Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Budget Cuts Hit Two Health Reform Provisions

The 2011 continuing budget resolution, agreed to in broad terms by Congress this past weekend, would end two programs funded by the Affordable Care Act, according to a summary of H.R. 34, the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution released by Rep. Hal Rogers (Ky.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Congress is expected to vote on the specific budget reductions this week.

A reported $2.2 billion cut would be made in the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program, under which grants and loans may be made to assist in the creation (or expansion) of qualified nonprofit health insurance issuers under ACA Sec. 1322. These nonprofits are designed to offer qualified health plans in the individual and small group markets (ACA Sec. 1322(a)). The nonprofits would compete with for-profit insurers for business in the individual and small group markets. This $2.2 billion cut appears to support instead those who want to reduce government "interference" in private, for-profit business.

The resolution also would eliminate the free choice voucher program (ACA Sec. 10108), under which employees who are exempt from the individual mandate but who do not qualify for premium subsidies are eligible for a voucher equal to the amount the employer would have spent on individual or family coverage. An employer could deduct for the amount of any free choice voucher provided, which is treated as an amount paid for compensation for personal services actually rendered.

Evidence of ACA opponents methodically carving away at the law? Will any leader stop the destruction?


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