Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Obamacare’
December 19th, 2014 at 10:28 am
Podcast: 46% of Doctors Give ObamaCare a “D” or “F” Grade
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Dr. Jeffrey Singer, Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute and Doc Squads Member, discusses the “2014 Survey of American Physicians,” how ObamaCare is disrupting the doctor-patient relationship and worsening the quality of patients’ care, and how increased use of emergency rooms result in a hidden tax.

Listen to the interview here.

December 17th, 2014 at 2:34 pm
Fed Judge Says Obama’s Amnesty Unconstitutional

A federal district judge has said that President Barack Obama’s amnesty program for illegal immigrants violates the U.S. Constitution.

The only question: Does it matter?

Judge Arthur Schwab, a George W. Bush appointee, issued a ruling yesterday saying that, “President Obama’s executive action goes beyond prosecutorial discretion because: (a) it provides for a systematic and rigid process by which a broad group of individuals will be treated differently than others based upon arbitrary classifications, rather than case-by-case examination; and (b) it allows undocumented immigrants, who fall within these broad categories, to obtain substantive rights.”

Unfortunately, however, Judge Schwab’s declaration may be little more than a non-binding advisory opinion. According to conservative law professor Jonathan Adler – one of the originators of the ObamaCare subsidies challenge now before the U.S. Supreme Court – Schwab’s ruling came after he requested supplemental briefing in a case trying to decide how to sentence an illegal immigrant for a non-immigration-related crime. Apparently, Schwab wanted to know if the defendant qualified for protection from deportation under Obama’s plan. Schwab then used the occasion to find the amnesty program unconstitutional.

While legal experts like Adler try to figure out how much to make of this opinion, Schwab’s ruling points to a larger issue. Namely, that major policy changes have major policy implications. For example, legal immigrants are finding out that creating exceptions for illegals increases the costs on the law-abiding.

Time will tell if Obama’s amnesty program has a negative impact on the federal court system as well.

December 9th, 2014 at 1:31 pm
Gruber Gets Gored

Even though Jonathan Gruber did his best to apologize for his incredibly damaging – and seemingly accurate – remarks about how and why ObamaCare was drafted, there was no place to hide from the bipartisan rebuke he received today from the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform.

Gruber is the now infamous MIT professor and erstwhile “architect” of Democrats’ signature health reform law that called American voters “stupid” for not understanding basic economics and the deceptive policies embedded in ObamaCare.

Gruber’s comments have incensed Republicans, but they’ve also infuriated Democrats. Of all the anger directed at Gruber today, perhaps none was more forceful than that erupting from Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the committee.

“As far as I can tell, we are here today to beat up on Jonathan Gruber for stupid – I mean absolutely stupid – comments he made over the last few years,” Cummings said. “Let me be clear, I am extremely frustrated with Dr. Gruber’s statements” because “They were irresponsibly, incredibly disrespectful, and did not reflect reality. And they were indeed insulting.”

We’ll see if any of this theater persuades the Supreme Court. Next spring the justices consider whether a section of ObamaCare should be interpreted, as written, to deny subsidies to citizens in 37 states that use the federal health insurance exchange. It’s an interpretation that Democrats oppose, but Gruber in at least one viral video adamantly confirms.

It’s been said that a political gaffe occurs when someone says the truth in public. Regarding ObamaCare’s deceptive elements, that may be Jonathan Gruber’s greatest offense.

December 8th, 2014 at 6:22 pm
ObamaCare’s ‘Stupid Voter’ Architect to Testify at GOP Hearing

On Tuesday this week Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist and ObamaCare architect made infamous by a series of viral videos confirming suspicions of deceptive lawmaking, will appear before the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee.

It won’t be a pleasant meeting for Gruber.

Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has titled the hearing, “Examining ObamaCare Transparency Failures.”

The biggest issue will be whether Issa and his fellow Republicans can get Gruber to confirm his previous statement that ObamaCare only grants insurance subsidies to people in states that operate their own health exchange. That’s the central issue in the case going before the Supreme Court next spring, and if the justices accept it, much of ObamaCare could be gutted.

Liberals are already trying to get ahead of any Gruber confessions under oath that could undermine their landmark domestic policy.

In a long-read piece at Politico, a former Democratic staffer tries to minimize the impact of Gruber’s comments by first saying he wasn’t involved in the policymaking process. That’s a fair point.

But then the staffer seems to completely confirm Gruber’s main argument – that the disputed statutory language was deliberately concocted to confuse people who weren’t in on the backroom political calculations.

