Analyzing The Health Law’s Tax Credits And The CLASS Act’s Future
This round-up of health law implementation news also includes a report that the comment period for state health exchanges has been extended and news that Catholic organizations have stepped-up their opposition to the measure's requirement that contraceptive services be covered.
CNN Money: Health Care Tax Credits: Many Left Wanting
The health reform passed last year included tax credits to help ease the burden of surging health care costs for small businesses. But many small firms are ineligible. Four million small businesses would qualify for the credit if they provide health insurance to their employees, estimates the White House Council of Economic Advisors. Of those, only 30 percent — or about 1.2 million businesses — would be eligible for the full tax credit, according to research from the Families USA and the Small Business Majority. Only the smallest companies will qualify for the maximum amount. The tax credit refunds small businesses for a portion of the money they spend on health care premiums. However, the size of the business and the average salary can disqualify a business. Therefore, a lot of small businesses that are struggling with the growing expense of providing their employees with health insurance don't qualify (Clifford, 9/28).
Politico Pro: HHS: Expect CLASS Decisions Mid-October
Amid growing speculation that Congress may repeal the CLASS Act, Assistant Secretary of Aging Kathy Greenlee said HHS will make recommendations after reviewing various legal, policy and actuarial reports. "We are looking at the CLASS program from every angle. We are doing our due diligence," she wrote on the HHS blog. Actuarial experts have been working on various scenarios to structure the program to make it fiscally sound. Many on the Hill, however, regard the voluntary long-term care program as an unworkable fiscal time bomb. It's been a rough month for the CLASS Act. A congressional Republican report slammed the program and said "officials at HHS may have ignored" warnings the program was financially unsustainable. CLASS actuary Bob Yee sent an email to colleagues, that spread like wildfire around health policy circles, that the CLASS office was closing. Finally, the Senate Appropriations Committee cut funds for the planning and implementation of the program in a recently passed spending bill that funds HHS (Nocera and Millman, 9/28).
Modern Healthcare: CMS Extends Comment Period on Exchanges
The CMS has extended the public-comment period deadline for proposed rules on state insurance exchanges to Oct. 31, a month later than the original deadline of today. The agency issued proposed rules on the exchanges in July and then followed with another set in mid-August. This recent announcement means that public comments for both sets of rules are now due in late October (Zigmond, 9/28).
The Wall Street Journal: Catholics Fight Health Rules
Catholic organizations have ramped up opposition to new federal health care requirements to cover contraceptive services, saying the rules may prompt them to drop insurance or shut down. Beginning next August, employers have to provide coverage for contraception and other preventive services for women such as screening for gestational diabetes and domestic-violence counseling under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, part of the federal health care law passed in 2010 (Maher, 9/29).
The Associated Press/(Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) Pioneer Press: ND President Protests Birth Control Inclusion
President Barack Obama's health care overhaul should be changed so that religious schools such as the University of Notre Dame aren't required to go against their beliefs and provide birth control to students and employees, the school president says. The Rev. John Jenkins wrote a letter Wednesday to Kathleen Sebelius asking the Obama administration to broaden the definition of religious employer currently under consideration to ensure the school can continue its provide health care without going against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church (Coyne, 9/28).