Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 19, 2014

Health Care’s Biggest Test Still to Come

“While failures in launching the federal insurance Web site and online exchanges have thrust the Department of Health and Human Services to the center of public attention,” the Washington Post notes that “the IRS also has a huge role in carrying out the law, including helping to distribute trillions of dollars in insurance subsidies and penalizing people who do not comply.”

“None is more crucial than enforcing the requirement that all citizens secure health insurance or pay a penalty. But those efforts have been hampered by a one-year delay in applying new insurance regulations to large employers. Those employers had been expected to provide insurance coverage information that the IRS would use to help identify who has insurance and who does not.”

“The lawmakers who drafted the health-care law intentionally barred the IRS from using its customary tools for collecting penalties — liens, foreclosures and criminal prosecution. The only means of collecting the fine is to essentially garnish tax refunds for people who overpaid their taxes.”

The good news: “IRS officials say that they are on track to meet the law’s requirements and that their computer systems are performing as hoped.”

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