Hero of the Day: CNBC's Dan Mangan!

Earlier today, the CMS/HHS Dept. held a press call to discuss the #ACATaxTime Special Enrollment Period for people who missed the open enrollment deadline this year, had to pay the non-coverage tax penalty last year and "didn't know" about the penalty until it was too late. They also discussed the exciting world of the 1095-A tax form. That's the one you fill out if you received federal ACA exchange policy tax credits for 2014; you have to reconcile what you thought your income would be with your actual income to see whether you have to pay anything back or receive a higher credit.

As you may recall, there was a bit of a problem with roughly 820,000 of the 1095-A forms; they had the wrong benchmark plan listed, which screwed up the formula used to calculate the subsidy for the tax filer, so they originally told those folks to hang tight until they received the corrected form.

Unfortunately, about 50,000 people had already filed their taxes with the wrong form. The good news is that a few weeks ago, after crunching the numbers, the Treasury Dept. came out and basically said, "eh...it's a wash" and told those 50K people not to worry about refiling unless they wanted to do so; if they owed the IRS a few extra bucks, Treasury decided give them a pass on it, figuring that the amount owed to the IRS was pretty much cancelled out by the additional amount owed to the taxpayers.

Anyway, today, if I understood them correctly, the Treasury Dept. basically said that they're now giving the same "waiver" to pretty much any of those 820K who may have already filed their taxes: They'd prefer that they use the correct form, but they're gonna let it slide if they don't. Around 741K have already received their corrected 1095-A form; the other 80K or so are supposed to be sent out next week:

Today, the Department of the Treasury is expanding the relief it announced previously on February 24, which will mitigate any harm to tax filers. If you enrolled in Marketplace coverage, received an incorrect Form 1095-A, and filed your return based on that form, you do not need to file an amended tax return. The IRS will not pursue the collection of any additional taxes from you based on updated information in the corrected forms. This relief applies to tax filers who enrolled through the Federally-facilitated marketplace or a state-based marketplace.

As before, you still may choose to file an amended return. Treasury intends to provide additional information to help tax filers determine whether they would benefit from filing amended returns. You also may want to consult with you tax preparers to determine if you would benefit from amending. For more information on the Treasury announcement, see Treasury’s statement and consumer FAQs.

However, for me, that wasn't the major news: The significant item which came out of the call from my perspective was that CNBC's Dan Mangan finally asked the question I've been harping on for weeks now: Will HC.gov release enrollment data for the tax season SEP or not (which runs from 3/15 - 4/30 in most states).

The answer--official, on the record, etc--is that yes, they will release updated enrollment data sometime next week.

This is great to hear, although they didn't answer the other surrounding questions:

  • What about the other 5 weeks of the 6-week SEP?
    (My guess is that yes, they'll release 6 weekly "snapshot reports", but they didn't actually say that)
  • Will it be one big number only or will they break it out by the 34 states on the federal exchange?
  • Will that number include the 3-week period from 2/22 - 3/14?
    (This number won't be huge but it'd be really irritating to have a 3-week data gap. My guess: Yes, they will include it; it'd be easier to include those stray numbers than to leave them out anyway), and finally...
  • ...What about the off-season period (from May 1st - October 31st)?

Anyway, a big shout-out to Dan Mangan for asking the question I've been pestering HHS/CMS/HC.gov about. At least he got a partial response.