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Obamacare Rules Leave Some Domestic Violence Victims Without Escape

Law includes a powerful disincentive for victims trying to leave abusive marriages; it's been nearly two years since Treasury said it would fix the problem.

by
Bridget Johnson

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February 3, 2014 - 6:44 pm
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WASHINGTON — When Obamacare was passed in 2010, advocacy groups hailed the law for its provisions aimed at domestic violence prevention, including the requirement that all new health plans must cover domestic violence screening and counseling.

Before the sweeping healthcare law passed, there were efforts in Congress to prohibit insurance companies from being able to block coverage for an individual who had been physically beaten by a spouse. It was allowed as a pre-existing condition in a handful of states, and a handful of insurance companies in the 1990s listed being the victim of domestic violence as a disqualifying condition for life and health insurance policies.

“If you’re a victim of domestic violence, even that’s seen as a pre-existing condition,” Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) said in September, hailing Obamacare’s implementation. “Women had to pay 50 percent more for health care because of gender rating. All of that is over.”

However, Obamacare includes a powerful disincentive for victims trying to leave abusive marriages.

Under current enrollment policies, victims who have left abusive relationships, even if they file taxes separately from a spouse, still are judged on total household income of the marriage. So if a victim flees and is trying to obtain health insurance coverage, she or he may actually be scraping by on a substantially smaller income yet not qualify for subsidies — and be mandated to buy a costly policy.

And a high healthcare premium would exacerbate what is already a trepidatious financial situation, with many victims coming from a marriage where the abusive spouse controlled the money and many of the abused eventually returning to the marriage because of an inability to financially support oneself and any children.

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) wrote Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner on Friday after it was brought to his attention “that some of these victims are facing unique barriers to qualifying for lower monthly premium payments as they search for and purchase health care coverage.”

“I urge you to act together to swiftly implement policies allowing victims of domestic abuse to access the level of tax credits they deserve even if there are obstacles to their ability to file joint tax returns.”

The senator noted how it’s “not uncommon” for domestic violence victims to file taxes separately “to protect themselves from the ongoing threat of violent abuse.”

“However, as they search for health coverage, if they are still required to report usually higher joint income then they are likely to qualify for much lower tax credits, if they qualify at all,” Begich continued.

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Top Rated Comments   
The flip side of that is because there are those false claims, real victims of abuse will have to bear a burden of proof that too often further victimizes them, and leads to them being denied the help they need.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Meh, all she needs to do is make an unsubstantiated claim of domestic violence, or even just a 'fear' of her ex, and a gateway of goodies open up. The court will, through an EPO, compel her ex to pay support, and maintain any health care policies in place, even if unaffordable. The court will also compel him to get one, if there isn't one already, regardless of cost.

Plenty of cash and prizes for women in the divorce game, just step up and announce your entry into the victim olympics.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Domestic violence intervention and treatment should have ZERO political/socio-ideology ties. Victimizing the victims further through a governmental obstacle course will only lead to tragedy. Isn't the whole point to save souls rather than sacrifice them to the system?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (25)
All Comments   (25)
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my friend's ex-wife makes $85 /hr on the computer . She has been without a job for eight months but last month her pay was $16032 just working on the computer for a few hours. have a peek here.......http://www.work71.com
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
The situation is tragic, but it seems it's ultimately the price and the existance of subsidies that are the issue, not the insurance itself. For though my heart goes out to victims of abuse, legally someone who is still married should qualify under married rules including for tax and insurance purposes. Otherwise the system would be even easier to game than it already is.

I'm unclear what the proposed solution is. And while I agree that Obamacare is a total mess I don't want to get drawn into a very specific subset of people simply because they are sympathetic when I'm not even clear what Obamacare did to make their situation so much worse.

41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
simple... the alledgedly abused one can file for a legal separation, which has the effects on taxes, insurance, income, credit, borrowing, separate accounts, etc, as a divorced couple, yet the marriage is not yet legally dissolved. Thus, if they work things out and get back together, reconciling, the legal separation can be easily terminated and things move on as before. But the finances, credit reporting, tax filing, tax status, incomes, are all legally separate. Punishing one spouse for the actions (real, threatened, possible, imagined) of the other is just wrong. Not surprising, though to be found within the text of Oh Bummer Tax which no one could have, or did, read before it was railroaded through. Ah yes, life under a dictatorship. Ain't it grand?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Still reading, still finding all the "goodies" in it.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is there any facet of society that this law does not negatively affect?
Capitol Hill should be ringed with stocks containing the worthless Congresskritters that wrote/voted for this heaping pile of dung.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Stocks are too benign. I would go with gallows. Let's put the risk back into politics and see how many lawyers suddenly decide politics is not for them any more.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Meh, all she needs to do is make an unsubstantiated claim of domestic violence, or even just a 'fear' of her ex, and a gateway of goodies open up. The court will, through an EPO, compel her ex to pay support, and maintain any health care policies in place, even if unaffordable. The court will also compel him to get one, if there isn't one already, regardless of cost.