The Politico reporter sums up the staffer’s argument this way: “The point of having the ‘Balkanized’ approach – state health exchanges plus a federal one for states that didn’t build their own – was to appeal to centrist senators, he said, since most liberal Democrats would have been happy just to have a federal one.”

As the staffer explains it, “No one was willing to fall on their swords to make sure states ran their own exchanges.”

In other words, the text in the law that limits the flow of subsidies to state exchanges is nothing more than an Orwellian wordplay. It doesn’t mean what it says. Rather, it’s designed to give ‘centrist’ senators political cover for voting to do the exact opposite – give subsidies to everyone.

Confused? Gruber isn’t.

This new rationale sounds an awful lot like the “tortured” drafting of ObamaCare that takes advantage of the “stupidity of the American voter” that Gruber’s been saying for years.

Kudos for being honest. Now let’s see if he will remain so under oath.

December 1st, 2014 at 7:12 pm
ObamaCare Poorly Written No Matter How You Spin It

National Journal has a piece warning liberals not to dismiss the latest Supreme Court challenge to ObamaCare.

Specifically, it argues that liberals shouldn’t rely on the idea that the disputed statutory text – the part that limits federal subsidies to buy health insurance only to plans bought on an exchange “established by the State” – is simply a typo that can be brushed aside as a drafting error. Doing so would empower conservatives on the Court to say, in essence, that “they see the error, are powerless to fix it, and so must dismantle the statute.”

But here’s where the analysis goes off the rails. According to the NJ writer, the subsidies challenge should fail because “if you read the whole Affordable Care Act, taken together, the ‘established by the State’ line loses its clarity.”

In other words, when we read the relevant part of a federal statute and discover that it makes other parts of the same law undesirable – e.g. unsubsidized and thus unaffordable health insurance – the judges should ignore the plain text and substitute what they think Congress really intended.

That’s the kind of judicial activism that conservative justices like Antonin Scalia despise.

Or is it?

“…ObamaCare supporters have a pretty strong argument on the textual side because judges – even strict constructionists like Justice Antonin Scalia – have consistently said that courts should read the entire law as one unit when handling questions of statutory interpretation,” writes the author.

But that’s only true if the specific section under review is ambiguous. Zooming out to look at the entire law isn’t necessary when it’s plain to see that subsidies are clearly prohibited when States don’t operate their own exchanges. If ObamaCare is clear in the details and only loses clarity when read as a whole, that’s a problem for Congress to correct, not the Court.

No matter which way you read the subsidies provision, ObamaCare is proving itself to be a very badly written law.

November 26th, 2014 at 2:40 pm
Amnesty Loophole Makes Illegal Immigrants More Cost-Effective than Native Workers

President Barack Obama’s decision to grant amnesty and work permits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants creates a loophole that makes them $3,000 more attractive than native born and naturalized Americans, according to the Washington Times.

The loophole arises because Obama’s amnesty order prohibits the beneficiaries from buying subsidized insurance on an ObamaCare exchange. That prohibition means that employers don’t have to pay the $3,000 per employee fine the controversial health law imposes on businesses that don’t provide “affordable” health insurance. (Lack of affordability is what qualifies an employee to get a subsidy for the exchange.)

In other words, from an employer’s standpoint, hiring someone from Obama’s 5 million-strong amnesty pool means getting an exemption from the $3,000 fine.

So, not only are illegal immigrants covered by Obama’s amnesty skipping ahead of people trying to immigrate legally, they’re now also equivalent to a get-out-of-fines-free card when compared to all the workers already here.

And the outrage will just keep on building…

November 25th, 2014 at 5:03 pm
Jonathan Gruber to Testify Before House Committee

For political junkies, the news that MIT professor and ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber has agreed to testify before the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee is must see TV.

Gruber has stirred up a hornet’s nest of negative press for the controversial health care law because of statements he’s made at academic conferences over the last few years. Helpfully summarized by the folks at American Commitment, Gruber’s comments include calling American voters stupid and admitting to writing ObamaCare’s text in a tortured way to avoid a straightforward cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.

Also appearing at the hearing will be Marilyn Tavener, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to explain – presumably with a straight face – why revelations that ObamaCare’s reported enrollment of 7 million inexplicably counted 400,000 dental plans. Republicans suspect a bad faith face-saving move since without the incorrectly included dental plans enrollment would have failed to reach CBO’s benchmark estimate.

All in all, December 9, 2014 should be an entertaining day in Washington, D.C. – if you like to watch contentious oversight hearings.

November 20th, 2014 at 7:49 pm
HHS Caught Padding ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers

Is anything the Obama administration says about ObamaCare worth believing?

