White House Touts Health Tax Credits, Some Consumers Question Costs
Congress Daily: "More than 4 million postcards were mailed Monday to small-business owners, touting a tax credit in the new healthcare law that many of them are eligible to receive. The mass mailing is the first step in an aggressive sales and information campaign planned by the White House in an effort to blunt criticism of the law."
"Behind the mailing shows concern that pummeling from critics has taken a toll and branded the law as a big-spending, tax-raising measure. ..." A White House aide told Congress Daily that the government wants keep the public informed of what the law means for them, "in this case, the IRS wants to make sure that small-business owners know that the tax credit is retroactive to Jan. 1st of this year," said the aide (Condon, 4/20).
The Associated Press: "Employers with fewer than 25 employees and less than $50,000 in average wages may be eligible" (4/19).
The New York Times: While under the new health law, the uninsured will be eligible for subsidies or other help to get covered, experts are unsure of whether they will choose to buy insurance or opt out and pay a penalty. "It's hard to predict whether the carrots and sticks of subsidies and penalties will suffice to bring people into the system, when there are so many are unemployed or underemployed people, many earning less in today's economy than before and worried about job security and prospects." The Times profiles a 46-year-old earning $25,000 a year who says even with subsidies that cover more than half his cost, he's not sure if he'll buy insurance (Rabin, 4/19).
The Kansas City Star reports on the CLASS Act, the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act,"one of the earliest programs scheduled to go into effect - on Jan. 1, 2011. CLASS is designed to give workers a consumer-financed national insurance pool to help pay for long-term care, either in their homes or in care centers, when they're disabled enough by age, disease or injury to need it." The program is dependent, however, on high participation as it is a pay-in system that must maintain financial solvency. "To eventually receive CLASS benefits, people who choose to pay premiums have to be working - not idled by disabilities - and they have to buy into the system for at least five years Analysts worry that it will be hard to get 20- and 30-something employees to worry much about long-term care. ... If employers choose to offer the benefit, the law requires that all full-time workers be automatically enrolled unless they choose to opt out" (Stafford, 4/18).
Related, earlier KHN story: New Long-Term Care Insurance Will Provide Flexible Cash Benefits (Meyer, 4/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.