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Health Law Credits Boosted Coverage in 2014, GAO Says

By Adriel Bettelheim, CQ Roll Call

March 23, 2015 -- A look at the early numbers suggests that the premium tax credit offered via the Affordable Care Act boosted health care coverage in 2014.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last week found that the tax credit, which was intended to make premiums more affordable under the law, expanded coverage among uninsured, eligible people by as much as 5 percent in 2014.

The GAO looked at studies on insurance rates and interviewed experts from 11 research groups, as well as from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The report found that the advanced premium tax credit reduced premiums by 76 percent from 2013 to 2014.  Although data were not yet available for 2015, studies found the tax credit caused only modest changes between 2014 and 2015.

The GAO also released a report last week recommending that Congress require Medicare to pay certain exempt cancer hospitals in the same way in pays teaching hospitals, saying that methodologies for paying the exempt hospitals provided little incentive to control costs.

In 2012, the report found, Medicare payments to the exempt hospitals and the teaching hospitals, were substantially higher—roughly 42 percent more for inpatient services.

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