Trump Administration Makes It Easier to Avoid Obamacare Tax Penalty

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced on Wednesday a new opportunity for those who failed to have health insurance in 2018 to avoid a hit on their taxes.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the so-called individual mandate required nearly all Americans to have some form of health insurance coverage or face a tax penalty. Traditionally, individuals were eligible for a hardship exemption from the penalty only under certain circumstances, such as homelessness, domestic violence, or natural disasters. Documentation needed to be submitted to qualify for the exemption.

The new policy allows hardship exemptions to be claimed for more general financial burdens and also eliminates the need to provide “the documentary evidence or written explanation generally required,” the CMS said in a statement… Read More at CNBC

Health Industry Experts Fear ‘Chaos’ if Texas Judge Suspends Affordable Care Act

A federal judge in Texas is weighing a request by 20 states to suspend the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a move that could lead to “chaos” in the health insurance market, some industry experts worry.

The states filed a lawsuit in February to have the health care act — also called Obamacare — declared unconstitutional. In arguments held last Wednesday, lawyers for the Republican-led states did not back off on their request for a preliminary injunction suspending the entire law… Read More at USA Today

Health Insurance Scams Soar Amid Obamacare Changes

President Donald Trump has vowed to dismantle Obamacare — and con artists have been listening. Earlier this year, the government nixed the so-called individual mandate that required all Americans to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty. And last month, new rules were adopted that allow millions of people to buy cheaper “temporary” health policies if they don’t get coverage through work.

That has created a boom in health insurance scams, experts say. Health care-related cons didn’t even register among the top 10 scams as recently as February, but they now account for nearly one-quarter of all illegal computer-generated calls, according to YouMail, a free robocall blocking service for cell phones… Read More at CBS News

Trump Administration Warns of ‘Chaos’ if Obamacare Is Blocked Too Soon

The Trump administration isn’t defending Obamacare from a legal attack that could finally slay the embattled health-care law, but the federal government cautioned Wednesday that an immediate and nationwide halt may trigger “chaos.”

Unlike the state of Texas, which urged a federal judge to block the Affordable Care Act right away, the Justice Department wants a court order not to take effect before Jan. 1, when the provision requiring people to pay a tax if they don’t have insurance is phased out.

Blocking Obamacare before January would “cause chaos in the insurance market,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett Shumate told U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor… Read More at Bloomberg

Fort Worth Is Ground Zero in States’ Lawsuit That Targets Obamacare Protections

Obamacare is headed back to court.

On Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act is scheduled for a 9:30 a.m. hearing before U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor.

Paxton is leading the charge in this case for 20 states, including Alabama, Florida, North Dakota, and South Carolina, to end the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“Obamacare is unconstitutional, plain and simple,” Paxton said recently.

This week, the issue is their request to stop enforcement of the Affordable Care Act. Ending the act would eliminate current protections for those with pre-existing conditions, such as pregnancy, arthritis and diabetes.

Attorneys from 20 states involved in this lawsuit maintain that Obamacare has been unconstitutional since last year, when the new tax bill eliminated the penalty for people who don’t have health insurance… Read More at Star-Telegram

Modest Premium Hikes as Obamacare Stabilizes

Millions of people covered under the Affordable Care Act will see only modest premium increases next year, and some will get price cuts. That’s the conclusion from an exclusive analysis of the besieged but resilient program, which still sparks deep divisions heading into this year’s midterm elections.

The Associated Press and the consulting firm Avalere Health crunched available state data and found that “Obamacare’s” health insurance marketplaces seem to be stabilizing after two years of sharp premium hikes. And the exodus of insurers from the program has halted, even reversed somewhat, with more consumer choices for 2019.

The analysis found a 3.6 percent average increase in proposed or approved premiums across 47 states and Washington, D.C., for next year. This year the average increase nationally was about 30 percent. The average total premium for an individual covered under the health law is now close to $600 a month before subsidies… Read More at ABC News

Fewer Middle-aged Stroke Survivors Skip Medicines Under Obamacare

With increased access to insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as Obamacare, fewer middle-aged stroke survivors are skipping medications that they previously might have struggled to afford, a U.S. study suggests.

Stroke survivors take an average of 11 medications a day, researchers note in JAMA Neurology. Half of stroke survivors under age 65 spend at least 10 percent of their disposable income on health care, and these middle-aged people are more likely to be uninsured than older people who qualify for Medicare… Read More at Reuters

Democrats Demand Trump Administration Improve Obamacare Oversight

Congressional Democrats are demanding that the Trump administration explain how it will improve Obamacare’s insurance exchanges, after a federal watchdog found current efforts lacking, buttressing their case that the administration is sabotaging the health law.

“The nation’s health department, which has the self-identified objective of ‘improving Americans’ access to health care,’ should not be working against the interests of patients and families and their goals of obtaining quality, affordable health insurance,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter Monday to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma.

The letter was signed by Sens. Patty Murray of Washington, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and by Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J… Read More at the Washington Examiner

A First: Obamacare Premiums to Decline in Georgia

The Obamacare rates for next year are in, and it’s a first: Rates are going down.

Following years of steep price hikes, two of the four companies that offer plans on the Affordable Care Act exchange in Georgia, also known as Obamacare, have proposed to lower their rates next year from what they charged in 2018.

According to figures for the individual insurance market released Thursday by the state Department of Insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia is proposing a tiny decrease in premiums for next year, with 2019 premium prices that are on average 0.3 percent lower than 2018’s premiums. Alliant Health Plans is decreasing its premiums by 10 percent… Read More at AJC.com

Media Ignore Record Low ObamaCare Rate Hikes — Anyone Want to Guess Why?

Democrats promised to make President Trump’s efforts to “sabotage” ObamaCare a big election issue this year. Then rate hikes for ObamaCare premiums started coming in well below expectations. Why isn’t this big news?

A few months ago, the Washington Post reported that Democrats were “centering their campaign to retake Congress … on a staunch defense of the Affordable Care Act.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer declared that “We Democrats are going to be relentless in making sure the American people exactly understand who is to blame” for-sky high rate hikes… Read More at Investors.com