Category Archive 'Obamacare'
22 Jul 2014

Halbig v. Burwell Will Free More Than 57 Million Americans From The ACA’s Individual & Employer Mandates

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Michael F. Cannon, writing in Forbes before today’s DC Circuit opinion, describes the significance of the court’s decision striking down Obamacare subsidies on federal exchanges.

Halbig is one of four lawsuits challenging the legality of the health-insurance subsidies the IRS is dispensing in the 36 states that did not establish a health-insurance Exchange under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or “ObamaCare,” and thus have Exchanges established by the federal government. Though the PPACA repeatedly states those subsidies are available only “through an Exchange established by the State,” and there are indications IRS officials knew they did not have the authority to issue subsidies through federal Exchanges, the IRS is dispensing billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies through federal Exchanges anyway. The Halbig plaintiffs are employers and individuals from six federal-Exchange states who are being injured by the IRS’s actions because those illegal subsidies trigger taxes against them under the PPACA’s employer and individual mandates. The plaintiffs want relief from those illegal taxes, and the only way to get it is to ask federal courts to put a stop to the illegal subsidies. Recent media coverage of Halbig, driven by one-sided blog posts from the consultant group Avalere Health and the left-leaning Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has misrepresented the impact of a potential ruling for the plaintiffs by ignoring three crucial facts: (1) a victory for the Halbig plaintiffs would increase no one’s premiums, (2) if federal-Exchange enrollees lose subsidies, it is because those subsidies are, and always were, illegal, and (3) the winners under such a ruling would outnumber the losers by more than ten to one.

Avalere Health’s Elizabeth Carpenter blogs, “nearly 5 million Americans would receive an average premium increase of 76 percent if the courts ultimately rule that consumers in the federal exchange cannot receive premium subsidies.” In another brief post, Linda Blumberg, John Holahan, and Matthew Buettgens of the Urban Institute estimate “7.3 million people, or about 62 percent of the 11.8 million people expected to enroll in federally facilitated marketplaces by 2016, could lose out on $36.1 billion in subsidies.” These brief analyses are either misleading or outright false, because they fail to note three crucial facts.

First, a victory for the Halbig plaintiffs would not increase anyone’s premiums. What it would do is prevent the IRS from shifting the burden of those premiums from enrollees to taxpayers. Premiums for federal-Exchange enrollees would not rise, but those enrollees would face the full cost of their “ObamaCare” plans.

Critics will respond that, as dozens of economists who filed an amicus brief on behalf of the government have predicted, a Halbig ruling would also cause the full premium to rise by unleashing adverse selection. This claim is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of Halbig and the PPACA. If a lack of subsidies in federal Exchanges leads to adverse selection, Halbig is not the cause. The cause is Congress tying those subsidies to state-established Exchanges, and 36 states refusing to cooperate. Halbig will not and cannot cause adverse selection. It merely asks the courts to apply the law as Congress enacted it.

Second, Avalere Health, the Urban Institute, and media outlets that have repeated their estimates typically neglect to mention that a victory for the plaintiffs would mean the second-highest court in the land ruled the Obama administration had no authority to issue those subsidies or impose the resulting taxes in the first place – that those taxes and subsidies are, and always were, illegal. Regardless of one’s position on the PPACA, we should all be able to agree that the president should not be allowed to tax and spend without congressional authorization. That’s what’s at stake in Halbig. It is why the Halbig cases are far more important than “ObamaCare.”

The termination of those subsidies and the taxes they trigger takes on an entirely different flavor when we introduce that small detail. …

[Which] doesn’t change the fact that 5 million people have been deeply wronged, it does clarify who wronged them: not the Halbig plaintiffs or a few judges, but a president who induced 5 million low- and middle-income Americans to enroll in overly expensive health plans with the promise of subsidies he had no authority to offer, and that could vanish with single court ruling.

Third, these reports and the ensuing media coverage uniformly neglect to mention that a victory for the Halbig plaintiffs would free not only those plaintiffs but tens of millions of Americans from the PPACA’s individual and employer mandates. Indeed, Halbig would free from potential illegal taxation more than ten times as many people as lose an illegal subsidy.

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And Jonathan H. Adler just reported the ruling striking down those subsidies in the Washington Post.

This morning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit released its much awaited opinion in Halbig v. Burwell. In a 2-1 opinion, the Court held that the Internal Revenue Service regulation authorizing tax credits in federal exchanges was invalid. Judge Griffith, writing for the court, concluded, “the ACA unambiguously restricts the section 36B subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges ‘established by the State.” In other words, the court reaffirmed the principle that the law is what Congress enacts — the text of the statute itself — and not the unexpressed intentions or hopes of legislators or a bill’s proponents.

