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Hawaii among troubled states getting health law fix

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:26 a.m. HST, Feb 28, 2014

<br />Type caption here<br />

WASHINGTON >> States that have experienced technical problems running their own health care enrollment websites are getting some help from the Obama administration.

The administration quietly issued a health law fix Thursday to help those states. Several Democratic-led states, including Oregon, Maryland, Massachusetts and Hawaii, are still trying to solve website problems that have eclipsed those experienced earlier by the federal HealthCare.gov site, now largely repaired.

Although the new policy fix is available to any state, Republican governors basically defaulted to federal control of online sign-ups in their states. Those who stand to benefit the most are Democratic governors who plunged ahead and ran into problems. Some are facing sharp criticism at home, from both sides of the political aisle.

"Today's news means that many more Oregonians will be able to access better coverage at a more affordable cost," said Oregon Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, whose state is near the bottom on enrollments.

Kitzhaber announced the change after the federal Health and Human Services Department posted it on one of its websites without further elaboration.

HHS said state residents who were unable to sign up because of technical problems may still get federal tax credits if they bought private insurance outside of the new online insurance exchanges.

The federal policy change is significant because until now the administration has stressed that the only place to get taxpayer-subsidized insurance under President Barack Obama's health law is through the new online markets, called exchanges. Previously, people who bought outside the marketplace were not eligible for subsidies, although they benefit from consumer protections in the law.

The tax credits that subsidize coverage under the law can greatly reduce the cost of a policy. This year virtually all Americans are required to have coverage or risk fines.

The administration's Republican critics are certain to question the move. Along with a delay in a key mandate that medium to large companies provide coverage or face fines, it's another example of the administration trying to find flexibility to smooth out rough patches in the law's implementation.

"I applaud the federal government for its efforts to make this financial assistance available for more Oregonians," Kitzhaber said in a statement. Financial help is available on a sliding scale based on income for low-income and middle-class households.

The policy change was couched in technical jargon, and it may not be easy for states and insurers to carry it out. For instance, consumers must have made an effort to enroll in the exchange, and the plan they purchased outside the government market must meet certain requirements of the law.

On the plus side, those who qualify can get financial assistance retroactively.

In a statement, the Obama administration said: "We recognize that some states have experienced difficulties in processing automated eligibility determinations and enrollments, and (are) providing options to marketplaces to ensure eligible consumers have access to financial assistance and issuers are paid."


Associated Press writer Jonathan J. Cooper in Salem, Ore., contributed to this report.

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fstop wrote:
"The administration's Republican critics are certain to question the move. Along with a delay in a key mandate that medium to large companies provide coverage or face fines, it's another example of the administration trying to find flexibility to smooth out rough patches in the law's implementation."

How about less biased reporting by the AP? I would say it's another example of the administration trying to avoid a backlash against democrats in the upcoming elections by delaying the mandates that will negatively impact the voters after the election.

on February 28,2014 | 04:47AM
palani wrote:
So true, fstop. The mainstream media has been woefully remiss in ignoring the administration's blatantly selective (un)enforcement of not only the abominable Obamacare fiasco, but whatever other laws it perceives as "discretionary".
on February 28,2014 | 05:23AM
soundofreason wrote:
You can take a piece of dog excrement and shape it into the goddess Venus but at the end of the day, it's still dog excrement.
on February 28,2014 | 05:42AM
Winston wrote:
While you're sculpting, how about a Winged victory, my favorite, or maybe The Thinker would be more ironic given the level of mental activity that went into "crafting" Obamacare.
on February 28,2014 | 06:45AM
soundofreason wrote:
on February 28,2014 | 08:49PM
Winston wrote:
So, Mr. Obama is going to help Oregon sort out their Obamacare problem? An Oregon TV station reports the following: "But was it criminally bad? Former Republican state Rep. Patrick Sheehan told the KATU Investigators he went to the FBI in December 2012 with allegations that Cover Oregon project managers initiated the design of dummy web pages to convince the federal government the project was further along than it actually was. If Sheehan’s allegations are true, those managers could face time in jail for fraud." The evidence that the allegations are true are overwhelming.

It sounds like the "fix" Mr. Obama is proposing is going to include immunity from criminal prosecution, yet another milestone along the path of the criminal enterprise known as the Obama administration. Interestingly, this matter must have just been too minor for the AP to include in this story.

on February 28,2014 | 06:56AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Affordable care is not so affordable after all.
on February 28,2014 | 06:56AM
Ronin006 wrote:
You are right, but you know what? Most people in Hawaii, Democrats of course, are too naïve, ignorant or uninformed to know it and instead blindly believe everything President Obama and Democrat politicians say.
on February 28,2014 | 07:21AM
Winston wrote:
The AP story conveniently leaves out the high probability of fraud taking place in the Oregon program.
on February 28,2014 | 07:32AM
ellinaskyrt wrote:
Fraud by whom? Most healthcare fraud is by healthcare providers, insurance companies, and equipment suppliers: http://www.stopmedicarefraud.gov/aboutfraud/index.html
on February 28,2014 | 11:17AM
Winston wrote:
Supposedly, according to the news story, the manager of the manager of the Oregon exchange/web site project misled the federal funders of the program about how much progress was being made as a means of keeping the funding flowing.
on February 28,2014 | 04:19PM
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