KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

For A Year, Consumers Will Be On The Honor System For Health Law Subsidies

With the delay in the employer mandate, the administration announced Friday that it would scale back verification rules on enrollees' income and health status.

The Washington Post: Health Insurance Marketplaces Will Not Be Required To Verify Consumer Claims
The Obama administration announced Friday that it would significantly scale back the health law's requirements that new insurance marketplaces verify consumers' income and health insurance status. Instead, the federal government will rely more heavily on consumers' self-reported information until 2015, when it plans to have stronger verification systems in place (Kliff and Somashekhar, 7/5).

Reuters: Delay In Obamacare Requirement Puts Onus On The Honor System
Data on what coverage employers offer and what it costs, to be provided to the Internal Revenue Service, is also meant to help verify whether consumers qualify for government subsidies to purchase health insurance on state- and federally run online exchanges that open on October 1. President Barack Obama's healthcare reform needs millions of people to enroll in coverage sold on the exchanges in their first year in order to work, spreading the financial risk among millions of consumers (Begley, 7/5). 

Kaiser Health News: FAQ: What Workers And Employers Need To Know About The Postponed Employer Mandate
Surprising both friends and foes of the health law, the Obama administration on Tuesday announced the delay of a key provision: the requirement that all but the smallest employers offer medical coverage or pay a fine. … Meanwhile other parts of the law remain on track for implementation next year, according to officials. Here’s what the change means — and doesn't mean — for workers and employers (KHN staff, 7/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Penalty Delay Clouds Individual Mandate
Supporters of the 2010 Affordable Care Act characterized the delay as a hiccup and said new health-insurance exchanges for individuals will likely go ahead as planned. But other observers said that by declining to enforce the rules on employers, the Obama administration might find it harder to carry out the individual mandate under which people must carry health insurance or pay a tax penalty (Radnofsky, Mathews and Weaver, 7/3).

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Delay Has Foes Focusing On Flaws
The Obama administration's surprise decision to delay penalizing large employers that fail to provide health coverage appears unlikely to unravel the president's signature healthcare law, despite claims from Republicans that the law's collapse is imminent. But the move casts a spotlight on a central dilemma facing the administration as it moves to implement the complex law: Even supporters acknowledge that some of the Affordable Care Act's provisions may not work as written. But partisan tensions in Washington have made changes all but impossible (Levey and Terhune, 7/4).

The New York Times: Postponing Health Rules Emboldens Republicans
Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee demanded documents and other information from the Treasury secretary and the secretary of health and human services about the decision announced Tuesday to put off for a year, until 2015, the law’s reporting requirements and penalties. Some Republicans said the White House was trying to help Democrats by postponing the changes until after the midterm elections, but others saw no gain for Democrats either way (Calmes and Pear, 7/3).

The New York Times: Health Law Delay Puts Exchanges In Spotlight
The Obama administration's decision, announced on Tuesday, to delay for a year a requirement that larger employers provide insurance or pay a penalty has made the operation of the state exchanges — where individuals can shop for insurance starting Oct. 1 — more critical to the success of the new health care  (Abelson and Thomas, 7/3).

The Associated Press: Analysis: Health-Care Law Loses Momentum
President Barack Obama's health care law, hailed as his most significant legislative achievement, seems to be losing much of its sweep. On Tuesday, the administration unexpectedly announced a one-year delay, until after the 2014 elections, in a central requirement of the law that medium and large companies provide coverage for their workers or face fines (Alonso-Zaldivar, 7/3).

The Fiscal Times: New Winners And Losers In The Obamacare Delay
The postponement raises uncertainties about both the economy and a 2014 election in which Democrats hope to preserve their Senate majority. While the number of businesses that would have been forced to provide insurance is relatively miniscule, growing publicity about companies considering layoffs and cutting back employee hours to avoid the mandate has caused a headache for the administration. In fact, an estimated 96 percent of all firms in the United States—or 5.8 million out of 6 million businesses – have fewer than 50 full time employees and therefore are exempt from this part of the Affordable Care Act (Francis, Pianin and Boak, 7/5).

CNN Money: For Fatburger And Others, Obamacare Delay Came Too Late
Delaying the Obamacare employer mandate has simply put off rules business had already started adjusting to. Under the Affordable Care Act, companies with 50-plus full-time employees must start offering them health insurance or face stiff penalties. ... Because a 30-hour work week counts as full-time under Obamacare, Fatburger fast-food restaurants had started cutting worker hours below that threshold, CEO Andy Wiederhorn said (Pagliery, 7/8).

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