If the government loses in a major Obamacare challenge before the Supreme Court, it will result in premium increases of up to 700 percent for nearly 8 million people, a new analysis claims.
The analysis from think tank Avalere Health was released Thursday as the Obama administration continues to take heat from Congress for having no backup plan in case the Supreme Court ruling in King v. Burwell doesn’t go their way. Oral arguments are set to start on Wednesday for the case, which has the potential to cripple the healthcare law.
The case challenges the government’s authority to dole out subsidies to the 37 states with federal-run exchanges. Plaintiffs say the Affordable Care Act specifically only allows for states that set up their own exchanges to receive subsidies, while the government says the plaintiffs are misinterpreting the law.
If the subsidies are illegal, average monthly premium contributions for about 7.5 million people could increase between 122 and 774 percent, depending on the state, according to Avalere.
Residents in Alaska and Mississippi would have the highest increases, the think tank said.
Category Archives: The Supremes
On Jan. 23, U.S. District Judge Callie Granade ruled that Alabama laws limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman violated the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection of the law. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange petitioned the Supreme Court to prevent the judge’s decision from going into effect until the Supreme Court itself issued its ruling on same-sex marriage–which the court will do this term.
The Supreme Court refused to stay the lower court ruling–with Justice Thomas and Scalia dissenting.
In his dissent from the court’s refusal to grant the stay, Justice Thomas rhetorically smacked his colleagues for disregarding it own standard practices and the deference due to state governments and voters.
“This acquiescence [in the lower court ruling] may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of that question [of same-sex marriage],” wrote Thomas.
“This is not the proper way to discharge our Article III responsibilities,” he said. “And, it is indecorous for this Court to pretend that it is. Today’s decision represents yet another example of this Court’s increasingly cavalier attitude toward the States. Over the past few months, the Court has repeatedly denied stays of lower court judgments enjoining the enforcement of state laws on questionable constitutional grounds.
“It has similarly declined to grant certiorari to review such judgments without any regard for the people who approved those laws in popular referendums or elected the representatives who voted for them,” wrote Thomas. “In this case, the Court refuses even to grant a temporary stay when it will resolve the issue at hand in several months.”
President Barack Obama’s much-touted 8 million Obamacare enrollment number was inflated by 1.3 million, the Obama administration now admits.
“The mistake we made is unacceptable,” tweeted Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “I will be communicating that clearly throughout the department.”
Burwell, now under fire for the inflated figures, says the Obama administration counted nearly 400,000 dental plan subscribers as health insurance customers to boost the figures. In September, HHS admitted Obama’s oft-cited eight million enrollment figure was inflated by 700,000 and was really 7.3 million.
Burwell conceded Americans may remain “skeptical” about the Obama administration’s numbers but said she hopes “our clarity that this is a mistake and the fact that we have quickly corrected the numbers should give people confidence.”
A few days ago, Ricochet’s John Yoo predicted that Supreme Court will decide that the PPACA (Obamacare) does not allow for the federal exchanges to pay out subsidies in the upcoming King v Burwell case. Although I am a legal ignoramus, I have been following the excellent symposium on this case over at SCOTUSblog, and I wonder whether we might see an unexpected result here.
Based on the evidence from both sides, two points become clear. There is indeed no explicit passage in the law that mandates the federal subsidies, as exists for state exchanges. Still, there are a number of passages which make no sense if the federal exchanges are forbidden from paying out subsidies. More to the point, the law is so inconsistent and muddled that a good-faith argument could be made that it is simply ambiguous and incoherent on this issue; if so, the IRS will have the authority to come up with its own interpretation (the so-called Chevron deference).
It’s also worth considering the issue from the Court’s perspective. Roberts obviously prefers legislative fixes to judicial ones, and wants to preserve the public’s faith in the Court and the judiciary. Yet, if the Supreme Court rules completely against the government in King v Burwell — option a from above — the ruling will become the left’s Roe v Wade for the next generation: their textbook example of judicial overreach.
I imagine everyone on Ricochet would be perfectly content if the Supreme Court gave Obamacare a coup de grace, regardless of the political fallout. But from the standpoint of good governance, this should be determined by elected officials chosen directly by the people.
Giving the president explicit authority to decide on these subsidies would likely turn the next presidential election into a referendum on Obamacare. If the bill is truly as unpopular as polls suggest, a Republican candidate running on a platform of eliminating federal subsidies (which would almost inevitably lead to the unravelling of the entire law) should be a shoo-in. And given the difficulty for Republicans to win 60 Senate seats, it would provide voters an unprecedented and historic opportunity to roll back an entitlement program at the ballot box.
How do the Chinese figure in all this? Since they break into practically every computer we own, we can assume they also read our newspapers and watch Fox News (maybe even MSNBC, Heaven help them). Besides Obama’s being a lame duck who was clobbered in the last election, they are fully aware of his myriad lies and prevarications from “If like your plan…” to red lines in Syria. No one trusts him, even members of his own party.
The Chinese therefore know any deal with Obama is just for show, meaningless. But to make doubly sure, they arranged for the language in the agreement to say “intend” to reduce their emissions by such-and-such by 2020 — “intend,” the mother of all wiggle words. (I “intend” to win the Oscar in 2016, even though I have not written the script yet.) Actually, the Chinese, as usual, did a brilliant job of using Obama for their own propaganda, knowing full well that he was desperate to be back in the news for something positive, preferably as far from D.C. as possible.
