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From Health Law Daily, October 17, 2013

Government funded until January 15; furloughed workers back to work

By Paul Clark

President Obama signed the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-46) into law in the early hours of October 17, in effect re-opening the parts of the federal government that had been shut down since October 1, at least until January 15, 2014. The Senate and the House both passed the legislation late in the day on October 16. The law also extends the U.S. Treasury’s borrowing authority until February 7, 2014. A memo from Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell stated that “All employees who were on furlough due to the absence of appropriations may now return to work.”

The law provides fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriations for federal government functions at FY 2013 levels, until January 15. If Congress does not pass a comprehensive budget deal or another continuing resolution by that date, another partial government shutdown may occur. It also keeps in place all the 2 percent cut in government spending that went into effect earlier this year, otherwise known as the sequester.

During this 16-day shutdown, up to 800,000 of the more than 2 million federal government workers were furloughed, although some of these employees were called back during the shutdown. The law provides compensation for federal employees for work days missed during the furlough.

Income verification. Sec. 1001 of the new law directs HHS to ensure that the new health insurance exchanges or marketplaces verify that individuals applying for premium tax credits under sec. 1402 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (P.L. 111-148) are eligible for such credits and cost sharing reductions. The law also requires the HHS Secretary to certify to Congress that the insurance exchanges verify this eligibility requirement.

The law further requires the Secretary of HHS to make a report to Congress by January 1, 2014, that details the procedures used by exchanges to verify eligibility for credits and cost-sharing reductions. By July 1, 2014, the HHS Office of Inspector General is required to submit a report to Congress regarding the effectiveness of the procedures and safeguards provided under PPACA for preventing the submission of inaccurate or fraudulent information by applicants for enrollment in qualified plans offered by an exchange.

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