Tag: Obamacare

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Like most everyone here, I’m quite concerned about the effects of the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare subsidies yesterday.  My concerns are two-fold:  first,  the policy implications for healthcare; and second, the implications for the rule of law.   On the first point, I’m starting to feel ever so slightly better.  Had the subsidies been […]

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Fighting Fatalism

 

shutterstock_135889718Like many right-of-center Americans, I fell into a months-long funk when Barack Obama was re-elected. I understood voting for a charismatic cipher in 2008 after years of war, scandal, and a financial collapse. It would have been hard for a Democrat not to win, especially with the cheerleading of newsrooms and popular culture.

But 2012 was a different matter altogether. The voters knew who Obama was. They lived through four years of economic stagnation, failed foreign policy, and the callow dilettante presiding over both. They saw the backroom deals and the trillion wasted on a fictitious stimulus, but the American people didn’t care. They agreed with Mitt Romney on nearly every issue, but Obama made failure look cool. They applauded American decline and signed on for another four years.

Week by week, I slowly got over my 2012 fatalism. I focused on the small victories conservatives could win in the states and school boards. I saw a rising tide of right-leaning problem solvers in governors’ mansions and statehouses. And despite the bad rap many millennials get, I met so many young people who got it. My inherent optimism slowly returned.

Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare Subsidies

 

shutterstock_103670531From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide tax subsidies underpinning President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, rejecting a major challenge to the landmark law in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.

The justices said in a 6-3 ruling that the subsidies that 8.7 million people currently receive to make insurance affordable do not depend on where they live, as opponents contended.

Bracing for King v. Burwell

 

Obama_signs_health_care-20100323By the end of this week, we’ll have a Supreme Court decision on King v. Burwell, the latest “challenge to Obamacare,” as the headlines put it. The first thing you need to know is that the headlines are all wrong: King v. Burwell is not a “challenge” to Obamacare, and the plaintiffs do not seek to overturn a single sentence of the Affordable Care Act. Rather, they are challenging an IRS rule that is blatantly unfaithful to the ACA (but happens to be politically expedient for the administration).

Quick background: one section of the ACA says that “States” shall establish “Exchanges” to regulate the health insurance market within their borders (§1311). Another section says — for states that “fail” to establish Exchanges — the Secretary of HHS can establish a federal Exchange (§1321). And then, in another section, the ACA says that low-income citizens can be eligible for tax credits if they purchase health insurance “through an Exchange established by the State” (§36B).

The whole point of this structure was to pressure the states into establishing exchanges. States that failed to do so would face the wrath of voters who didn’t get their subsidies. The administration and its congressional allies assumed that the states would knuckle-under and create exchanges. In the end, 36 states did not set up exchanges.

When You Start Making Maureen Dowd Look Classy By Comparison…

 

BarnicleI’ve never much liked the “you won’t believe what the liberal media just said” game. Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad other people are doing it. It’s just never been a big part of my portfolio. It seems a little too easy. If — like me and, I’d imagine, many of our readers — you find most of the Left’s more prominent talking heads these days to be intellectual flyweights, it rarely feels worth the candle.

That said, I do harbor a longstanding vendetta against pundits who feel no compunction about shoehorning their ideology into other people’s tragedies. Last year, for instance, I posted about Paul Krugman trying to score political points off of Tom Coburn’s cancer, as well as Maureen Dowd’s shameless attempt to get a column on Hillary Clinton out of Robin Williams’ suicide, both efforts I found utterly tasteless. Well, MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle — who, the few times I’ve seen him on TV, has struck me as crazy but not MSNBC crazy — rounded out the triumvirate this weekend. Barnicle’s newest Daily Beast column starts out as a seemingly thoughtful reflection on last week’s shooting in Charleston:

A week filled with terror and trauma carried out by a sociopath, a 21-year-old racist named Dylann Roof seemed to conclude with a prayer in the form of the simple, eloquent words of Nadine Collier, whose 70-year-old mother, Ethel Lance, was one of nine dead among the pews of the Emmanuel African Methodist Church Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C.: “You took something very precious away from me,” Ms. Collier said to the killer in a courtroom where a bond hearing was held for Roof. “I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul.”

Repeal the Medical Device Tax … But Not Yet

 

Picking up on a point I hinted at in my post on Friday, Republicans need to think very carefully — and strategically — about repealing Obamacare’s medical device tax. There’s no question that the tax is destructive — but the same is true, on a much grander scale, of Obamacare as a whole. And we have to recognize that repealing the former on its own may make it harder to get rid of the latter.

