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June 16, 2013

IRS scandals threaten funding for health care

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Starting next year, the IRS will administer subsidies to help millions of individuals buy health insurance. The subsidies, technically tax credits because they are administered through the tax code, will help low- and middle-income families buy health insurance through the state-based exchanges.

Under the new law, nearly everyone in the U.S. will be required to have health insurance starting in 2014, or face penalties. The IRS will collect those penalties.

About 6 million people are expected to get the insurance subsidies next year, and that number will grow to 20 million by 2017, according to estimates by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The enrollment season to buy health insurance through the exchanges starts Oct. 1.

“The bottom line here is that the IRS can barely manage what it already has to do, and that’s a generous characterization given the targeting of conservative groups,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees the IRS.

“Adding Obamacare under the IRS, that can only be described as a looming disaster,” Hatch said. “And now the Democrats are saying we need to give the IRS more money. I’m not sure I’m willing to do that.”

Democrats in Congress say they are growing tired of Republican attempts to repeal a law that has survived a review by the Supreme Court and whose main champion — Obama — won re-election last year.

“The American people will see over the next six months the lengths the Republicans will go to destroy the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” said Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington state, a senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. “I’ve expected it from the first day this (IRS) issue came up.”

“I’m sad about it, it’s awful,” McDermott added. “But sometimes in a democracy people have to learn the hard way, and the American public is going to learn.”

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Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenatap

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