Exchange customers now receiving subsidies should review tax issues

The Associated Press examines the tax credit issue. Other outlets look at issues surrounding the state insurance marketplaces in California, Maryland, Illinois, Connecticut and Minnesota.

The Associated Press: Tax Refunds May Get Hit Due To Health Law Credits
Taxes? Who wants to think about taxes around Labor Day? But if you count on your tax refund and you're one of the millions getting tax credits to help pay health insurance premiums under President Barack Obama's law, it's not too early. Here's why: If your income for 2014 is going to be higher than you estimated when you applied for health insurance, then complex connections between the health law and taxes can reduce or even eliminate your tax refund next year (Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/24). 

The Washington Post: Md. Approves Smaller Rate Hikes For CareFirst, Lowers Rates For 3 Others
Maryland officials approved final insurance rates Friday for consumers buying individual health plans next year under the federal health-care law. Regulators cut proposed premiums by more than half for CareFirst, the region's dominant insurance company, and approved lower rates for three other carriers (Sun, 8/22).

The Baltimore Sun: Insurers Gain Rate Approvals For Health Exchange
CareFirst won approval to raise rates as much as 16 percent on the three plans it offers, while the Maryland Insurance Administration agreed to reduced rates requested from the three other companies that sell policies on the exchange -; Evergreen Health Cooperative, Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealthcare's All Savers Insurance Co. (Cohn, 8/22).

The Baltimore Sun: Glimpse Of Health Exchange Audit Shows Progress
Maryland health exchange officials have been saying for months that everything is on track for a smooth launch of their new website, ... To back up the claims, the exchange provided a summary last week of an audit ... The federal authorities overseeing the states' exchanges required the audits, called independent verification and validation. ... Exchange officials released the full audits of the existing exchange website conducted by BerryDunn earlier this year to help explain the disastrous launch Oct. 1. Those audits showed that officials were warned months in advance of serious management and technical problems (Cohn, 8/23).

Los Angeles Times: Covered California Officials, Insurance Chief Clash Over Prop. 45
California's Obamacare exchange and the state insurance commissioner are on a collision course over Proposition 45, a popular ballot measure aimed at reining in health insurance rates. ... In November, voters will decide whether to give Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones veto power over rate increases for about 6 million Californians who have individual and small-business policies. Without this authority, Jones says, consumers will keep being subjected to excessive rate hikes and Obamacare won't be affordable. ... Anthem Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente and other companies have already contributed more than $37 million to defeat the measure (Terhune, 8/22).

Related, earlier coverage: Californians Favor Tougher Rules On Health Insurance Rates, Survey Says (Shen, 8/20).

Sacramento Bee: Covered California Chief Peter Lee Gets $52K Bonus
Peter V. Lee, the head of the state's health insurance exchange, was awarded a 20-percent bonus for his efforts in launching the federal program in California. The performance-based award, which pencils out to $52,528 on top of his base salary of $262,644, was disclosed at the exchange's board meeting Thursday (Cadalego, 8/22).

CT Mirror: Obamacare Q&A: Health Insurance Costs And Options For 2015
Compared to this year, premiums for health plans sold through the state's individual market are, on average, decreasing or rising slightly. But the exact change will depend on the type of plan you buy. While some customers will see big drops in price, others could face significant increases. And many won't pay "sticker price" at all, because their rates are discounted by the federal government (Levin Becker, 8/25).

Chicago Tribune: State Renews Marketing Contract For Obamacare
Illinois has renewed its contract with the public relations firm FleishmanHillard to handle communications, advertising and marketing the state's insurance exchange through April 2015. The nine-month contract, effective August 15, is valued at $25.6 million, ... Paid for by the federal government to support the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, Fleishman and several partners will once again lead a multimedia campaign to promote enrollment in the state-based insurance exchange where consumers can compare and buy health care policies, often with the help of federal subsidies (Frost, 8/22).

Minnesota Public Radio: Health Care Success Cuts Revenue To Uptown Clinic, Forcing It To Close
A clinic in Minneapolis that provides medical care to thousands of uninsured and underinsured people is closing its doors next week, in large part because more people are obtaining health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and seeking care elsewhere. When the Neighborhood Involvement Program shuts down Aug. 29, the 3,000 patients that visit its Uptown clinic will be without a medical provider. But its dental and mental health clinics, as well as its senior and youth programs, will continue operating in Uptown (Sepic, 8/22).

And on the issue of states considering Medicaid expansion -

The Associated Press: Gov. Mead Wants Medicaid Proposal For Legislature
Gov. Matt Mead says he expects to be ready to brief state lawmakers early next year about the best deal Wyoming could get from the federal government if the state agrees to expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of low-income workers. Mead said Thursday that he and state Health Department Director Tom Forslund met recently with federal officials to discuss the possibility of Wyoming agreeing to Medicaid expansion (Neary, 8/22).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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