The medical device industry has reportedly already spent $30 million trying to get the GOP to kill the tax. But if Republicans go along with that plan, the industry’s support for the broader repeal/replace agenda will evaporate as soon as they get what they want.

What the Public Wants on Obamacare

 

We know that ObamaCare is unpopular with the public, but do voters agree with conservatives about what should happen next? Some new polling from McLaughlin Associates, on behalf of Independent Women’s Voice and our Bridge to Better project, shows encouraging results:

No surprise, American voters disapprove of Obamacare 52% to 44%. But the survey provided important insight into what Americans want to do with the unpopular law. Only one-in-four voters want to either keep the law as is (4%) or make minor changes to it (21%). On the other side, 20% want full repeal with no further legislative action, 28% want it repealed and replaced, and an additional 22% would keep the law, but with major changes. This is an important finding for Republicans: Most Americans want more than just repeal. They want a better health care system, either after repeal or by significantly changing current law.

ObamaCare Subsidies Are So Important the Government Forgot to Keep Track of Them

 
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Inside the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Last week, I filed a blog post about the looming Supreme Court decision on the case King v. Burwell. The case will determine the legality of billions of dollars worth of subsidies handed out to customers on the federal health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In short, I argued that we shouldn’t weep if the subsidies are struck down. By their very nature, subsidies put upward pressure on prices because they essentially guarantee a level of revenue for the subsidized industry. The higher education system was the example I offered, where we’ve seen tuition prices rise faster than any other sector of the economy, even outpacing healthcare inflation. Ridding the insurance market of subsidies would therefore actually be a step forward towards “affordable” care in the long term, despite some undeniable short-term disruptions that would result.

The Disappearance of Jonathan Gruber

 

jonathan_gruberNo one lectures the United States Supreme Court quite like the New York Times. Their penchant for talking down to (face it) the conservative members of the court has transcended numerous personnel changes at the paper. And when it comes to the issues that define the twilight of modern liberalism, the Times does not obsess (as other, lesser news organizations might) about the distinction between news and opinion pages

A recent article by Robert Pear in the Politics section provides a priceless example. The Times recognizes, of course, that Obamacare represents the high water mark of statist ideology in the past 100 years of the U.S. Congress and that, should the law be forced back to Capitol Hill for repair of one sort or another, it has no chance at survival. As I have written elsewhere, the liberal cognoscenti view their task as pushing forward the great ratchet of history to lift us, the barbarians, out of chaos and onto the plateau of utopia.

Nothing is more agonizing to them than to see the ratchet slip a hard-won notch.

Feminists Against Choice

 

imageThere is no easier, simpler, more efficient way to ensure that people have access to the products and services they want than to leave them to exchange money for them, unencumbered by mandates, quotas, or subsidies. One might argue that doing so is insufficient toward one’s aims — which usually begs the question of who exactly you think you are to get to decide such things — but it’s the logical starting point for all but the most committed of petty totalitarians.

Unfortunately, the dominant strain of leftist feminism is exactly that. For further evidence, look no further than Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s latest article on leftist opposition to a Republican-sponsored proposal to streamline the approval process for over-the-counter oral contraceptives:

The “Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act,” co-sponsored by Sen. [Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and] Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), would encourage birth-control pill manufacturers to file an application with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to sell products over-the-counter (OTC), as well as repeal the Affordable Care Act’s restriction on using health savings accounts to buy non-prescription medication. The full text of the proposal has not yet been released.

Want to Get Rid of Obamacare? Then Don’t Repeal the Medical Device Tax

 

shutterstock_143224918American voters, wanting relief from Obamacare, fired many of the Democrat Senators who rammed it through Congress.  That lesson doesn’t matter nearly as much to some senators as the $30 million spent by medical device makers trying to repeal the specific Obamacare tax applied to them. The device makers—who didn’t oppose passage of the Affordable Care Act—are now poised to get preferential treatment in the proposed Senate Republican budget. Their industry may cut to the front of the line for legislative relief, while the citizens who are paying some $300 billion in ACA taxes will have to wait. And wait. And wait.

Dean Clancy, a former medical device maker executive and a health policy expert writes about it here,  and grassroots advocate Ken Hoagland writes about it here. This is the beginning of a pattern. Next in line are the insurance companies, with legislation to repeal an onerous tax they don’t like.

