The administration has quietly put off another key provision of Obamacare until 2015.
The Affordable Care Act limits out-of-pocket costs to consumers, including deductibles and copayments, to $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family. The White House put off implementation of that consumer protection for a year, potentially allowing insurers to set higher limits, or in some cases no limits at all. Federal officials said that many insurers and employers needed more time to comply for technical reasons.
But rather than making an announcement, the one-year grace period was posted on the Labor Department’s website in February, “obscured in a maze of legal and bureaucratic language that went largely unnoticed” until now, writes The New York Times’ Robert Pear, who recently confirmed the delay with the department. Last month, the White House announced a one-year delay in the requirement that larger employers offer health coverage to full-time employees. - Read more at The New York Times
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES TO BLOCK AIRLINE MERGER The Justice Department filed suite Tuesday seeking to block the $11 billion merger of American Airlines and US Airways. Antitrust officials warned that the proposed deal would reduce competition in the industry and result in higher fares for consumers. “The suit, unexpected by analysts and industry executives, marks a sharp break with the department’s past policy, which allowed six unprofitable airlines to merge over the past five years in an effort to cut costs and end losses,” write Bloomberg’s Sara Forden, David McLaughlin and Mary Schlangenstein. - Read more at Bloomberg
COULD ‘OPRAHCARE’ SAVE OBAMA’S HEALTHCARE LAW? Healthcare advocates say the president should enlist the help of billionaire media mogul Oprah Winfrey to drum up support for Obamacare, as the White House begins implementing key provisions this fall. The administration has already been aggressively recruiting its Hollywood allies to help popularize the law —especially among younger Americans – before the new insurance exchanges are launched on October 1. So far though, Oprah has given no indication that she’ll be assisting in the effort. - Read more at The Hill
JACKPOT! FURLOUGHED DOD WORKER WINS THE LOTTERY Last week was a good week for Melissa Weinmann, a Defense Department civilian employee based in Pensacola, Fla.
First, she learned that the Pentagon had reduced the number of days it would be furloughing its civilian workers from 11 to six. Then she really hit the jackpot and won $1 million in a Powerball lottery. While she had all five numbers correct, she didn’t pick the the Powerball number itself. If she had, she would have been able to share in a $448 million prize with two other winners. Instead, her takeaway was was about $750,000 after taxes, certainly more than enough to make up for her furloughs. - Read more at The Navy Times
CONGRESS LOOKS AT BITCOIN The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee has its eye on Bitcoin, the four-year-old digital currency. Currently, Bitcoin constitutes a $1.2 billion marketplace. On Sunday the committee sent letters to several federal agencies asking how they plan to regulate the new market in the future. - Read more at Politico