I.R.S. Bars Employers From Dumping Workers Into Health Exchanges – By ROBERT PEARMAY 25, 2014

WASHINGTON — Many employers had thought they could shift health costs to the government by sending their employees to a health insurance exchange with a tax-free contribution of cash to help pay premiums, but the Obama administration has squelched the idea in a new ruling. Such arrangements do not satisfy the health care law, the administration said, and employers may be subject to a tax penalty of $100 a day — or $36,500 a year — for each employee who goes into the individual marketplace.

The ruling this month, by the Internal Revenue Service, blocks any wholesale move by employers to dump employees into the exchanges.

Under a central provision of the health care law, larger employers are required to offer health coverage to full-time workers, or else the employers may be subject to penalties.

Many employers — some that now offer coverage and some that do not — had concluded that it would be cheaper to provide each employee with a lump sum of money to buy insurance on an exchange, instead of providing coverage directly.

But the Obama administration raised objections, contained in an authoritative question-and-answer document released by the Internal Revenue Service, in consultation with other agencies.

The health law, known as the Affordable Care Act, builds on the current system of employer-based health insurance. The administration, like many in Congress, wants employers to continue to provide coverage to workers and their families.


POLITICO poll shows mounting danger for Dems – By ALEXANDER BURNS | 5/19/14 5:02 AM EDT

In the congressional districts and states where the 2014 elections will actually be decided, likely voters said they would prefer to vote for a Republican over a Democrat by 7 points, 41 percent to 34 percent. A quarter of voters said they were unsure of their preference.

Among these critical voters, Obama’s job approval is a perilous 40 percent, and nearly half say they favor outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Sixty percent say they believe the debate over the law is not over, compared with 39 percent who echo the president’s position and say the ACA debate has effectively concluded.

Both Obama’s job approval and the partisan ballot matchup are markedly more negative for Democrats in this poll than other national surveys — a reflection of the political reality that the midterm campaign is being fought on turf that is more challenging for Democrats than the nation as a whole.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/politico-poll-shows-mounting-danger-for-dems-106814.html#ixzz329tu4Ubk

Obamacare coverage hits 3 million mark – By JASON MILLMAN | 1/24/14 1:57 PM EST


The Obama administration announced Friday that 3 million people have signed up for health insurance through Obamacare exchanges since Oct. 1 — still behind the pace the administration hoped to set for the law’s first enrollment period but steady enough to encourage officials.

Signups in private plans through state and federal exchanges grew by about 800,000 since the end of December, when there was a late surge to sign up for coverage that started Jan. 1. Before the health care law’s deeply flawed rollout, the administration hoped to have 3.3 million in exchanges by the end of December and 7 million by the time the 2014 enrollment season closes March 31.

Officials are counting on another significant surge by the end of March.

Article continues:

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/obamacare-3-million-102575.html#ixzz2rPZL97zW

Obama Sees a Rebound in His Approval Ratings – By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and ALLISON KOPICKI Published: December 10, 2013

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s approval ratings, which hit his all-time low last month, have returned to where they were before the rollout of the health care law’s enrollment process, but Americans still lack confidence in the White House’s management of the Affordable Care Act, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The public’s opinion of the law itself has improved after repairs to the enrollment website.

According to the poll, 42 percent of Americans now approve of Mr. Obama’s overall performance, and 50 percent disapprove. That is not exactly good news for the president, but is better than his numbers in mid-November, after he admitted he had fumbled the rollout of the health care law’s website. Then, just 37 percent approved and 57 percent disapproved in a CBS News poll.

The findings suggest that for Mr. Obama, the political fallout from the website’s start-up might be over. The White House says the website, HealthCare.gov, is now functioning smoothly for most users.

But Americans do not appear to be convinced that the problems have been fixed. Just one in six Americans in the poll said the online insurance enrollment process was going very well or somewhat well.

And while more than a third perceived the website as having improved, a larger number — 44 percent — said it was neither getting better nor worse.

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A President apologizes. The buck stopped.

Apologizing, Obama Yields to Criticism of Health Law

By  Published: November 7, 2013

WASHINGTON — President Obama bowed Thursday night to mounting criticism that he had misled the American people about the health care law, apologizing to people who were forced off their health insurance plans by the Affordable Care Act despite “assurances from me.”

Evan Vucci/Associated Press

President Obama arriving at the White House on Thursday.

In an interview with NBC News, Mr. Obama said that he did not do enough to ensure that the law did not force the termination of insurance policies that people like because they do not meet the law’s new coverage requirements.

“It means a lot to them. And it’s scary to them. And I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me,” Mr. Obama told Chuck Todd of NBC in an interview in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that we hear them and that we’re going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

For years, Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that Americans who were satisfied with their health insurance plans could keep them even after his health care program took full effect at the beginning of next year. “If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan,” he said in speeches and at campaign rallies and town hall meetings.

But hundreds of thousands of people across the country began receiving letters of cancellation from their insurance companies in recent weeks, prompting accusations that Mr. Obama lied about the impact of the health care law for political reasons.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/08/us/politics/obama-apologizes-to-americans-dropped-by-insurers.html?hp&_r=0