Deadline, delays loom over ObamaCare rule

The healthcare law assumes that the funding will no longer be needed once provisions aimed at providing broader insurance coverage — including an expansion of Medicaid — take effect.

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Federal regulators hoped to have the proposal published last month, but it is only now hitting the desk of the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the agency tasked with sifting through the details.

The contents of the proposed rule will not be available the office finishes its review, which is required to take 90 days or less. The document will likely provide the health department's plan for calculating the cuts.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the department has an obligation to finalize these rules by this October, but procedural and political delays could threaten that deadline.

Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that the Obama administration is hoping to delay the 2014 implementation date, following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion.

President Obama’s budget recommends delaying the cuts until 2015, the Post reports.

In addition, there are regulatory hurdles the proposal has to break through.

Many of OIRA’s reviews are behind schedule, and even if the White House releases the proposal within 90 days, any changes the health department must make before publishing means the draft may not reach the public until August.

Following the release, the department must hold a comment period — lasting anywhere between 30 and 90 days — and then make changes to the proposal before submitting its final rule to the White House for review. Then, the second 90-day OIRA review process begins.

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