by Katherine Restrepo
Director of Health Care Policy, John Locke Foundation
…Until the individual health insurance exchanges, a key provision that largely determines the success or failure of Obamacare, open for enrollment.
Today’s News and Observer reports that the three insurers who have signed up for North Carolina’s individual market exchange await federal approval by the Department of Health and Human Services for the 67 proposed health plans. Rates will not be disclosed until October 1.
The article writes that roughly 1 million North Carolinians may qualify to receive subsidies that will help offset monthly premiums — not so fast. The plain text of the Affordable Care Act limits such premiums, also known as tax-credits, to only states that have complied to create their own exchanges. 34 states, including North Carolina, have opted for the federal government to create their own exchanges. Obamacare does NOT grant exchanges to be administered in federally facilitated exchanges.
Currently, oral arguments regarding this issue are pending under the federal district court. And the issue continues to gain momentum. This past Wednesday, the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on whether the IRS has exceeded their taxation powers by amending the federal health law after it passed, citing in the Federal Registrar that subsidies be reallocated to both state and federal exchanges.
Darrell Issa, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, threatened Treasury witness Emily McMahon to subpoena the Treasury for not providing clear documentation on how they determined that subsidies be distributed beyond the law’s intent.
“If I do not get all discovery and full disclosure, not only will I use a subpoena, but I will have to do a lot more,” Issa told McMahon. “The American people are about to spend more money on this program than perhaps any other program in its infancy. All we’re asking for is that you obey the law as written.”