There may be automatic sympathy for tax cuts on the right. But repealing the medical device tax now is inane if you are serious about wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. These are corporate interests who won’t be around for a 2017 repeal/replace fight that benefits everyone if they’ve already solved their own problems.  Indeed, some of them might then be on the wrong side in 2017.

Time for a GOP Purge?

 
640px-United_States_Capitol_west_front_edit2

A small business?

Sorry to sound like Robespierre, but the disgraceful goings-on described in this National Review article deserve to be investigated and the responsible parties exposed. Simply put, Congress was exempted from Obamacare on the basis of a fraudulent application to the District of Columbia’s health exchange that described the Hill — which employs thousands — as a small business eligible for taxpayer subsidies under the ACA:

No, Congress is Not a Small Business

 

shutterstock_52991284Was Barack Obama worried that if legislators had to live under Obamacare they might be more sympathetic to the law’s critics? Many believe that’s exactly why the President administratively arranged a special waiver for Congress. Their “waiver” contravenes unambiguous language in the Affordable Care Act that defines Congressional participation. But how do you administer such a patently illegal exemption? Through the friendly DC Small Business Exchange of course.

Congress must be the biggest “small business” ever served by the DC Small Business ObamaCare Exchange. The application was signed by someone from the Senate and someone else in the House (their names have been redacted) and the fact that they each swore (upon penalty of perjury) that each body has only 45 employees – since 50 is the legal maximum – is being studiously ignored by all involved. (Scroll down here to see the redacted documents received by Judicial Watch from their FOIA request.)

Apparently, giving them a special waiver that goes through a small business exchange is just “small potatoes” as far as the Administration and legislators are concerned. In fact, Rand Paul (!) recently led four other Republican Senators in opposing a Senate committee’s subpoena to uncover who actually signed the perjured application. They joined together with nine Democrats so that Small Business Committee chairman Senator David Vitter’s motion to uncover the signers failed.

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On Tuesday March 24 I went to my ophthalmologist for my yearly eye exam. (My Dad lost sight in one eye because his optometrist failed to diagnose his glaucoma, so given that family history, I go to an ophthalmologist from Will’s Eye Hospital in Philadelphia.) I write this because when I approached the counter to […]

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Stop Making Everything Political, Please (cc: Starbucks)

 

On Tuesday, Starbucks unveiled their new #RaceTogether campaign.  From the press release:

“Each story, each voice, offered insight into the divisive role unconscious bias plays in our society and the role empathy can play to bridge those divides,” said Starbucks chairman and ceo Howard Schultz, in a free USA TODAY newspaper section that will be distributed in Starbucks stores beginning Friday and through the weekend.

What Justice Kennedy Got Wrong in the Obamacare Oral Arguments

 

In my new piece for Defining Ideas from the Hoover Institution, I’m taking readers through the Supreme Court’s oral arguments last week in the case of King v. Burwell, which will decide the fate of Obamacare subsidies in states that are serviced by a federal health insurance exchange. (I also covered this topic at length in Libertarian podcast with Troy Senik last week.) As I note there, perhaps the most inventive (and alarming) argument of the day came courtesy of Justice Anthony Kennedy:

In one sense the most novel argument of the day was an ill-thought-out suggestion by Justice Anthony Kennedy that the ACA might be unconstitutional if it were read to deny subsidies to health care policies purchased on the federal exchanges. Justice Kennedy never bothered to state whether his suggestion would require invalidation of the entire statute, or the creation of a massive subsidy that Congress itself had never authorized. There is, fortunately, no need to choose between these two unappetizing alternatives. Kennedy tossed off an argument that no one ever raised throughout the litigation: the denial of the federal subsidies would coerce individual states to set up exchanges in order to benefit their citizens.

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I went to my tax preparer today. These folks have their finger on the pulse of the government in a very different way from my everyday experience. Here are some highlights: Our refund went down this year because we are prospering more and planning better. I commented that I looked forward to the day when […]

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I came across this year-old article from ‘The New Republic’ magazine: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116105/dear-michael-moore-obamacare-first-step-toward-single-payer (The first comment has a clickable version of this link) Basically, it argues that the PPACA law creates a constituency and a rationale for a single-payer plan. I think he’s probably right, and therefore I wonder what Republicans can do to avert this. […]

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