IRS, CMS Officials Testify Before House Panel, Address ACA Concerns
On Wednesday, officials from the Internal Revenue Service and CMS testified before a House committee, addressing lawmakers' concerns related to the Affordable Care Act, the Washington Times reports (Howell , Washington Times, 9/10).
IRS Commissioner Discusses ACA Tax Implications
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health that many consumers would only have to check a box on their tax forms confirming they have health coverage.
However, those who received subsidies, sought an exemption or faced financial penalties for not having coverage will have a more complicated process to complete when filing, Koskinen said (Attias, CQ Roll Call, 9/10). Such consumers will have to use new tax forms, draft versions of which already have been released, according to Koskinen (Howell , Washington Times, 9/10).
According to Modern Healthcare, 87% of the 5.4 million U.S. residents who enrolled in coverage through the federal insurance exchange used subsidies. Subcommittee Chair Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said many of those individuals might be forced to repay money because of the "horribly poor implementation" of the ACA.
Further, lawmakers asked what IRS is doing to inform people about what they have to do if their incomes have changed. Koskinen said the agency has been relying heavily on social media -- including Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube -- to notify consumers about the steps to take when completing their tax returns.
However, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) said, "Putting something on a website may not be enough," adding, "We need to figure out a way to better educate folks" (Dickson, Modern Healthcare, 9/10).
IRS Commissioner Seeks More Funding
Koskinen also told lawmakers that IRS needs more funding to better administer tax-related measures of the ACA, the Washington Times reports. Koskinen said Congress could help IRS fulfill new duties by providing the agency with $430 million through the budget process, including $300 million to build systems that would help IRS address its ACA responsibilities
However, he added that IRS will handle its responsibilities even if Congress does not allocate the agency any more funding (Howell , Washington Times, 9/10).
Still, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said, "We can’t continue to cut the IRS budget, reduce staffing, make the code more complex, and then beat up on the IRS and still expect that we're going to keep the highest compliance rate in the world."
CMS Addresses Insurance Exchange Issues
CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Andy Slavitt on Wednesday addressed the committee's concerns about the success of the ACA's exchanges, CQ Roll Call reports.
When asked, Slavitt said he was unsure how many people who purchased coverage during the initial open enrollment period already had coverage.
He also addressed concerns regarding the federal exchange's new auto-enrollment feature, noting that the system is expected to be tested in October before enrollment begins Nov. 15 (CQ Roll Call, 9/10).
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) asked why insurers had been informed of a recent HealthCare.gov security breach by the press. Slavitt countered that notion, noting that he personally notified a representative from an insurance association (Ferris, The Hill, 9/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.