The overseer of Obamacare, the Department of Health and Human Services, is currently dealing with 550,000 applications as it attempts to verify people’s eligibility. Since mid-July 2014 the agency had already processed 650,000 files.
Perhaps sooner rather than later, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the case of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties.
The two family owned and operated businesses have challenged an Affordable Care act directive mandating that employers provide abortion and birth-control related drugs and/or treatments. Conestoga and Hobby Lobby are not alone in fighting this Obamacare provision and 49 others have joined the cause. These businesses now await a decision from the highest court in the land which determines whether they get to run their companies in ways aligned with their respective Christian faiths.
In 35 other such lawsuits, courts have issued injunctions denying the federal government mandate enforcement powers for this issue.
Ferdous L-Faruque reports in The Hill online, June 3, that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is willing to provide $300 million worth of assistance to aid community health centers in their treatment of recently covered patients.
“The money will be used to expand service hours, hire more healthcare providers, and add oral health, behavioral health, pharmacy, and vision services according to HHS.”
Healthcare centers number 1,300 and operate 9,000 facilities that provide care for 21 million people nationwide and in U.S. territories, according to the HHS.
Megan McArdle, in a May 21 Bloomberg View report, said, “The most transparent administration in history has decided to discontinue the monthly Affordable Care Act enrollment reports now that open enrollment is closed.”
A Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesperson justified the action by saying, “HHS issued monthly enrollment reports during the first marketplace open enrollment period in order to provide the best understanding of enrollment activities as it was taking place. Now that this time period has ended, we will look at future opportunities to share information about the marketplace that is reliable and accurate over time as further analysis can be done but we do not anticipate monthly reports.”
While the official open enrollment phase is over, it does not translate to a cessation of healthcare exchange (or marketplace) activity. McArdle adds, “Moreover it’s hard to understand why it would stop reporting. Pulling together a report takes work, of course. But it’s not like it needs to do extensive research in order to gather much of this data; it needs to know the numbers in order to run the system.”
According to The Hill.com on May16, 2014, if Obamacare’s risk corridor provisions can’t cover private insurer losses, “insurance companies can count on funds from the government.” Risk corridors are structured to fend-off rising premiums by shifting money from insurers with better than projected earnings to those with less-than-expected results.
Previously, the Obama administration guaranteed the temporary program would get off the ground in a “budget-neutral” way – without government money. Recently, though, federal health officials appeared to backtrack. Republicans negatively assess the corridors as an insurance industry bailout.
Also, according to the Hill, a 436-page rule as promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says, “[I]n the unlikely event of a shortfall for the 2015 program year. . . [The Department of Health and Human Services] will use other sources of funding for the risk corridors payments.”
The Obama administration has not provided an exact breakdown of where it has spent $2 billion since 2010 on implementing Obamacare.
However, a list included in the Health and Human Services Department’s $77 billion budget “justification” document released on Friday shows how the agency funded the creation of the Affordable Care Act.
It reveals that federal officials diverted $450 million last year from the healthcare law’s Prevention and Public Health Fund to finance Obamacare operations, including the disastrous rollout of the HealthCare.gov exchange website.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday, June 24, 2013, that the National Football League (NFL) has been “very actively and enthusiastically engaged” in discussions about helping encourage people to enroll in newly available insurance plans under Obamacare.
The HHS is also in talks with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to promote Obamacare.
The Obama administration is preparing for a massive public relations push during the summer of 2013. New insurance exchanges in each state must be open on October 1, 2013 to begin enrolling people in coverage that would begin January 1, 2014. The administration must counter public opinion of Obamacare, which is negative, along with misconceptions about the law.