WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama’s signature health care program has run into another problem.
About 800,000 customers of HealthCare.gov, the website where people can sign up for insurance under the program, got the wrong tax information from the government, the Obama administration said Friday. Officials are asking those affected to delay filing their 2014 tax returns.
The 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, has helped millions of previously uninsured Americans get access to health care. The law subsidizes private health insurance for people who don’t have access to job-based coverage.
The tax mistake is a self-inflicted injury that comes on the heels of what Obama had touted as a successful enrollment season, with about 11.4 million people signed up.
The error means that nearly 1 million people may have to wait longer to get their income tax refunds this year, and it could affect the size of those refunds.
Obama considers the health care act the key achievement of his first term, but Republicans vehemently oppose it as an example of government overreach, objecting especially to a mandate that nearly all Americans carry health insurance or face fines.
However, most do not see the initiative going away.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted to repeal it 56 times and even if such a bill got through the Senate, now also under Republican control, Obama would surely veto it.
In another threat to the program, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case this spring challenging the government subsidies that help millions of low- and middle-income people afford their health insurance premiums. The legal challenge maintains that under a literal reading of the law passed by Congress, financial aid can only be provided in states that have set up their own health insurance coverages but not in states using the federal exchanges.
Federal officials also announced Friday a special sign-up extension for uninsured people facing the health care law’s tax penalties for the first time this year.
Several million households could benefit from that grace period, which had been sought by Democratic lawmakers in Congress.