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VIDEO: Cong Collins with Greta, Calls Obamacare A Train Wreck



Clarence Republican Chris Collins appeared with Fox News Channel's Greta Van Sustern Wednesday night to talk of Health Care Reform in light of a new GAO report that predicts a lot of unforeseen troubles when the program comes into effect.

"Obamacare truly is a train wreck.  We now have confirmation that a key provision that was touted as a way for small businesses to save money on health insurance is incomplete and behind schedule," said Collins,referring to a GAO report  (below)




NOTE: The Collins appearance was the second segment of the show, approx. 2:40 seconds into the above video

 

Still a little hazy about the health care overhaul? You have plenty of company.

About half the people surveyed earlier this spring by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation felt they didn't have enough information to understand how the law will affect their family. Among those with an annual household income of less than $30,000, some 30 percent thought the law had been repealed by Congress or the Supreme Court.

That's the low-income demographic the law is designed to help the most as it extends insurance coverage to millions of uninsured people.

With those results in mind, here are five key points everyone should know about the overhaul, heading into this fall and 2014, when major changes start to unfold.

1. THE LAW IS IN EFFECT

Congress passed President Barack Obama's health care law in March 2010, and the overhaul has since survived 37 attempts by Republicans in the House of Representatives to eliminate, defund or partly scale it back.

The law, known as the Affordable Care Act or ACA, also survived a more substantial test last year when the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality. However, the court's ruling gave states the right to decide whether to expand Medicaid, the state-and-federally funded program that covers the needy and disabled people. Medicaid plays a key role in the ACA's plan to provide insurance coverage to more Americans.

2. YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO HAVE COVERAGE

The overhaul mandates that, starting next year, most U.S. citizens and legal residents obtain coverage or pay a penalty. Some exemptions have been carved out for groups that include Indian tribe members, prisoners and individuals who belong to health care sharing ministries.

The annual penalty starts at $95 per adult, or 1 percent of family income - whichever is greater - and then rises over the next few years.

3. MAJOR MILESTONES ARE LOOMING

Next year, the ACA will take two major steps toward its goal of providing more individuals with insurance coverage.

Medicaid will be expanded in states that allow it, and many people will be able to buy coverage using income-based tax credits.

These tax credits, or subsidies, are reserved for people who can't get health insurance through an employer and who don't qualify for Medicaid, Medicare or military-based coverage.

State-based benefits exchanges will debut in October and they will enable consumers to go online to compare 2014 coverage terms and prices and then use tax credits, if they qualify, to buy a policy.

4. FINANCIAL HELP EXTENDS TO THE MIDDLE CLASS

The tax credits or subsidies will be available to help individuals and families making up to four times the federal poverty level. For 2013, that equates to an income of $94,200 for a family of four in all states except Alaska and Hawaii.

The tax credits will be doled out on a sliding scale. That means individuals with incomes closer to the poverty guideline will receive bigger credits.

These credits won't lower premiums, but they can ease the insurance bill depending on a person's income. For instance, a 30-year-old with an income of $30,000, who doesn't smoke or have kids, could receive a tax credit worth more than $900. That person might then have to pay $1,925 for insurance that would provide the minimum level of coverage required under the overhaul. That's according to a subsidy calculator designed by Kaiser and posted on the foundation's website at http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/ .

Starting next year, the ACA also will help individuals get coverage regardless of their health. Currently, if you already have a medical condition, insurers can either reject your application or charge a much higher price. Many people with heart trouble or diabetes are unable to find an insurer willing to cover them because of the risk they represent for future claims.

5. INSURANCE PRICES MAY CHANGE

Health insurers are warning that premiums, or the cost of coverage, could soar for some people due to a number of factors. Those include taxes and fees, as well as coverage requirements the law imposes.

The extent of any price hikes will depend on many variables, such as where people live, their current coverage and health and their age.

Young, healthy people who currently have low-cost coverage may see some of the biggest hikes in part because the law limits the price differences an insurer can charge a person based on age.

Insurers generally charge seniors more because they tend to generate more expensive claims.

The subsidies that individuals start receiving next year will help offset these price hikes. Most who gain coverage in the individual insurance market will have income levels low enough to qualify for some subsidy help, said Jennifer Tolbert, a health reform expert with Kaiser.

She said that will be especially true for the younger customers who may face the biggest price hikes.

About 149 million individuals have employer-sponsored health coverage in the United States, making it the largest source of coverage. Those who work for big companies may not see a lot of change, at least initially.

The law will add costs like premium taxes to the average worker's insurance bill. But the employer generally pays most of that bill, which means some employees may not notice the additional cost.