Plenty of cash and prizes for women in the divorce game, just step up and announce your entry into the victim olympics.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is just "typical" of a Government run program! Nothing works as intended, & whatever the cost, it is "hundreds" of times more expensive than originally intended: [ie} post office, medicare, social security, etc. If only the gbmnt, would "get it right", & not "rape, pillage, & loot" the coffers, ala: crooked politicians......using our tax $'s for themselves, & their agenda's, instead of the intended use of monies!
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
@Gretz...or she can have enough evidence of the crime to obtain a conviction by a jury in Criminal Court, yet still have the Judge in Family Court order HER to pay the convicted felon spousal support and legal fees simply because she was the one who worked (and no, he did not put me through school). No goodies here, just further victimization. The courts are so messed up. What I've observed is that there is no recognition of right and wrong in Family Court, and the kids are the ones who lose in the long run.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Equal victimization by the courts? Thank you for pointing this out.

That rates up there with the rape victim (for example, a man who was a minor at the time) being forced to pay child support. What if the recipient was required to provide an expense account showing that the money went to the children?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
We're (including EllaHalligan) in agreement on this point: Family court has a disturbing trend to reward the bad actor and the person who refuses to work, by enshrining that status. It's amazing the amount of BS that family court enshrines.

It typically works out that the one getting screwed is the man, but I know of at least one other woman who has found herself on the 'male' side of family law, too.

My comment was intended to make the point that for too many women, and too many unscrupulous divorce attorneys, that the woman=uber-victim meme has rewarded women for lying about abuse, and to make the point that family court, even pre-obozocare, tended to saddle the working and non-custodial litigant (usually male) with the obligation to provide insurance, regardless of cost, and in addition to any spousal or child support obligation. Further, modification to account for changes in income or the cost and availability of a policy, or to make sure that the combined cost does not become overly burdensome.

There were times during my divorce and subsequently, that I had to pay the mortgage on my own house that I could not live in, pay all of the bills for it, pay for vehicles that I could not drive, pay for attorneys who were actively working against me, all because my widdle ex spouse could cry on cue and didn't have a job, and couldn't be expected to get one, even though in actuality she was a violent alcoholic that terrorized her entire extended family. The result is that I got tossed out on my ear, with $20 a month to feed and house myself.

On top of that, I had to prove myself to be a competent parent before being allowed contact and later possession of my children. Whereas an alcoholic with documented mental health issues and no means of supporting herself was considered OK in comparison, until I was able to, figuratively, of course, shove a guardian ad litem's nose in a foot tall stack of police reports, another foot tall stack of CPS reports, and compel them to admit there was a problem beyond some perception of typical divorce animosity.

Family court usually requires only the expression of 'fear', and no actual proof. I'm equally experienced in having it ignore multiple sets of actionable proof of abuse, violence, substance abuse, police reports, witnesses, etc., and I know full well that's frustrating as well to stand there with proof and have the court deliberately turn a blind eye to it.

I'm the custodial parent, and I'm obligated to keep the insurance on the kids. My ex is obligated to pay for it, along with a laughably small child support obligation. Our dickless AG refuses to prosecute her lack of payment, for fear of the political fallout of holding a woman accountable for her choices. My ex has refused to pay any amount of her obligation for several years. I've dogged the AG's office, until they've told me, in no uncertain terms, in front of my attorney, that they will NOT pursue a remedy or sanctions.

The AG's office collects money by claiming it's "enforcing" your order by compelling your employer to pay through their office, thereby obtaining federal matching funds through no actual effort on their part, and by scaring the crap out of responsible wage-earners they can actually collect on. Sure, there's a token dead-beat-mom or two in there, but it's primarily men, and the AG's follow through on enforcing visitation orders is pathetic, even with funds from the federal government.

