Two decrees from Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama’s secretary of HHS, highlight Democrats’ principal healthcare goals for Obamacare: to redistribute money and to move away from insurance and toward pre-paid health care, preferably controlled by a federal government monopoly (“single-payer” health care).
This article quotes an Associated Press release from Lincoln, Nebraska. Karen Haase, a lawyer representing about 150 school districts in Nebraska, said districts are considering cutting thousands of part-time non-teacher employees’ hours in 2014 to avoid offering them health insurance benefits mandated by the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare). The act requires employers with at least 50 full-time equivalent workers to cover at least 60 percent of health care costs for employees working more than 30 hours per week. Haase says thousands of non-teaching employees could be offered extended health benefits, have their hours cut or be laid off. Haase doubts many districts will offer benefits to part-time staff working more than 30 hours.
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak has announced his support of Senate Bill 452, authored by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond. The proposal, which just passed a Senate panel, gives Oklahoma employers the option of not including contraceptives and abortions in employee insurance plans.
Gov. Bobby Jindal said Pres. Barack Obama should delay implementing his health care reforms to stave off the effects of $85 billion in federal budget cuts. During a debate with Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick on NBC’s Meet the Press, Jindal said the sequester should be an opportunity for the president to show how he would better deal with the budget deficit and shrink government.
The Obama administration is aggressively defending its contraception coverage policy in the courts, asking judges to require the companies bringing the lawsuits to provide contraceptives to their employees even before the legal fight over religious freedom is resolved.
The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) requires employers to offer coverage to all full-time employees and their dependent children aged 25 and younger. However, coverage of a spouse is optional. By denying coverage to spouses, employers not only save the annual premiums, but also the new fees that went into effect as part of the Affordable Care Act. In 2013, companies must pay $1 or $2 “per life” covered on their plans, a figure that jumps to $65 in 2014.
The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) demands that companies with 50 or more “full-time equivalent workers” offer health plans to employees working in excess of 30 hours a week. (“Equivalent” means that, for example, two 15 hour a week workers can equal one full-time worker.) Employers with more than 50 employees (or their equivalent in hours) that don’t offer insurance face a $2,000 penalty for each uncovered worker beyond 30 employees. Therefore, by hiring a 50th worker, the firm pays a penalty on the previous 20 as well. Thousands of employers will pay a $40,000 penalty if they expand by hiring a 50th worker. The law is essentially a $2,000 tax on each additional hire after that, so to move to 60 workers costs $60,000.
The article quotes a 2011 Hudson Institute study that claims this mandate will cost the franchise industry $6.4 billion and put 3.2 million jobs “at risk.”
In this opinion piece, Scott Milbank notes that Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a tea party Republican who was elected by campaigning against Obamacare and who fought the law in court, is now the seventh Republican governor to accept Obama’s expansion of government-funded health care for the poor. Scott even publicly made a moral case for Obamacare and the expansion of Medicaid.
Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that his state will go along with the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid to cover all residents under 138 percent of the federal poverty line. In states not agreeing to the expansion, those earning between 100 percent and 138 percent of poverty will be able to get tax credits to buy insurance on state exchanges. However, those below the poverty level not now poor enough to be eligible for unexpanded Medicaid will be left out.
Hospital and healthcare system CIOs are juggling short-term and long-term priorities, according to a new report from the Deloitte consulting firm. According to author Ken Terry, the biggest priorities for 12 CIOs recently interviewed by Deloitte were navigating the regulatory environment, laying the foundations for more capable and reliable IT systems, and preparing for accountable care and payment reform.