“I hear from small business owners in my district nearly every day expressing frustration over the confusion surrounding the implementation of Obamacare,” said Collins. 

“They know this legislation will impact their bottom line in some way, but they remain in the dark about the details surrounding the rules and regulations.

"  It appears the Obama administration is wholly unprepared to offer any explanation.  Instead, it continues to tout all the ‘free’ services offered under Obamacare, without acknowledging the fact that small business men and woman, and hardworking taxpayers all across the country, will be the ones actually paying for them."




Gov't report: Smooth launch unsure for health law

There's no guarantee that President Barack Obama's health care law will launch smoothly and on time, congressional investigators say in the first in-depth independent look at its progress.

But in a report to be released Wednesday, the congressional Government Accountability Office also sees positive signs as the Oct. 1 deadline approaches for new health insurance markets called exchanges to open in each state - in many cases over the objections of Republican governors.

Additionally, the report discloses that the administration had spent nearly $400 million as of March to set up the infrastructure of a sprawling system involving major federal agencies, every state, hundreds of insurance companies, and millions of citizens, among them many individuals seeking coverage for the first time.

"Whether (the administration's) contingency planning will assure the timely and smooth implementation of the exchanges by Oct. 2013 cannot yet be determined," the report concluded. A copy was provided to The Associated Press.

The administration is taking the lead in setting up the markets in 34 states, the report said - a heavy lift unforeseen when the law was passed. The computerized clearinghouse for the entire system - a federal "data hub" designed to deliver real-time eligibility rulings - has only undergone initial testing. And states have yet to complete many of their assignments.

"Much progress has been made in establishing the regulatory framework and guidance required for this undertaking, and (the administration) is currently taking steps to implement key activities of the (exchanges)," the report said. "Nevertheless, much remains to be accomplished within a relatively short period of time."

Translation: most of the specs have been written, but the all wiring hasn't been laid, and what will happen when they flip the switch nobody really knows. And remember, Oct. 1 is less than four months away.

GAO also issued a similar assessment for small-business health insurance markets scheduled to open concurrently.

The study shows "this law isn't ready for prime time, and come October millions of Americans and small businesses are going to be the ones suffering the consequences," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement. Hatch is the ranking Republican on the Senate committee that oversees health care financing.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has steadfastly maintained the new insurance markets will open on schedule in all 50 states and Washington, DC.

Middle-class people with no access to job-based coverage will be able to buy private insurance, in most cases with new tax credits to help pay premiums. Low-income people will be steered to public programs like Medicaid in states that opt to accept an expansion offered under the law. Coverage starts Jan. 1.

An estimated 7 million individuals are expected to sign up through the exchanges next year, while Medicaid rolls will grow by 9 million. Those numbers are projected to steadily increase as Americans get more familiar with the law and its benefits. Exchanges are supposed to deliver the same basic service, connecting consumers with new coverage, whether they're run by states or by the federal government.

Most people currently covered by employers are not expected to see major changes, although some companies with many low-wage workers may decide it's better for their bottom lines to drop their plans.

The GAO report did not address one of the major obstacles to the rollout of the health care law - entrenched opposition from Republicans in Congress and from many GOP state leaders.

Having failed to get the Supreme Court to strike down "Obamacare" last year, Republicans in Congress have kept trying to repeal it, managing to block administration requests for additional implementation funds. In the states - with some notable exceptions - Republican governors and legislatures have generally refused to set up state-run exchanges or expand Medicaid.

However, the report found that some states where the law has run into resistance also seem to be simultaneously trying to accommodate it. GAO said that of the 34 states in which the federal government is taking the lead in setting up the new markets, 15 are expected to carry out at least some functions of the exchanges. That could be a stepping stone to full state control later.

The report also included a breakdown of spending on the federal exchanges and the data hub, which the administration had not previously provided, despite ongoing requests by media organizations.

As of March, the administration had spent almost $394 million, mostly through payments to 55 different contractors. That figure does not include the salaries of hundreds of government officials dedicated to the massive project. That project is forever linked to Obama's legacy.

The largest single ledger item: $84 million for the federal exchange computer infrastructure, being designed and built by CGI Federal, Inc., a Virginia-based government contractor.

The contractor building the data hub, Maryland-based Quality Software Services, Inc., received $55 million.

Third on the contracting totem pole was Booz Allen Hamilton, which received nearly $38 million to provide technical assistance for enrollment and eligibility.

The report said the administration will need another $2 billion in the next fiscal year to establish and operate the federal exchanges. Of that, Congress would have to provide $1.5 billion, while user fees paid by insurers account for the remainder.

It's unclear if congressional Republicans will sign off on the funding.


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