It's a system of perverse incentives, and adding more 'goodies' to be had by claiming abuse will only invite more corruption by petty bureaucrats and officials who's jobs are empowered to make arbitrary decisions.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Really? Because my ex is over $200,000 behind in child support. I haven't seen a penny... but our kids who were little when were divorced are now almost all grown (one is 21, out of school, working, one will be 18 this year and heads off to college, the other two are teens.)

Oh, and despite a very real fear (I once woke up and found him sitting next to my bed staring at me despite having changed the locks and having a restraining order)... I was told by the courts that a restraining order is "just a piece of paper" and that it was up to ME to enforce it.

Frankly, I'd rather have my kids than his money, even though I put him through school.

Yeah, most guys aren't dead beat dads.... but they do exist. And just because you obviously got screwed over by some court at some point doesn't mean that every woman who got custody or an order of protection is scamming the system or playing a game.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
The question is - is a person innocent until proven guilty, or not?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Enough of them are playing the "I'm a victim" card to prevail in family court. There's no downside to claiming victim status for women, and plenty of "emergency protective orders" that rely on the court's perception of men as scumbags, women as helpless, and the "we must err on the side of caution, therefore dad has to leave the house with a no-contact order, effective immediately for the next 6 months" as a result.

I've had my ex show up at my house in violation of a restraining order, on camera (necessary because the police are likely to arrest me when she violates a PO), with the police arriving. No arrest and no sanction by the court. The police refuse to prosecute, and it will cost me money for a worthless judgement. She did it the day before a court hearing, and the court couldn't care less when presented with video proof of it.

I don't mean to make the point that some men aren't jerks, or that every woman who claims abuse isn't telling the truth. I'm making the point that so many women have gotten away with it, for so long, without proof or anything resembling the standards of evidence or the rule of law, that we should treat claims of it with a jaundiced eye.

We should demand better standards from family court, rather than who has the better story, or who has the more popular lawyer.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I haven't seen a penny... but our kids who were little when were divorced are now almost all grown(...)"--EllaHalligan

I see your kids didn't really need that penny.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
And let's not forget that Obamacare itself is forcing these folks to use their small nest eggs to pay for policies that physically and financially tie them to a geographic area. One of the most successful ways to break a cycle of abuse is to put distance between the individuals. Relocating is also a good means to have access to better paying jobs or moving near family to have support for childcare, etc. Most of these policies are not portable across state lines. And they leave a huge paper trail for those who don't want to be located by an abusive ex.

(Not a well put together paragraph, but I think the gist is there.)
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
The flip side of that is because there are those false claims, real victims of abuse will have to bear a burden of proof that too often further victimizes them, and leads to them being denied the help they need.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Agreed. But the industry needs victims to champion, and when it can't find enough, it's willing to manufacture them as needed.

See also: Wendy Davis, Sandra Fluke...
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
A glitch a day keeps medical care away.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dear Bam,

Please issue an Executive Order or waiver to fix the unintended consequence of your good intention.

Thanks,

JGO
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
If in the text of the law, Obamacare defines how income is calculated to determine subsides, then wouldn't the power to protect men/women in abusive relationships from the disaster that is Obamacare lay within the hands of the legislature (maybe they should have read it to find out what was in it)? Without breaking the law and violating the Constitution, what power would Treasury have to fix the problem? Though I guess at this point breaking the law doesn't earn you so much as a slap on the wrist these days in Washington. Assuming you're connected that is.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama the misanthrope has through his arrogance, heartlessness and stupidity, opened a formally blessed land and millions of innocent lives to the horror and devastation of ObamaCare…
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Domestic violence intervention and treatment should have ZERO political/socio-ideology ties. Victimizing the victims further through a governmental obstacle course will only lead to tragedy. Isn't the whole point to save souls rather than sacrifice them to the system?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
You might want to tell that to the domestic violence intervention industry. Their near universal refusal to recognize that domestic violence is not just a male on female problem puts massive cultural barriers up to dealing with it. Also, that domestic abuse is typically a family problem that requires counseling of both partners. About 80% of domestic abuse is reciprocal, and represents a two-way pattern between partners.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Remember what the Democrat idiot Speaker of the House said? "you have pass the bill to know what is in the bill" Oh the shame of not one Republican voted for ocare. They tried to tell all of the idols that wanted this train wreck. Now we all will have suffer the destruction of the best healthcare system that was in the world. Oh but I guess all the Medicaid and subsidized people (who take more of the tax payers money) like it, of course the want have any care when the whole medical system collapses.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
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