Category Archives: Health care reform

Obamacare as the Latest Backstop in the Debt Limit Debate

Growing numbers of Republicans in Congress are setting their sights on Obamacare as a new target in looming fiscal showdowns this autumn over government funding and the debt limit.

Several Republicans are pledging to oppose a stopgap government spending Bill that will be needed by October 1 unless it withholds funds from the implementation of ACA, especially its core requirement that uninsured Americans obtain health coverage.

Blockage of the funding measure could lead to a shutdown of government agencies, roiling financial markets.

The latest effort to use the Budget to undermine the ACA comes during a new Republican assault on the law after a recent decision by the White House to delay for a year a key requirement that larger employers offer health coverage.

The administration is pressing ahead with the individual mandate and the October 1 launch of online health insurance Exchanges, which is only adding to the anxiety.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio implored his Senate colleagues to use the widely expected short-term spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, to “put the brakes on this terrible mistake.”

“Don’t come here and say, ‘I’m against Obamacare’ if you’re willing to vote for a budget that funds it. If you pay for it, you own it,” said Rubio, who was elected in Florida in 2010 during a wave of negative sentiment toward the health reforms.

A fellow Republican, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, also capitalized on the latest flare-up of Republican anger at the healthcare reforms by introducing legislation to de-fund them permanently. He likely will seek to move the measure as an amendment to the funding Bill.

DISCUSSIONS ON DEFUNDING

Although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is one of 17 co-sponsors for Cruz’s Bill, he has not weighed in on the specific merits of holding hostage government agencies or the debt limit increase over healthcare funding.

“Republicans will absolutely have a discussion about defunding Obamacare this fall. They are still discussing how to go about that,” said a senior Senate Republican aide.

In the House, there is little consensus among Republicans over what to demand from Obama and his Democrats in exchange for a short-term funding Bill and an increase in the $16.7 trillion debt limit, which will likely be needed in November.

While much of the discussion has surrounded tax reform and cuts to the Medicare and Social Security benefits programs for the elderly, Obamacare funding is quickly gaining prominence in the list of demands.

“There’s a growing group in the House that is retraining its focus to Obamacare,” said Representative Mick Mulvaney, a conservative Republican from South Carolina.

“It is completely appropriate to use the debt ceiling or the CR to ask for some changes that reduce the burdens of this law on Americans,” he said.

Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, vowed to fight efforts by Republicans to stall Obamacare, saying: “Health reform is working. It is the law of our land, and Democrats will continue to make sure that the clock is not turned back.”

Easy enough to say for a guy who has been handed free Government benefits for years.

Obama’s Lawyer: Don’t Like the Individual Mandate? Just Make Less Money

In what can only be described as an incredulous turn of events, the Obama administration has gone from arguing “it’s a tax” to “make less money” in its effort to stave off legal challenges to the healthcare reform law.

Originally, the administration had tried to argue that the penalty for not purchasing individual coverage was just a tax, and as such, clearly met constitutional muster under the Taxing Clause.  But that argument has seen its better day, especially after being shredded apart by one lone Federal Judge in Florida.

Noting that the purchase requirement only kicks in after a minimal amount of income, acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal suggested to a Sixth Circuit panel that the way around the mandate simply is to make less money.  In most cases, a LOT LESS money.  Since even an hourly employee at McDonald’s would presumably make too much to avoid the mandate, most people would not make enough money to buy weekly groceries if they wanted to ensure that their income would not trigger the mandate.

This shows how desperate the administration is to salvage this mess – at any cost.  Instead of going back to the table and finding workable solutions with Republicans, the Democrats have held steady while their ship sinks deeper and deeper in the troubled legal waters.

As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, we all had better hope that the court system shuts the door on this silly idea that the Government can force people to buy individual products or services from private companies.  Otherwise, we may all be forced to buy broccoli – if the Government says we must.

Our legal system has all but eradicated the 10th Amendment.  Hopefully, the Tenth can regain some footing during this process.

CDR

McDonald’s plays chicken-nuggets with the Goverment over mini-meds

Perhaps you have heard the story about McDonald’s threatening to cancel one of its limited benefit health plans.  As I understand it, this plan costs participating employees only about $500 a year in premium contributions (about $35 to $40 per month) but the kicker is that the plan maxes out its benefits at $2,000.  To the extent my understanding is accurate, employees are paying 25% of the maximum benefit in premiums – which is steep.  But, to be fair, those plans tend to pay benefits right away without having to go through large deductibles, etc.  There’s a reason the cost is so steep – they are highly utilized.

When the Government informed McDonald’s that this type of health plan was no longer valid, McDonald’s responded by threatening to cancel the coverage altogether.  In response, the Government (via Secretary Sebelius) blinked and allowed McDonald’s to have a waiver which effectively allows them to continue the sub-par coverage for at least a year.  To date over 100 other large companies – AND UNIONS – have filed for and been granted the same types of waivers for health plans that do not meet the definition of acceptable coverage under Obamacare.

Whether it’s a good idea for McDonald’s to offer such coverage is beyond the scope of this post.  Instead, my point is to highlight the bigger picture, which is, that everyone is having their “right-to-choose” taken away from them by the Government.  And you thought the Democrats were the “right-to-choose” party, right?  Guess again.  Nothing like Obamacare to make it clear – they think they know what is best for you and by golly you are going to like it.

Granted, healthcare costs are getting higher and higher.  Affordable premiums are a thing of the past.  Nevertheless, the Government is forcing people into Cadillac health plans – they are forcing people to pay higher and higher premiums, and they are doing it on purpose.

Once Obamacare kicks into full force in 2014, you will no longer have the right to purchase limited benefit plans of any kind.  This includes the “mini-med” plans like McDonald’s offers but it also includes full coverage plans that happen to have high deductibles – like really high (higher than HSA-qualified levels).  For example, you will not be able to buy a $25,000 deductible plan that pays 100% after the deductible – because the  Government says the deductible is too high.  Never mind the premiums – the deductible is too high.  Common sense would dictate that the limited number of folks opting for those types of plans would be in a better position to know whether they can afford the higher deductible.  The Government thinks their sense should take precedence.

Want your freedom of choice returned?  Urge your representative and senators to repeal Obamacare.  When your Democratic representatives and Senators balk – throw the “right-to-choose” back in their face by asking:  “I thought you supported the right to choose.”