02 Jul 2014

Some Salt in Liberals’ Hobby Lobby Wounds

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AngryLib
Angry Lib

Kevin D. Williamson rubs it in.

So, liberal friends and neighbors, how’s everybody liking their one-size-fits-all, federally dominated model of health care this week? A wee bit less than you were liking it Monday morning, I’d wager. I understand, completely: Most of my problems are of my own making, too, so no judgment, no gloating, no schadenfreude (okay, maybe just a taste — dang, that felt good!), because I understand how these mistakes get made. You’re naturally inclined to want to put government in charge of everything because you forget — wishful thinking, maybe? — that there are a whole lot of us knuckle-dragging right-wingers in the world, and, every now and then, we’re going to win one.

I’m trying to be charitable, here, but I really can’t see how you keep failing to learn that lesson. I remember the presidency of George W. Bush, which wasn’t that long ago, and you people went macadamias-and-almonds over a few signing statements. But then — poof! — you decided that the president could unilaterally amend federal legislation on the fly, set aside great swaths of it, and effectively have Congress deputize him to fill in the blanks on a half-finished piece of legislation passed in a frenzy. Now that that precedent has been established, I invite you to think of a Republican president in 2017 named Rick; you can pick your own surname, but I guarantee that you will not think of one that’s going to make you happy.

In the wake of the Hobby Lobby case, suddenly liberals are wising up to the fact that it’s kind of stupid to have your health insurance tied to your employer who may — get this — have a whole different set of financial incentives and values than you yourself have. That’s not just obvious — it’s John McCain obvious. I myself like Sarah Palin, but I know how you guys feel about her, so sit down for a minute and quietly chew over the fact that the guy who put Sarah Palin on the 2008 Republican ticket figured out that employer-based health insurance was a bad idea a long time before it started dawning on you guys. …

[I]f a lot of mostly voluntary participation is a good thing, then universal and mandatory participation is an excellent thing, thus the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. But progressives are so used to getting their way in court that they sometimes forget that there are other laws, and that some of them, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by a near-unanimous Congress and signed into law by Bill Clinton, are pretty plain. It’s hard to see how anybody familiar with both the English language and the text of the RFRA could have been surprised by the Hobby Lobby decision, but the Left was deliciously unhinged to such an extent that conservatives could very well have whiled away the afternoon mixing martinis out of their tears. (If that were the sort of people we were.) (Come to think of it . . . )

Read the whole thing.

24 Jun 2014

By Federal Law: Everyone Must Live Here

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pacific-heights
San Francisco: nice view, kind of pricey though.

Kevin D. Williamson considers the implications of applying the principles behind Obamacare more widely.

I have heard it argued that the San Francisco Bay Area is not only the nation’s but the world’s most desirable metropolis. I don’t buy that for a minute, but it’s not entirely implausible. There’s great natural beauty, and many of the world’s most creative people and institutions choose to make the area their home. It’s pricey by American standards but still a bargain by global standards. Like New York City in its golden age, it is a glorious collision between culture and money.

Let’s assume that the Bay Area partisans are correct in their high estimation of the metropolis. What might we do with that information? Why not pass a law requiring everybody in the United States to live there? As with the Affordable Care Act’s approach to health insurance, we wouldn’t be forcing an inferior product on people; we’d be forcing them to drop their second-rate cities for something better. Sorry, Cleveland — you can’t keep your crappy city, so deal with it. There would be some great economies of scale at work, and there are well-known economic benefits associated with population density, which we’d have in spades with a population of 300 million. (Though if we define the Bay Area broadly, we’d still have a lower population density than Manhattan, on average.) We could drop altogether thousands and thousands of redundancies — of school districts, police departments, fire departments, planning and zoning codes, tax laws, city councils. The rest of the country could be turned into farmland or left to revert to wilderness. Think of the efficiency we could achieve.

Once we’ve decided where everybody should live, we can move on to the question of what they should eat.

Read the whole thing.

24 May 2014

Dream That Failed

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eugenics

Noemie Emerie describes how the Progressive elite found the champion of their dreams, marched into power, but then wildly overreached.

They had a dream. For almost a hundred years now, the famed academic-artistic-and-punditry industrial complex has dreamed of a government run by their kind of people (i.e., nature’s noblemen), whose intelligence, wit, and refined sensibilities would bring us a heaven on earth. Their keen intellects would cut through the clutter as mere mortals’ couldn’t. They would lift up the wretched, oppressed by cruel forces. Above all, they would counter the greed of the merchants, the limited views of the business community, and the ignorance of the conformist and dim middle class.

