While the official sign-up period for President Obama’s healthcare law has ended on Sunday, the struggle isn’t over for the millions of Americans who are facing tax penalties as a result of not succeeding to secure healthcare coverage.
As a result, congressional Democrats now hope to aid the Americans stuck in the healthcare gap by urging the administration to create particular sign-up opportunities for taxpayers who remain uninsured.
Statements released by Administration officials said that such a “special enrollment period” would be considered, especially because of the millions who would otherwise have to pay tax penalty for not having had health coverage in 2014 and having failed to obtain it for 2015.
As Treasury officials report, the majority of citizens only realize that they owe the money when attempting to file their income tax returns. But, Treasury statistics suggest that as many as six million Americans might be in this situation. Congressional Democrats such as Sander Levin, Jim McDermott and Lloyd Doggett insists that many of their constituents will only discover about the penalties they will be forced to pay when it’s already too late to sign up for healthcare coverage.
“A special enrollment period will not only help many Americans avoid making an even larger payment next year, but, more importantly, it will help them gain quality health insurance for 2015,”
they said, also mentioning that those Americans who will have to pay fines won’t be able to enroll for the health coverage they require if such a special enrollment period isn’t set.
This initiative has also received support by other lawmakers, such as Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, who believes that, even if taxpayers will have no other option but to pay the penalty, they may seek to purchase insurance so as to avoid a similar situation the next year.
Until now, administration officials have declined to answer questions regarding a possible extension, however, lawmakers and supporters of the law insist that such an initiative would only work towards helping those who had been the main focus of Obama’s healthcare law in the first place.
Many of the Americans currently facing such tax penalties are Texas residents, where lawmakers did not agree to expand Medicaid. Nonprofit organizations as well as volunteer tax advisers are now working on ways to help low-income residents with the situation. They may be eligible for an exemption to this tax penalty, Marjorie Petty, Regional Director of the US Department of Health and Human Services claims.
The Internal Revenue Service created an exemption form for those American taxpayers who are ineligible to apply for Medicaid coverage but who bring in a yearly household income of less than 138% of the federal poverty level ($16,104 per person or $32,913 per four-person household).
Image Source: Chicago Tribune
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