Obamacare: Officailly a Hot Mess, and It Hasn’t Even Started Yet

Photo By: MAURO CATEB

More delays and “bumps in the road” ahead of the implementation of Obamacare:

Washington’s exchange said Wednesday that it will not be ready on Oct. 1 to calculate the tax subsidies people can receive to help purchase private insurance.

The D.C. exchange also will not immediately be able to determine eligibility for Medicaid.

via DC delays key pieces of ObamaCare exchange – The Hill’s Healthwatch.

Also this:

The Obama administration is delaying another piece of Obamacare — this time postponing enrollment in most of the small-business exchanges scheduled to open Oct. 1.

Small businesses looking to enroll in coverage on so-called SHOP exchanges run by the federal government can start their applications on Oct. 1 — they just won’t be able to enroll online until November.

There is what’s known as the “Wedding Tax” in Obamacare:

There may be contrary examples, but in all of my research into the inner workings of Obamacare as embodied in Kaiser’s model, I was unable to find a single instance where staying married led to a lower net healthcare premium compared to divorcing and living together. Clearly, many couples who are considering marriage, especially after several years of seeing formerly married couples regress to cohabiting, will look at Obamacare’s “wedding tax” and say, “Never mind.” The effect on society will be incalculable, and certainly not for the good.

As designed, Obamacare threatens to turn cohabiting while functionally living as if married into a national sport.

Read more, including examples of how this will affect families over at PJ Media.

Of course, none of this even touches on the 280 + employers, including some state governments, who have cut workers’ hours to stay below the new 29 hour part-time threshold. Nor does it mention the multitude of waivers being handed out like candy by this administration – including for Congress and their staffers, who requested a waiver for fear of a “brain drain.”

But never fear, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a “Subsidy Calculator” which you can try out right here:

Are Blue States getting a better deal from Obamacare?

While many residents in New York and California may see sizable decreases in their premiums, Americans in many places could face significant increases if they buy insurance through state-based exchanges next year.

That’s because these people live in states where insurers were allowed to sell bare-bones plans and exclude the sick, which has kept costs down. Under Obamacare, insurers must offer a package of essential benefits — including maternity, mental health and medications — and must cover all who apply. But more comprehensive coverage may lead to more expensive insurance plans.

By: Pete


Under Obamacare, all Americans must have insurance coverage starting in 2014 or face penalties of $95 or 1% of family income, whichever is greater. Enrollment in the exchanges begins October 1, with coverage kicking in in January. Plans will come in four tiers, ranging from bronze to platinum.

Some lightly regulated states, including Indiana, Ohio, Florida and South Carolina, have recently released preliminary rate information highlighting steep price increases. Unlike the blue states of California and New York, these are Republican-led states that have strongly opposed the Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is officially known.

Read more here – Where Obamacare premiums will soar – Aug. 6, 2013.

 

Obamacare Losing Support

Obamacare losing support

The landmark health-reform law passed in 2010 has never been very popular and always highly partisan, but a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that a group of once loyal Democrats has been steadily turning against Obamacare: Democrats who are ideologically moderate or conservative.

Just after the law was passed in 2010, fully 74 percent of moderate and conservative Democrats supported the federal law making changes to the health-care system. But just 46 percent express support in the new poll, down 11 points in the past year. Liberal Democrats, by contrast, have continued to support the law at very high levels – 78 percent in the latest survey. Among the public at large, 42 percent support and 49 percent oppose the law, retreating from an even split at 47 percent apiece last July.

In a poll heavily weighted Democratic, Obamacare is losing support, even with Democrats!

 

Sources:

Moderate Democrats are quitting on Obamacare | The Fix.
July 2013 Washington Post-ABC News poll

29 Hours is the New 39 Hours

It seems that WaPo is just now discovering something that many folks in the workforce have known for some time – that Obamacare regulations are directly responsible for so many businesses cutting the definition of Part-Time from 39 hours, to 29 hours.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration delayed the employer insurance requirement until January 2015. But the state of Virginia, like some other employers around the country that capped part-timers’ hours in anticipation of the initial deadline, has no plans to abandon its new 29-hour-a-week limit.

The impact on Pace and thousands of other workers in Virginia is an unintended consequence of the health law, which, as the most sweeping social program in decades, is beginning to reshape aspects of American life.

Under the law, companies with 50 or more workers will be required to provide health insurance to all their full-time employees, or face significant fines.

The decision to delay that requirement was welcomed by business groups, which said companies needed more time to adapt to the law. But the delay has emboldened the law’s critics, who say it is evidence the statute is ill-conceived and should be repealed.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that the country, which remains deeply divided about the law, is similarly split about the delay in the employer requirement. Fifty-one percent say they support the delay, while 45 percent say they do not. The public is also divided over whether the setback means the law is fatally flawed.

