets for a final time Monday to release decisions in its two remaining cases before the justices take off for the summer. The cases involve birth control coverage under President Barack Obama’s health law and fees paid to labor unions representing government employees by workers who object to being affiliated with a union. Two years after Chief Justice John Roberts cast the pivotal vote that saved the health care law in the midst of Obama’s campaign for re-election, the justices are considering a sliver of the law. Employers must cover contraception for women at no extra charge among a range of preventive benefits in employee health plans. Dozens of companies, including the Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby, claim religious objections to covering some or all contraceptives. The methods and devices at issue before the Supreme Court are those that Hobby Lobby and furniture maker Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. of East Earl, Pennsylvania, say can work after conception. They are the emergency …

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Once Again U.S. Has Most Expensive, Least Effective Healthcare System!

A report released Monday by a respected think tank ranks the United States dead last in the quality of its health-care system when compared with 10 other western, industrialized nations, the same spot it occupied in four previous studies by the same organization. Not only did the U.S. fail to move up between 2004 and 2014 — as other nations did with concerted effort and significant reforms — it also has maintained this dubious distinction while spending far more per capita ($8,508) on health care than Norway ($5,669), which has the second most expensive system. “Although the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country and has the highest proportion of specialist physicians, survey findings indicate that from the patients’ perspective, and based on outcome indicators, the performance of American health care is severely lacking,” the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based foundation that promotes improved health care, concluded in its extensive analysis. The charts in this post are from the report. The data for the 2014 report was collected before the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) went into full effect, so that reform may eventually boost the U.S. out of last place by providing health insurance to some of the …

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Right Now…

Right now, 36 states rely on HealthCare.gov, the federal exchange, to enroll people in health coverage. At least two more states are opting in next year, with a few others likely to follow. Only two states are trying to get out. That’s precisely the opposite of the Affordable Care Act’s original intent: 50 exchanges run by 50 states. The federal option was supposed to be a limited and temporary fallback. But a shift to a bigger, more permanent Washington-controlled system is instead underway — without preparation, funding or even public discussion about what a national exchange covering millions of Americans means for the future of U.S. health care. It’s coming about because intransigent Republicans shunned state exchanges, and ambitious Democrats bungled them. Republicans had warned all along that President Barack Obama’s health law would lead to greater Washington control. “This was all predictable,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a physician who sees growing federal control of the health system hurting patients. “Our friends on the other side didn’t listen.” Tevi Troy, a health expert who served in the George W. Bush administration and advised Mitt Romney in 2012, says the country needs to stop and discuss the consolidation. “We’re kind …

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Healthcare Solutions Team Ranks 16th in Crain’s Fast Fifty

We are tooting our own horn! Here is a link for you to click on and go to the wonderful article about our company Healthcare Solutions Team! Enjoy!  http://bit.ly/1lsf8Nu

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Obamacare Ups Health Insurance Costs

Labor unions have, of course, been among President Obama’s most reliable supporters. Unions’ support was critical to the passage of Obamacare in 2010. But unions are continuing to learn, to their apparent surprise, that their members will bear many of the costs of the new health law. Now we learn that some laborers are preparing to strike, if they are forced to absorb the higher health-insurance costs that the Affordable Care Act requires. “When we first supported the calls for health-care reform, we thought it was going to bring costs down,” a lawyer for the Laborers International Union of North America, or LIUNA, told Kris Maher and Melanie Trottman of the Wall Street Journal. But that’s not what’s happening. Maher and Trottman today discuss several cases where unionized workers and their employers are being forced to absorb higher costs as a result of the law. Large employers frustrated that Obamacare doesn’t decrease health costs Last year, I noted the case of Delta Air Lines, which told the Obama Administration that it would be spending $100 million more on health insurance in 2014 relative to 2013, mostly driven by Obamacare. Obamacare’s “slacker mandate” requiring plans to cover adult children under 26 means higher net costs …

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