Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the federal government has awarded nearly $32 million in grants to states for identifying and enrolling children in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Sebelius added that this outreach would provide “great guidance” for HHS in signing up adults for coverage under Obamacare.
“We knew that expanding access to coverage wasn’t enough,” she said when announcing the grants, which are part of the Affordable Care Act, on a Tuesday conference call.
“About four out of five of those uninsured children were already eligible for coverage through Medicaid or CHIP and we had to take more steps to find them and get them enrolled.”
Sebelius said the partnerships on the initiative would take place in 22 states.
Her announcement came on the same day the Obama administration decided to delay the healthcare law’s employer mandate until 2015. The law requires businesses with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance for their workers or pay a fine.
“We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively. We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so,” wrote Mark J. Mazur, assistant secretary for tax policy, on the Treasury Department’s website.
“We have listened to your feedback. And we are taking action. The Administration is announcing that it will provide an additional year before the ACA mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin.”
The penalty totals $2,000 for each employee without coverage.
“Obamacare costs too much and it isn’t working the way the administration promised,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “And while the White House seems to slowly be admitting what Americans already know, and what I hear consistently in my travels around Kentucky regarding the regulatory burden on employers, the fact remains that Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced with common-sense reforms that actually lower costs for Americans.”
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) questioned whether President Obama had the authority to issue the delay without the approval of Congress.
“This is another in a string of extra legal actions taken by his administration to mask the horrible impact his law will have on the economy and healthcare in the United States,” Issa said.