Step Right Up Folks And Get Your Obamacare Exemption


Everybody knows there are 50 ways to leave your lover, but did you know there are at least 14 ways to leave Obamacare?

The “hardship exemptions” to health care reform’s requirement for individuals to buy insurance range from being homeless to not being able to find an affordable plan to replace a plan that has been canceled. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services listed all 14 of these exemptions at least as far back as December, but House Republicans apparently just learned of No. 14: “You experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance.”

That’s because the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page pointed this one out this week, mistakenly thinking it was brand new.

This exemption could cover “essentially everyone,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, declared at a Capitol press conference Thursday.

“Quietly, without any fanfare, there’s a real question whether the White House has just abandoned the individual mandate, the heart of Obamacare itself,” Boehner said.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., accused the Obama administration of trying “to sneak through a unilateral change to Obamacare which essentially allows anyone who has experienced a hardship in obtaining health insurance to opt out of the individual mandate tax without requiring documentation.”

Actually, CMS does ask people who apply for this type of hardship exemption to “please submit documentation if possible.”

The CMS notice there are other types of exemptions from the individual mandate as well — you can apply for those when you file your federal income tax return.

With all of these exemptions, what use is the individual mandate?

That’s what Republicans want to know.

The Republican-controlled House is expected to pass legislation Friday that would delay Obamacare’s individual mandate for five years. This would save the government money, since it would spend less on Medicaid and subsidized health insurance premiums, but increase the number of uninsured Americans. The House bill would use the budget savings to prevent automatic cuts in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients.

The White House is for fixing this perennial Medicare payment problem, but promised to veto the House bill in the unlikely event it passes the Senate. Besides increasing the number of uninsured Americans, delaying the individual mandate also would increase health insurance premiums, the Congressional Budget Office notes.

Paying for a Medicare payment fix “by reducing coverage and increasing costs for millions would reverse progress being made in making health care affordable and secure for all Americans,” the White House said.

On Thursday, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, told Congress that the Obama administration will not extend the individual mandate, which went into effect this year. Individuals who don’t obtain “minimum essential coverage” this year will have to pay an additional tax when they file their tax returns in 2015.

Unless they get an exemption, of course.


Source:  The Business Journals

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