“The Obama administration said it erroneously calculated the number of people with health coverage under [ObamaCare], incorrectly adding 380,000 dental subscribers to raise the total above 7 million,” reports Bloomberg.

The revelation came to light thanks to diligent work by House Oversight Committee investigators.

Bloomberg quotes Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell as saying, “The mistake we made is unacceptable,” but the news agency goes on to report HHS may have been intentionally misleading in its counts in the run-up to the midterm elections.

“Federal officials said in September they had 7.3 million people enrolled in coverage through new government-run insurance exchanges. They didn’t distinguish between medical and dental plans, breaking from previous practice without notice.” (Emphasis mine)

Along with the Grubergate deceptions, it’s hard to believe that HHS did anything other the deliberately fudge the numbers to help ObamaCare (barely) meet a previous CBO projection. Falling below that threshold would surely have been an embarrassment to the Obama administration, so someone at HHS just changed the rules so the home team could win.

Sounds similar to the president’s approach to immigration, doesn’t it?

November 20th, 2014 at 4:57 pm
GruberGate: All You Need to Know About the Jonathan Gruber Controversy In a Single Two-Minute Video

At the pace with which new videos continue to surface of ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber insulting American voters and exposing the Administration’s legal and deceitful public relations case for the president’s signature health care law, it truly is hard to keep up. 

Therefore, a big thank you is in order to the good folks at American Commitment, the organization that released the first Gruber video, for compiling everything you need to know about GruberGate, including Mr. Gruber’s most controversial comments – all in this in one handy two-minute video.

November 18th, 2014 at 6:10 pm
Ahead of SCOTUS Challenge, HHS Murky on State-Based Exchange Definition

With its surprising decision to hear oral argument on an ObamaCare subsidy challenge next spring, the Supreme Court of the United States is causing a flurry of activity as some states try to shore up their status ahead of a potentially costly decision.

“The consulting firm Avalere Health estimates that nearly 5 million people would see their premiums spike 76 percent, on average, if the Supreme Court strikes down subsidies in states that don’t operate their own exchanges,” reports Governing. “That estimate assumes a greater number of exchanges are considered federal, not state-based, but the question of what exactly constitutes a ‘state-based’ health exchange is murky.”

How murky?

“States have the option of running their own exchange completely (a state-based exchange), managing aspects of plan design or consumer outreach (a partnership exchange) or leaving everything to the federal government (a federally facilitated exchange),” according to the website.

Predictably, the federal Department of Health and Human Services isn’t divulging its exact criteria for categorizing an exchange, a stance that leaves states without a clear picture of how to prepare for a possible elimination of subsidies to residents.

Some states, like Nevada and Oregon that switched to Healthcare.gov – the federal website – are still considered to have state-based exchanges because they retain control over functions like plan approval, data collection and quality reporting. Others, like Utah and Mississippi, also fall into the state-based category because they host small business exchanges (but not individual exchanges).

So, the bottom line appears to be this: If the Supreme Court axes ObamaCare subsidies per the law’s text and intent, there’s a good chance President Barack Obama’s political appointees will engage in verbal gymnastics to find ways to define “state-based exchanges” in whatever manner best suits them.

No matter. Getting something fundamentally better than ObamaCare isn’t the Supreme Court’s job anyway. Best to pocket the subsidy win if it comes and work toward a policy consensus among the political branches that delivers real reform.

November 17th, 2014 at 3:42 pm
Gallup: New High in Public Disapproval of ObamaCare

Fifty-six percent of Americans disapprove of ObamaCare, the highest number disapproving of the controversial health care law since Gallup began asking the question.

Approval of ObamaCare peaked just before the 2012 presidential election, but has cratered since then.

The culprit is reality.

The beginning of ObamaCare’s nosedive in popularity “occurred in early November 2013”, according to Gallup’s analysis, “shortly after millions of Americans received notices that their current policies were being canceled, which was at odds with President Barack Obama’s pledge that those who liked their plans could keep them. The president later said, by way of clarification, that Americans could keep their plans if those plans didn’t change after [ObamaCare] was passed.”

In other words, the law has continued to grow less popular with each new revelation that it was sold on a pack of lies.

Though completely repealing the entire law seems unlikely because the new Republican Senate majority is less than the number needed to overcome a certain Obama veto, the increasing levels of voter disapproval could convince some Senate Democrats to join Republicans in dismantling large parts.

Unless, that is, they want to risk involuntary retirement when their next election arrives.

