House Passes GOP Budget that Repeals ACA
The House GOP passed a compromise budget, having originated at the Senate, with a 226-197 vote that promises to balance the budget in nine years with more than $5 trillion in spending cuts, including a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, as reported by the New York Times. The budget plan may now pass through the Senate without threat of a filibuster, because only a simple majority is needed for reconciliation. President Obama is likely to veto the measure, should it advance.
Tax Season Special Enrollment Period Ends with Minimal Enrollment
The Department of Health and Human Services announced that as of April 13 only 68,000 consumers have signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov's Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for individuals who owe a tax penalty. The proportion of consumers taking advantage of the SEP is higher in State-based Marketplaces with tax season SEPs, including California with 91,000 consumers enrolled and Washington with 16,000 consumers enrolled. The SEP ended in most states on April 30, 2015.
Average Tax Refunds Reduced by 33% for Marketplace Enrollees with Tax Credits
Almost two-thirds of enrollees receiving advance premium tax credit (APTC) in Marketplaces had to pay back an average of $729 of the tax credits they received in 2014, according to H&R Block, reducing these enrollees’ average tax refund by 33%. Approximately one in four enrollees with APTC received a refund, averaging $425, which represented an increase in their refunds of approximately 18%. A smaller percentage, almost 13%, of those with APTC had no repayment or refund due, meaning they estimated their 2014 income accurately. Finally, the average payment due for those who did not maintain coverage during all or a portion of the 2014 benefit year was approximately $178. A previous study by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated, based on tracking income changes typical of the subsidy-eligible population, that taxpayers receiving APTC were about as likely to owe some repayment (50%) as receive a refund (45%), and found that the average repayment ($794) and refund ($773) were similar.
Supreme Court Asks Lower Courts to Reconsider Contraception Case
The Supreme Court of the United States asked a Cincinnati appeals court to reconsider a case brought by Catholic ministries challenging the Affordable Care Act provision that requires employers to cover birth control, according to The Hill. The Justices asked the lower court to reconsider the case in light of the Supreme Court's decision last June to allow Hobby Lobby to opt out of the contraception mandate for religious reasons. This ruling marks the sixth time the court has sent a case back to the lower courts for reconsideration after previously upholding Obama administration policies, including last month when the Supreme Court sent back to the lower court a decision to require the University of Notre Dame to follow the contraception mandate.