KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Marketplace Reportedly Using Wrong Guidelines For Subsidies

An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer notes the problem. In other implementation news, recent statements by a Treasury official are being touted by Republicans as evidence the Obama administration has overstepped its statutory authority.

Philadelphia Inquirer: A Glitch In Obamacare Marketplace No One Noticed
Nearly six months after the disastrous launch of Healthcare.gov, with the website running smoothly and more than five million people signed up as open enrollment heads to a close, a new glitch has come to light: Incorrect poverty-level guidelines are automatically telling what could be tens of thousands of eligible people they do not qualify for subsidized insurance. The error in the federal marketplace primarily affects households with incomes just above the poverty line in states like Pennsylvania that have not expanded Medicaid. The mistake raises the price of their insurance by thousands of dollars, making insurance so unaffordable many may just give up and go without (Sapatkin, 3/21).

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Challenge Administration's Authority
Republicans are pointing to statements by a top Treasury Department official as evidence that the Obama administration overstepped its authority in delaying the health-care law's requirement that employers offer coverage or pay a penalty. Mark Mazur, assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy, said in a January interview with staff from the GOP-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he wasn't aware of any examination of the legal basis for the administration's authority to delay the employer mandate (Radnofsky, 3/20).

In other news coverage of implementation issues -

The Associated Press: Health Care Law Has Uneven Impact On Companies
Sarah Curtis-Fawley will have to offer insurance to her workers at Pacific Pie Co. because of the health care overhaul, and the estimated $100,000 cost means she may have to raise prices or postpone opening a third restaurant. ... The Affordable Care Act, which aims to provide coverage for millions, is playing to decidedly mixed reviews in corporate America (Murphy, 3/20).

Modern Healthcare: Obamacare Insurance Mandate Could Be Toothless In 2014
The Obama administration has made the individual mandate its line in the sand for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Despite delaying or tweaking numerous provisions—most notably the requirement that businesses with more than 50 employees provide coverage. ... The financial penalty isn't particularly onerous in the first year. ... But the individual mandate is likely to prove a paper tiger in 2014 for two other reasons: the availability of hardship exemptions and lax enforcement (Demko, 3/20).

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