November 14th, 2014 at 1:32 pm
Ponnuru: What to Do If SCOTUS Strikes Down ObamaCare Subsidies

With ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber’s admissions that the controversial health law was sold on a pack of lies, the probability is rising that the Supreme Court will interpret the law as written and eliminate subsidies for millions of people.

If that happens, will Republicans in Congress be ready?

In order to lay the groundwork for an ObamaCare alternative that covers as many or more people than the current law, and costs less, Republicans in Congress could unite behind a framework proposed by conservative health experts James Capretta and Yuval Levin. Similar ideas have been endorsed by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the incoming-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the likely next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

If the Supreme Court does strike down the subsidies, President Barack Obama won’t have much leverage since, “Much of ObamaCare would have just self-destructed due to its own design flaws and lack of public support, and Republicans would be offering a way to advance the law’s stated goal of assuring coverage – if not in the highly prescriptive and centralized manner the White House prefers”, writes Ramesh Ponnuru. “Democrats’ favored lines of attack on Republicans over health care – that they have no alternative, that they would take people off the insurance rolls – would have been neutralized.”

Sounds like a strategy worth pursuing.

November 13th, 2014 at 7:12 pm
Repeal of ObamaCare’s Medical Device Tax Coming Soon?

Repealing ObamaCare’s medical device tax is one of the ways to deprive the controversial health law of $30 billion in funding, so it’s no wonder Republicans in Congress are getting ready to do just that.

Unlike other features of ObamaCare – such as the individual and employer mandates – the medical device tax has bipartisan opposition because it threatens up to 43,000 jobs. So, even though President Barack Obama would likely veto any repeal bills that land on his desk, a measure killing the medical device tax might be able to attract enough votes to override him.

If successful, repealing the medical device tax might convince Democrats in Congress that ObamaCare isn’t sacrosanct. Maybe then they’ll be open to trying something else.

November 13th, 2014 at 10:16 am
Podcast: From ObamaCare to Title II Internet Regulation
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In a recent interview with CFIF, Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment, discusses the Supreme Court’s decision to grant cert in the ObamaCare subsidies case, how a key architect of ObamaCare made news recently by boasting about taking advantage of “the stupidity of the American voter,” and what’s wrong with President Obama’s intervention in the FCC’s plans to regulate the Internet. 

Listen to the interview here.

November 12th, 2014 at 6:20 pm
ObamaCare’s 2015 Tax Bite

Too bad the incoming Republican majority in Congress probably can’t repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate before next April, because it looks like millions of middle-income Americans will see their tax refund cut by one-third.

“The financial penalty for skipping out on health insurance coverage [i.e. not complying with the individual mandate] will more than triple to $325 per person in 2015, or 2 percent of income, depending on whichever is higher,” reports CBS News. “Children will be fined at half the adult rate, or $162.50 for those under 18 years old.”

“Based on the flat-rate method, the maximum dollar amount an uninsured family could be fined is $975,” says the news outlet.

To put this into perspective, the average annual American tax refund is about $3,000, meaning that a $975 IRS penalty would reduce the value by one-third.

This is likely to hit middle-income Americans particularly hard since many may be earning too much in wages or salary to qualify for an ObamaCare subsidy. The Catch-22 facing these families is cutting back on other spending to pay high monthly premiums, or foregoing insurance and waiting to see how much the IRS will confiscate. Either way, the predicament facing millions of middle-income Americans is likely to make them even more hostile toward a law billed as the “Affordable Care Act.”

November 10th, 2014 at 7:07 pm
HHS Reduces ObamaCare 2015 Enrollment Prediction by 30%

On Monday, the Obama administration threw out a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate that ObamaCare would have 13 million enrollees by February 15, 2015. It also discarded a CBO forecast that the controversial health law would have 25 million enrollees by 2017.

Instead, the federal department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said a more likely scenario would be between 9 and 9.9 million by mid-February – a reduction of 30% from CBO’s calculations. As for 2017 totals, HHS will not commit to any numbers.

“The reduced projection is due to recent data showing ‘mixed evidence’ about how quickly – and how dramatically – people will shift from employer-sponsored health insurance and non-ObamaCare plans into insurance plans sold on government-run marketplaces such as HealthCare.gov,” reports CNBC.

What HHS isn’t saying is how the Obama administration playing politics with statutorily mandated deadlines has fouled up ObamaCare’s implementation timetable. Originally, CBO and others could reasonably anticipate quick and dramatic shifts onto ObamaCare plans because the employer mandate made it financially smart to dump workers onto the exchanges and pay a relatively small fine.

But fearing a voter backlash at such a quick and dramatic change, the Obama administration has delayed implementing the employer mandate at least three times. It now isn’t scheduled to go into effect until 2017 – the first year after President Barack Obama is out of office.

