Administration makes another ObamaCare change, relaxes standards for subsidies

Jul 08, 2013 8:27 AM EDT
What this means for Colorado: Employees who may not be satisfied with their health care providers, such as Kaiser, will now have access to the free-market exchanges.

The Obama administration reportedly is relaxing requirements on those seeking ObamaCare subsidies, making it easier to apply just days after making another major change to the law’s implementation.

Reuters first reported that the Department of Health and Human Services was tweaking the rules which require those seeking federal aid for insurance coverage to prove they actually need the help.

Under the law, those seeking subsidies are supposed to have incomes no higher than 400 percent of the federal poverty line. Further, they can’t have access to affordable insurance through their jobs.

The administration looked to the newly created “exchanges” — a blend of federal- and-state run insurance marketplaces — to verify those facts. Originally, the administration wanted to launch random checks to verify whether applicants got insurance through their jobs, and to individually verify everyone’s income level.

But Reuters reports that the new rules released on Friday will give 16 states — as well as the District of Columbia — a pass for now on the employer-insurance verification. For those states, which are launching their own exchanges, the federal government will give them until 2015 to start random checks. The exchanges themselves launch at the beginning of 2014.

The new rules also state that exchanges can only conduct random checks for income levels in 2014. For most, according to the rule, those running the exchanges can simply accept “an attestation of projected annual household income without further verification.”

The change comes after the administration last week announced it was delaying until 2015 a requirement that businesses employing 50 or more workers provide access to insurance.

Taken together, the two sets of changes indicate that bureaucrats and businesses alike need more time to prepare for the launch of the law.