But why 29 hours? Why did the authors of Obamacare decide to change the definition of part-time? The answer is pretty simple, they had no clue how business works. They had no idea that so many businesses in this country survive because of part-time work.

Part of the dilemma lies in the definition of “full-time,” which diverges from the industry standard of 40 hours per week. Advocates say the 30-hour bar was supposed to discourage employers from simply shaving a few minutes off a full-time worker’s hours to skirt the law. But it turns out that “an awful lot of people work less than 40 hours a week,” said Timothy Jost, a health policy expert and consumer advocate.

They also completely ignored the enormous financial burden they would be placing on business. The article uses the state of Virginia to brilliantly explain why so many people are finding their hours cut as businesses prepare for the coming regulations:

Virginia’s situation provides a good lens on why. The state has more than 37,000 part-time, hourly wage employees, with as many as 10,000 working more than 30 hours a week. Offering coverage to those workers, who include nurses, park rangers and adjunct professors, would have been prohibitively expensive, state officials said, costing as much as $110 million.

“It was all about the money,” said Sara Redding Wilson, director of Virginia’s Department of Human Resources Management. “If we could cover everyone, we would.”

That’s $110 Million dollars, just for one year of coverage for the State’s part-time staff. In my own city, Suffolk, the school system found out it will cost $182,000 for the first year that the mandates are in place, and that is with taking all measures possible to reduce hours for the part-timers below 29 a week. This from a school district that is already greatly underfunded, and overburdened by state and federal mandates. If my city’s school system is struggling with funding this, it’s a good bet that other cities’ school systems will be as well.

Support for Obamacare is falling. Remember Ms. Pelosi’s statement? “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” Well, they used some political tricks, and got the thing passed. The more we find out about what is in it, the more people do NOT like it!

 

Sources:

Health-care law is tied to new caps on work hours for part-timers – The Washington Post.

Schools Weigh Affordable Care Act – Suffolk News Herald

Obamacare’s cost to our schools: $180,000 the first year.

For a school system that is already strapped for cash, Obamacare is a budget-buster.

When the mandate does go into effect, the district can either not offer coverage and pay $2,000 per employee annually, or provide coverage but pay a penalty for any qualified employee who uses the exchange the act requires states to establish, where individuals and businesses can select affordable plans.

This comes from the Suffolk News Herald. Ms. Wendy Forsman has been in charge of making sure the Suffolk Public School system is in compliance with the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare. You remember, the bill we had “to pass, so we could find out what was in it.”

The cheapest option would be for the school system to drop coverage & pay each employee 2 grand a year to find their own coverage. Problem is, 2 grand doesn’t even begin to cover the cost of health insurance, especially not for a family. Losing that benefit will surely drive most of the teachers in our school system away, and make it very hard to attract new, quality teachers. That is precisely why the school system has chosen the other option, despite it’s high cost, and potential for fees:

Suffolk Public Schools appears to be going with the “play” option, requiring it to offer insurance covering at least 60 percent of average medical costs to employees working at least 30 hours per week for at least 90 days, Forsman said.

Also, the cost of coverage for employees making less than four times the federal poverty line cannot exceed 9.5 percent of their household income, and that poses the greatest risk for the district penalty-wise, Forsman said.

“We have no way of determining household income, so we have to look at individual income and assume that’s all they have,” she said.

If the assumption is wrong, the penalty kicks in.

“If we offer insurance and the employee goes to the exchange and are eligible for the exchange, we have to pay $3,000 as a penalty,” Forsman said.

On top of that, there is the problem of part-time employees (AKA Substitute Teachers). If any part-timer creeps over 30 hours a week, the school system could be in trouble for not providing them with benefits. The solution: a whole lot of subs are going to find their hours cut.

The requirement to extend coverage to all employees working 30 or more hours a week, known as “fair access,” also could be problematic when it comes to substitute teachers, whose hours can creep above the threshold.

The district has taken steps to ensure employees working 30 or more hours a week and exceeding the income threshold are getting coverage, Forsman said.

Software handling substitute placements can also be set to ensure employees don’t exceed 29 hours, she said.

“We feel like we are in a good position to not pay that penalty,” she said.

But the kicker is, even with all these steps, the school system will have to pay $180,000 in fees to the Federal Government, on top of the costs of implementing all the changes, and ensuring the penalties don’t kick in:

Despite its efforts to avoid penalties, the district will still have to pay Transitional Reinsurance and Insurance fees to the Department of Health and Human Services, and Patient Centered Outcomes Research fees to the IRS, with an estimated annual cost of $172,500 and $5,476, respectively.

And that doesn’t even account for the cost of staff time to implement all these changes and keep track of everything to avoid penalties.

It will also have to devote extra staff time generating several employee notices about the new options, Forsman added.