A couple schadenfreudes trickled in over Memorial Day
Hospital systems around the country have started scaling back financial assistance for lower- and middle-income people without health insurance, hoping to push them into signing up for coverage through the new online marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act.Charity doesn't make people more dependent on government and encourage them to vote for democrats. Can't have that.
The trend is troubling to advocates for the uninsured, who say raising fees will inevitably cause some to skip care rather than buy insurance that they consider unaffordable. Though the number of hospitals tightening access to free or discounted care appears limited so far, many say they are considering doing so, and experts predict that stricter policies will become increasingly common.
Driving the new policies is the cost of charity care, which is partly covered by government but remains a burden for many hospitals. The new law also reduces federal aid to hospitals that treat large numbers of poor and uninsured people, creating an additional pressure on some to restrict charity care.
I.R.S. Bars Employers From Dumping Workers Into Health Exchanges
Many employers had thought they could shift health costs to the government by sending their employees to a health insurance exchange with a tax-free contribution of cash to help pay premiums, but the Obama administration has squelched the idea in a new ruling. Such arrangements do not satisfy the health care law, the administration said, and employers may be subject to a tax penalty of $100 a day — or $36,500 a year — for each employee who goes into the individual marketplace.This is interesting, because one of the possible benefits of the Obamacare law was a weaning of the United States away from an employee based system. I think the switch to a mandated system was worse, but now we're seeing that benefit eroded.
The ruling this month, by the Internal Revenue Service, blocks any wholesale move by employers to dump employees into the exchanges.
Under a central provision of the health care law, larger employers are required to offer health coverage to full-time workers, or else the employers may be subject to penalties.
Many employers — some that now offer coverage and some that do not — had concluded that it would be cheaper to provide each employee with a lump sum of money to buy insurance on an exchange, instead of providing coverage directly.
Christopher E. Condeluci, a former tax and benefits counsel to the Senate Finance Committee, said the ruling was significant because it made clear that “an employee cannot use tax-free contributions from an employer to purchase an insurance policy sold in the individual health insurance market, inside or outside an exchange.”Pretty much typical of this "my way or no way" administration.
If an employer wants to help employees buy insurance on their own, Mr. Condeluci said, it can give them higher pay, in the form of taxable wages. But in such cases, he said, the employer and the employee would owe payroll taxes on those wages, and the change could be viewed by workers as reducing a valuable benefit.
Andrew R. Biebl, a tax partner at CliftonLarsonAllen, a large accounting firm based in Minneapolis, said the ruling could disrupt arrangements used in many industries. “For decades,” Mr. Biebl said, “employers have been assisting employees by reimbursing them for health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. The new federal ruling eliminates many of those arrangements by imposing an unusually punitive penalty.”
In more news buried in this article, states will no longer be allowed to regulate the felonious and ex-ACORN Obamacare
In a separate rule, the administration prohibits states from imposing onerous restrictions on insurance counselors, who educate consumers and help them enroll in health plans. Under the rule, states cannot establish standards that impair the counselors’ ability to help consumers or to perform other tasks required by federal law.
In January, a federal district judge in Missouri found that the state was illegally obstructing the activities of insurance counselors, including those known as navigators. The state has appealed the decision.