Out of sorts and out of office after 1828, when power passed from the Adamses to the children of burghers and immigrants, they had begun to strike back by the 1920s, led by the likes of George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, H. L. Mencken, Herbert Croly, and Sinclair Lewis. Their stock in trade was their belief in themselves, and their contempt for the way the middle class thought, lived, and made and spent money: Commerce was crude, consumption was vulgar, and industry, which employed millions and improved the lives of many more people, too gross and/or grubby for words. “For the American critics of mass culture, it was the good times of the 1920s, not the depression of the 1930s, that proved terrifying,” says Fred Siegel, whose book The Revolt Against the Masses describes and eviscerates this group and its aspirations. In their dream world, “intellectuals, as well as poet-leaders, experts, and social scientists such as themselves would lead the regime,” as Siegel tells us. “It was thus a crucial imperative to constrain the conventional and often corrupt politics of middle-class capitalists so that these far-seeing leaders might obtain the recognition and power that was only their due.” …

[T]he elites had to wait for the man of their dreams.

When they found him, he was a rare breed: a genuine African American (his father was Kenyan) who thought and talked like the academics on both sides of his family, a product of the faculty lounge who dabbled in urban/race politics, a man who could speak to both ends of the liberals’ up-and-down coalition, and a would-be transformer of our public life whose quiet voice and low-key demeanor conveyed “moderation” in all that he spoke and did. Best of all, he was the person whom the two branches of the liberal kingdom—the academics and journalists—wanted to be, a man who shared their sensibilities and their views of the good and the beautiful. This was the chance of a lifetime to shape the world to their measure. He and they were the ones they were waiting for, and with him, they longed for transcendent achievements. But in the event they were undone by the three things Siegel had pegged as their signature weaknesses: They had too much belief in the brilliance of experts, they were completely dismissive of public opinion, and they had a contempt for the great middle class.

From the beginning, they made it clear that the Obama regime would be different from all others that had come before. The damaged economy was the critical issue, but the creation of jobs took a back seat to boutique left-wing causes. The stimulus, costing more than a trillion dollars, came and went leaving nothing behind it, unlike the spending of FDR’s era, which at least for a while gave jobs to real people, and left behind things like bridges and dams and parks. “Climate change” had become an obsession, symbolized by the refusal to act on the Keystone pipeline proposal, which would have created jobs in Middle America, but which Obama’s Hollywood backers denounced as unclean.

But nothing did so much as the historic, transcendent health care proposal to contradict David Brooks’s contention, in the summer of 2009, that the president “sees himself as a Burkean” and “understands complexity and the organic nature of change.” Social Security had been large, but made no change in the structure of government, and the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 (signed by Bill Clinton at the Republicans’ urging) was based on successful experiments at the state level conducted by governors of both parties. The Affordable Care Act looked for advice to academics, not governors, and proposed the state takeover of an industrial complex responsible for one-sixth of the gross national product based not on what had been proved to work through experience, but on what some intellectuals had guessed might work. If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, this camel was a 2,801-page non-bestseller filled with labyrinthine riddles that nobody seemed to know how to solve. To insure approximately 18 million out of 300-plus million Americans (they confessed the plan would still leave 20 million uninsured), they proposed to spend trillions on a reengineering of the entire system that would in time cause 80 to 100 million of the currently insured to lose and to seek new insurance.

Read the whole thing.

23 Apr 2014

Evidence of Decline

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WWIIProduction

Rare:

During the 3 1/2 years of U.S. involvement, here’s what we manufactured:

8 battleships, 22 aircraft carriers, 48 cruisers, 349 destroyers, 420 destroyer escorts, 203 submarines, 4 million tons of merchant ships, 100,000 fighters, 98,000 bombers, 24,000 transport aircraft, 58,000 training aircraft, 93,000 tanks, 257,000 artillery pieces, 105,000 mortars, 3,000,000 machine guns, 2.5 mil military trucks 16.1 million men in uniform, and we developed the atomic bomb.

Simply astounding.

“During this same period of time, three and a half years, it should be noted that Obama couldn’t put together a functioning website,” Neal Boortz commented.

12 Apr 2014

Hamilton Corner Sign Says

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The “Hamilton Corner” sign – otherwise known as the “Uncle Sam” sign is located ln Lewis County, Washinton, along side exit 72 on the I-5 corridor mid-way between Seattle and Portland.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

02 Apr 2014

How Much It Cost For Each Obamacare Enrollee

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Darrel Issa posted this chart on his Facebook page yesterday.

