Tax Preparers’ New Role: Health-Coverage Advisors

Another article by New York Times reporter, Robert Pear, discusses what may be an inevitable if not compelling advisory-capacity shift for tax preparers – thanks to Obamacare. In the article, tax advisor Aris I. Bunnell, of Washington, D.C., cautions: “Many people don’t realize that it’s the law, and you have to have insurance.”

Significant provisions of Obamacare mandate individuals to have insurance and for larger employers to provide insurance for their employees. These are amendments written into the Internal Revenue code.  Both Jackson Hewitt and H & R Block claim they have assisted many apply for tax credits to help alleviate relevant expenses related to costs of private insurance obtained through the exchanges. Jackson Hewitt looks at this current scenario as both tax and healthcare advisor, as a business opportunity. They also view it as an opportunity to help individuals new to the Affordable Care Act. “It’s a tremendous business opportunity,” says Brian Haile, senior vice president for health policy at Jackson Hewitt. “We can do well by doing good.”

While the penalty essentially starts out as a fine or tax of $95, tax experts are trying to make it clear to clients that penalties could wind up being higher than first thought.

Read more at the New York Times.com

Cost of Soaring Medicaid Enrollment in RI Still a Mystery

More state level trouble for Obamacare. This time in Rhode Island and the issue is money. . . lots of it. Any time dollars and cents are cited with respect to a government program, ears perk up since it usually means more bad news. According to the Providence Rhode Island local TV website, WPRI, Obamacare will cost the tiny state more than anyone, especially state leaders, ever expected. Worse, no one has a specific cost figure to offer. Information obtained by WPRI, from the office of Gov. John Chafee, reveals that out of 64,590 Rhode Islanders signing up for Medicaid from October through March, using the state’s new HealthSource RI Marketplace, only 34 percent of those were actually eligible (prior to expansion of rules under the new healthcare law).

Usually states and the federal government divvy the tab equally for Medicaid, but in an effort to make Obamacare expansion less expensive for states, the Affordable Care Act called for the federal government to pick up 100 percent of Medicaid expansion expenses from 2014 to 2017, and at least 90 percent of that cost permanently. The larger federal funding is for a segment of the population, adults between the ages of 18 to 64, and it only applies for those without dependent children.

The state’s portion of Medicaid expenses is estimated to increase from $14 million in 2016 to 2017, to as high as $72 million in 2020-21. However, the federal government’s portion of that cost will remain much more, at $719 million by 2020-21, unless Congress amends the law.

Read more at WPRI.com 

Feds Begin Fingerprinting ‘High Risk’ Medicare Providers and Suppliers

Obamacare became law in 2010. Now, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is advising Medicare providers, as well as suppliers, of required fingerprint background checks. An article in the Weekly Standard further elaborates: The checks will ultimately apply to all with a five percent or larger stake in a Medicare supplier or provider who are deemed “high risk.”  This latest security wrinkle is a provision in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP Program integrity Provisions. It is included in Title E of the Affordable Care Act. This also grants the HHS Secretary wide discretion in the application of background check requirements – depending on the level of probability for abuse, fraud, or waste.

Fingerprints taken for the program will be sent to the FBI for a background check and will be housed by the government in accordance with both federal and FBI requirements.

Read more at The Weekly Standard.com

Obama Program Aims To Reduce ‘Births’ Among Blacks, Latinos

President Obama is seeking to lower both pregnancies and births among Latinos and blacks. An article in the Daily Caller by Editor Vince Coglianese cites top goals of the Centers for Disease Control which include reducing births and ramping up the “Teen Pregnancy Initiative.” The language as found in the CDC’s website firmly states the program’s goal is to lower both pregnancies and births among minority groups. While the CDC site outlining the program’s provisions does not mention abortion, the program costs $100 million dollars (as of 2010) and funds “partners” – some of whom lend their support to abortions. The municipal government of Hartford, Connecticut received a $900,000 portion of the CDC funds. Local teens can access the city’s site to find local abortion providers and make appointments.

Yet, the CDC is not ready to reveal any findings of its president’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. “At the conclusion of the project, in September 2015, data will be analyzed and evaluated,” CDC spokeswoman Renee Brown-Bryant told the Daily Caller.

Read more at TheDailyCaller.com

 

GOP Right: Where’s the O’Care Bill?

According to the Hill.com, high level conservatives are pressing Republican leadership to bring an Obamacare “replacement bill” to a vote by the August recess. Conservatives applauded when Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) swore to a vote in January. Ten weeks later, no alternative GOP plan has emerged, not even an outline form of what it might look like.

Avik Roy, a former advisor to Mitt Romney, now a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, believes (according to the Hill.com) its possible Obamacare will be fully repealed. An improved alternative for Republicans is to retain the insurance exchanges but restructure them so they operate in a more market-oriented manner to accommodate individuals on Medicare or Medicaid. It could also possibly make them more fiscally sound.

Read more at TheHill.com

 

UnitedHealth Group Says Obamacare, Sequestration Put ‘Burden’ On Q1 Profits

The company says the decline reflects a 35 cent per share “burden” related to health care reform (“Obamacare”) and sequestration. UnitedHealth also says the moves out of Washington reduced net margin by 110 basis points.

Read more at Forbes

How Fighting Obamacare Could Hurt the GOP

Despite apparent successes, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) managed only a 38% favorable rating in the Kaiser Family Foundation’s March tracking poll (up four points from January). Some 46% of respondents still held negative views.

Republicans relish the prospect of running against health care reform in this fall’s elections, but they forget that while Americans may not yet love Obamacare, but they like it better than anything the Republicans are offering.

Read more at MSNBC

Brain Patient’s Obamacare Nightmare: No Meds, No Doctors

Brain disorder victim Margaret Figueroa can’t find a doctor to treat her condition and she can’t get the medication she needs to fight it.

Her troubles began when she enrolled in an EmblemHealth insurance plan as she was required to do under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (better known as “Obamacare”).

Read more at Newsmax.com

GOP Bears Down on Obamacare to Oust Democrats

Even if Obamacare gains traction in the coming months, Republican House members are being advised to continue hammering the health care law, a narrative the GOP believes will carry them to victory in November 2014.

Read more at Newsmax.com

Some Democrats Defending Obamacare — Without Naming It

With enrollments higher than expected, and costs lower, some Democrats say it’s time to stop hiding from the president’s health care overhaul, even in this year’s toughest Senate elections.

Republicans practically dare Democrats to embrace “Obamacare,” the GOP’s favorite target in most congressional campaigns. Yet pro-Democratic activists in Alaska are doing just that, and a number of strategists elsewhere hope it will spread.

Read more at Newsmax.com