KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Rule Raises More Questions About The Individual Mandate’s Reach

News outlets report that a hardship exemption was added that could potentially make it much easier for people to get around the requirement that they have health insurance.

Bloomberg: Many May Avoid Obamacare Penalty As Deadline Looms
Obamacare’s requirement that all Americans carry insurance or face penalties, part of the effort to gain universal coverage, may not be much of a rule at all. Millions of people may be exempt from the requirement known as the individual mandate under rules issued by the Obama administration (Wayne, 3/14).

Fox News: Administration Adds Major Exemption For ObamaCare Individual Mandate
In what might be the death knell for ObamaCare's most controversial component -- the individual mandate to buy insurance -- the administration has added a mega-exemption that critics say would allow virtually anybody to skirt the rule. "This is a huge public policy decision that could affect millions of Americans," House Speaker John Boehner said, adding that the latest change, made ahead of the March 31 enrollment deadline, applies to "essentially everyone."  "The door's wide open," economist Doug Holtz-Eakin, who leads the conservative-leaning American Action Forum, told Fox News. "[The] mandate which they said was absolutely crucial to ObamaCare is falling apart day by day” (3/13).

Politico Pro: Boehner, Sebelius Spar Over Obamacare Mandate Exemptions
House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that the Obama administration is quietly trying to give Americans a way out of Obamacare’s unpopular individual mandate. “There’s a real question whether the White House has abandoned the individual mandate — the heart of Obamacare itself,” Boehner said Thursday. “The White House quietly added a new hardship exemption for everyone, and it seems like they’re hoping no one will notice.” The administration did quietly extend one controversial exemption for two more years until October 2016 — but it’s not for everyone, federal officials said. In fact, they predicted the pool of eligible people should shrink over time (Norman, 3/13).

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