02 Apr 2014

“A Phony Number, and Wonderfully Precise”

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Krauthammer discusses Obamacare sign-up numbers on Fox News. link (Embeded video had unremovable autoplay.)

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The Daily Mail is not buying it.

A triumphant President Barack Obama declared Tuesday his signature medical insurance overhaul a success, saying it has made America’s health care system ‘a lot better’ in a Rose Garden press conference.

But buried in the 7.1 million enrollments he announced in a heavily staged appearance is a more unsettling reality.

Numbers from a RAND Corporation study that has been kept under wraps suggest that barely 858,000 previously uninsured Americans – nowhere near 7.1 million – have paid for new policies and joined the ranks of the insured by Monday night.

20 Mar 2014

Millennials & Obamacare

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Hat tip to Theo.

13 Mar 2014

(Jim Geraghty:) “The Individual Mandate Is Just Resting. It’s Pining for the Fjords!”

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Scandinaveus caeruleus

Dick Morris gloatingly notes that HHS has quietly essentially repealed the individual mandate, Obamacare’s single most controversial feature.

In a policy retreat that is little-known and virtually uncovered in media circles (except for the Wall Street Journal), the Obama administration has effectively postponed, for three years, any requirement that those whose health care policies were canceled or will be canceled from having to buy health insurance.

This regulatory decision, coupled with the delays granted to employers large and small in the mandate that they cover their workers, so truncates Obamacare as to amount to its a virtual repeal.

Specifically, by delaying the individual mandate for three years, Obama has given the GOP everything it sought in its abortive government shutdown in October 2013.

Now, those whose health care policies were canceled can opt out of the individual mandate — and not pay the fine for being uncovered — simply by checking a box on the form.

Under the new rules, according to the Wall Street Journal, “all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was canceled and that you ‘believe that the plan options available in the [Obamacare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your canceled health insurance policy’ or ‘you consider other available policies unaffordable.’

You can even opt out of the requirement to buy new insurance if “you experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance.” Documentation? The regulation only requires that you provide it “if possible.”

Effectively, this means that anyone who wants an exemption from Obamacare who previously had a policy that was canceled can get one simply by asking for it. No proof. No documentation.

The policy retreat is the latest in a series of administration attempts to backpedal on the law and its requirements as their reality dawns on voters in swing states and on Democratic senators trying to entice them to back their re-election.

The previous step back was an announcement last week that the one-year moratorium on cancellations would be extended to three years, effectively pushing it out past the 2016 elections. …

Altogether, the retreat of this president from the enforcement of his signature program is breathtaking and can only be summed up as a repeal, or postponement of the bulk of the Obamacare law’s provisions.

Can Obama repeal and postpone his way to keeping a Senate majority in the fall? We’ll see.

11 Mar 2014

Time to Apply Sanctions

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10 Feb 2014

Obamacare Death Panel

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07 Feb 2014

Obamacare Ethnicity & Race Questionaire

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There are no WASPs, Micks, Wops, Hillbillies, Pennsylvania Dutch, or Pollacks, but there are sure a helluva lot of varieties of Hispanic “ethnicity,” including such well know ethnic categories as “Balearic Islander,” “Canal Zone” (!), and “Criollo.”

“Hey! I’m Lithuanian, what are you, man?” “I’m a Canal Zone.”

Neither is one restricted to being merely Mexican. No, no, no, you have the choice of being “Mexican”, “Mexican American,” or “Mexican American Indian,” and if you really want to be in-your-face Mexican, why, you can be ethnically “La Raza.”

As one reads on and on, one begins to wonder how categories like “Don Quixote,” “Zorro,” and “El Cid” came to be overlooked.

There is no ethnicity for those of us in the non-bean-eating component of the population, but we do get taken care of in the next portion of the document. There we are, under Race: “White/Caucasion,” right in there with such other great races as the Chuukese, the Iwo Jimans, the Singaporeans, and the Yapese.

The principles employed to confer specific recognition are obviously mysterious and elusive. The Hong Kong-ese are shit out of luck, while the multi-ethnic residents of Singapore get to leap the boundaries of conventional racial categories to become Singaporean. Can this possibly be based on the sad history of American discrimination in favor of Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine over Singaporean curries?

Every archipelago and lagoon in the South Pacific, including Iwo Jima which lacks native inhabitants, has been awarded individual racial status, while so few categories of Asian “races” are deemed to exist. The Nepalese are there, but not the Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Kirghiz, Mongols, and so on.

What, the inquiring mind wants to know, did we ever do to people from Yap?

Via Dan Greenfield at Front page.

06 Feb 2014

If Coffee was Like Obamacare

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Hat tip to Vanderleun.

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