So, as I said, Mitch McConnell should relax. Not that he shouldn’t oppose the deal, but in the end this will be the least of his problems. Obama is only making a fool of himself, at least in the eyes of the Chinese and probably most people who see the reality of the situation.
But not as a big a fool as Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor and putative architect of Obamacare, who has been caught on three videos explaining why it was necessary to overcomplicate and lie about the Affordable Care Act in order to pass it. (At least he read it. I doubt Obama did and I know Pelosi didn’t.) Besides the professor’s sleazy Gramscian elitism that doesn’t do much for the reputation of MIT, Gruber has something unconscious and disconnected about him that suggests a personality disorder. He doesn’t seem to quite get why people might be upset that his deliberate obscurantism completely undermines democracy and the founding documents of our country. After all, he means well. (The ends justify the means meets Asperger Syndrome)
A federal judge upheld Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriages on Wednesday, a rare loss for gay marriage supporters who had won more than 20 consecutive rulings overturning bans in other states. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman also upheld the state’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states. His ruling was the first to uphold a state ban since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year. In 2004, 78 percent of Louisiana voters approved an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage. Gay marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
Feldman said gay marriage supporters failed to prove that ban violates equal protection or due process provisions of the U.S. Constitution. He also rejected an argument that the ban violated the First Amendment by effectively forcing legally married gay couples to state that they are single on Louisiana income tax returns. Feldman sided with the state, which had argued that the nation’s high court, in the Defense of Marriage Act decision, recognized the rights of state voters and legislatures to define marriage. Gay marriage supporters vowed to appeal. They had argued that the ban violated constitutional due process and equal-protection rights.
The Obama administration on Tuesday will publish a proposed rule that would give thousands of temporary and seasonal government workers access to the government’s health care program, even though Obamacare explicitly prohibits them from using that program.
The rule from the Office of Personnel Management would let these federal workers sign up for coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and also allow some of them to enjoy a government contribution to their insurance premiums. Both steps would be done through OPM’s proposed regulation, and not through an act of Congress.
As passed by Congress, Obama set up rules governing which federal workers are eligible to enroll in an FEHB plan, and which cannot. For example, temporary federal workers with less than a year of service can’t enroll in FEHB.
Seasonal employees working six months or less are also prohibited, as are many intermittent employees. And temporary workers with more than a year of service can sign up, but get no government contribution.
OPM’s rule would change all that:
“This proposed rule would allow newly eligible employees (employees on an appointment limited to one year and employees working on a seasonal or intermittent schedule) to initially enroll under the FEHB program with a government contribution to premium if they are expected to be employed on a full-time schedule and are expected to work for at least 90 days,” the proposed rule states.
It would also let temporary employees with more than a year of service “to enroll in a FEBH plan… (with a government contribution to premium) if the employee is determined by his or her employing office to be newly eligible for FEHB coverage under this regulation.”
Republicans have argued for years that the Obama administration has improperly implemented Obamacare by creating various delays and taking other liberties that are not provided by the health care law. That frustration is prompting House GOP leaders to pursue a law suit against the administration.
Several major gay rights groups withdrew support Tuesday for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would bolster gay and transgender rights in the workplace, saying they fear that broad religious exemptions included in the current bill might compel private companies to begin citing objections similar to those that prevailed in a U.S. Supreme Court case last week.
The gay community is a key constituency and source of campaign donations for Democrats, and calls to rewrite the most significant gay rights legislation considered in recent years is a major setback for the White House, which had used passage of the legislation last fall as a way to draw a contrast with House Republicans, who have refused to vote on the measure.
But the groups said they can no longer back ENDA as currently written in light of the Supreme Court’s decision last week to strike down a key part of President Obama’s health-care law. The court ruled that family-owned businesses do not have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage that conflicts with the owners’ religious beliefs.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s true if she says it over and over, it’s not true, just don’t believe that, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” [Megyn Kelly speaking of Sandra Fluke]
“So it’s a lot of corporations that could be affected, but only those who feel strongly about their religious beliefs,” Kelly explained. “Those folks aren’t going to have to provide abortion-related drugs: drugs that terminate an already-fertilized egg. That’s the only — out of 20 birth-control drugs that are available, they still have to cover 16. They just said we don’t want to fund those forms of birth control that end a fertilized egg.”
She charged on, focusing on former United States Secretary of Health And Human Services Kathleen Sebelius: American women “were buying their own [birth control]; for the past 20 years and beyond, they’ve been buying their own. And then what happened was we passed Obamacare. And then Kathleen Sebelius had some of her HHS minions go down in the basement and write a regulation that said as part of Obamacare, you have to cover 20 out of 20 birth-control drugs — 20 out of 20. And then women like Sandra Fluke started saying, ‘I’m entitled. Oh my God, I didn’t realize how victimized I was all those years when I was paying for it on my own.’”
“And Hobby Lobby, which is an evangelical company, came out and said, ‘Alright, we’ll do it, we’ll do it for all of it except four that end a fertilized egg,’ going forward” Kelly said.
“The Supreme Court said, ‘You’re right,’” Kelly concluded. “This [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] law passed by President [Bill] Clinton, that all those Democrats who are now rejecting signed on to — also voted for — that law protects you, Hobby Lobby, and Kathleen Sebelius’s minions in the basement don’t get to take your rights away from you.”