According to an HHS report, “there is considerable uncertainty that a large shift will occur over the new two years”, which, “contributes to an analysis that the ramp up to 25 million will take more than three years.”

In other words, thanks to politically motivated regulators, no one knows when, or if, ObamaCare will meet its most important benchmark – sustainable enrollment.

November 7th, 2014 at 5:45 pm
Supreme Court to Hear ObamaCare Subsidy Challenge

In a surprise move, the United States Supreme Court announced today it will hear a third challenge to ObamaCare in as many years.

The case, King v. Burwell, is one of many lawsuits challenging a controversial IRS decision to extend federal subsidies to any person eligible to buy insurance on an ObamaCare exchange. The legal fight is over whether the text of ObamaCare permits subsidies to be given to citizens purchasing health insurance through Healthcare.gov, the federal exchange, when the law clearly says they cannot.

Supporters of ObamaCare say the disputed statutory language amounts to typos inconsistent with the spirit and purpose of the law. Opponents insist that the plain meaning of the words be honored, or risk the rule of law taking a back seat to bureaucratic whim.

The timing of the Supreme Court’s decision means that oral arguments will be held sometime in the spring with a final decision likely next summer. If the challengers are successful, King v. Burwell may go down in history as the lawsuit that signaled the beginning of the end of ObamaCare.

November 5th, 2014 at 3:08 pm
Can Congressional GOP Hang Together on ObamaCare?

Conservative health policy experts Avik Roy and Gracie-Marie Turner both have interesting long reads on what the new Republican majority in Congress should do to transition away from ObamaCare towards a more market friendly alternative.

Both call for a unified strategy focused on repealing ObamaCare’s most unpopular elements and daring President Barack Obama to veto. Importantly, both want the GOP to leave the door open for a truly patient-centered alternative that reduces the government’s role while increasing access to quality health care. It’s a tall order with little consensus.

Roy and Turner each have specific pathways for achieving their goals, and it’s worth reading their articles to get a sense of where conservative health policy may be heading. However, the success of a conservative ObamaCare alternative ultimately comes down to whether House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can corral enough of their members around a unified endpoint. That job is made trickier by the fact that the 2016 presidential campaign will soon be underway, with lots of Republican candidates keeping the specifics of their own ObamaCare alternatives close to the vest.

Going forward, the real goal for Boehner and McConnell is to get rid of what they can, minimize what they can’t and leave enough room for the 2016 presidential nominee to maneuver toward an alternative the public will support.

Easy? No. The price of leadership? You betcha.

November 3rd, 2014 at 5:09 pm
Fed Court Blocks Contraception Mandate Reporting Requirements

With its newest batch of regulations, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) essentially is telling non-profit religious employers that they can claim an exemption from ObamaCare’s contraception mandate, so long as they provide all the information necessary to violate the deeply held beliefs that justify the exemption.

As Lyle Denniston of SCOTUS Blog explains, the rules “also required the organization to tell the government what its health coverage plan for its employees was by name and type, and to provide contact information to the insurer operating the plan.

“The added information was designed to enable HHS to then take the initiative to arrange for the religious organization’s female employees to have contraceptive coverage at no cost, and with no cost to the organization itself.”

The controversial HHS rules came to light because of a legal challenge filed by a Catholic university in Florida. A federal judge blocked enforcement of the rules pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

A couple of observations immediately come to mind. First, there is no such thing as free contraception. If the insurance company must provide it “free” to some customers, it will then pass on the cost to others (e.g. higher premiums). Even the manpower at HHS spent on coordinating this run-around the First Amendment costs taxpayers money.

This brings up another point. How can it be that the federal agency charged with implementing ObamaCare has the resources and personnel available to investigate, negotiate and procure “free” contraception to the thousands (and more) employees working at exempt religious employers?

It’s not like there’s a public health crisis over lack of access to contraception. If HHS has so many extra people and dollars laying around, it should funnel them to real priorities like fighting Ebola, or perhaps, finishing ObamaCare’s main insurance portal before the second enrollment period begins in a matter of days.

Instead we get demands for information in order to make religious objectors participate in the very activity they cannot abide.

October 31st, 2014 at 9:47 am
ObamaScare: The ObamaCare Nightmare Continues
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Sally Pipes, President and the Taube Fellow in Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, discusses how the nightmare continues with the second open enrollment season for ObamaCare commencing November 15th, days after the mid-term elections, and why ObamaCare may be on shaky ground as court battles loom.

Listen to the interview here.