March 29, 2015
Everything in the legislative history that sheds light on what Congress intended supports the plain meaning of the language limiting premium subsidies to those who obtain coverage “through an Exchange established by the State.”
- The lead author of the ACA, then-Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., had proposed — and even gotten Congress to enact — other health-insurance tax credits and subsidies that were conditioned on states taking certain actions.
- Senate Democrats similarly considered letting individual states opt out of the Democrats’ cherished “public option.”
- Congressional Democrats considered other bills in 2009 that explicitly did authorize subsidies in federal exchanges. But they discarded that language in favor of the ACA’s approach.
- More than a dozen Senate Democrats championed a bill that explicitly conditioned exchange subsidies on states implementing that bill’s employer mandate. Those senators discarded that condition in favor of the ACA’s approach of explicitly conditioning premium subsidies on states implementing exchanges.
- Eleven House Democrats from Texas recognized and even complained that states could prevent their residents from receiving “any benefit” under the ACA, including premium subsidies, simply by refusing to establish exchanges. In early January 2010, they pleaded for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama to support one of the bills that explicitly authorized subsidies in federal exchanges. Yet all 11 of them ended up voting for the ACA, despite their reservations.
- One of the ACA’s architects and a paid consultant to the Obama administration, Massachusetts Institute of Technology health economist Jonathan Gruber, repeatedly described the ACA by saying: “If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.”
via Why the Supreme Court will overrule the IRS – Richmond.com: Guest-columnists.
March 21, 2015
Rep. Paul Ryan urged state lawmakers to resist setting up state insurance exchanges if the Supreme Court rules that key parts of the Affordable Care Act can only continue if they do so.
“Oh God, no…The last thing anybody in my opinion would want to do, even if you are not a conservative, is consign your state to this law,” the Wisconsin Republican told state legislators Thursday during a conference call organized by the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think-tank. The foundation provided a recording of the call.
via Paul Ryan Urges State Lawmakers Not to Set Up Health-Insurance Exchanges – WSJ.
March 16, 2015
Something odd has been happening with the Supreme Court battle over the legality of subsidies for Obamacare’s federally-organized health insurance exchange. The Obama administration has been claiming—beyond credulity—that it has no “Plan B” should the Court side with the administration’s challengers. “We don’t have an administrative action that we believe can undo the damage,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell at a recent Congressional hearing. But contrary to those claims, sources familiar with HHS’ thinking say that the agency does, indeed, hope it has a way around the Court and the law.
via Sources: HHS’ Obamacare Contingency Plan Is To Ask States To Contract Exchange Work To The Feds.
March 9, 2015
The Supreme Court has weighed in on the lawsuit Notre Dame filed against the HHS mandate compelling religious groups and businesses to pay for drugs for their employees that may cause abortions.
After a lower court dismissed the lawsuit, today the Supreme Court ordered the lower court to reconsider its ruling that denied a Catholic university the freedom to follow its faith.
Previously, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Miller Jr. dismissed the suit, claiming that Notre Dame is sufficiently protected by a very narrowly-drawn religious exemption in the mandate — that pro-life legal groups say does not apply to every religious entity. In appealing that decision, the University of Notre Dame brought its request to the Supreme Court — saying the lower court decision made it the only nonprofit religious ministry in the nation without protection from the HHS mandate.
via Supreme Court Says Obama Admin Can’t Make Notre Dame Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate | LifeNews.com.
March 7, 2015
Alito indicated that the Court might stay its ruling in King v. Burwell through the 2015 tax year. In that case, Congress would still need to decide what to do about the 2016 tax year. In the spring of 2015, insurance companies will have to start filing their proposed premiums for 2016 with the various state insurance commissioners. They won’t be able to accurately price these products without knowing the role of subsidies in 2016.
Hence, if Alito’s idea prevails, the short-term disruption would be mitigated, but the mid-term disruption could still be a possibility.
via Did Samuel Alito Throw Republicans An Obamacare Lifeline At The Supreme Court?.
March 6, 2015
Having the crisis play out in early 2016 rather than the summer of 2015, could mean that Republican members of Congress would take a harder line position. Voters, after all, would be paying more attention to politics given the presidential race. Any Republican who votes to restore the subsidies could risk a primary challenge from an opponent portraying this as a vote to expand Obamacare.
On the other hand, the later timeframe could make the risk-averse Republican Congressional leadership more eager to cut a deal, rather than have a bruising fight spill into a crucial election year for which they have high hopes.
Whatever the case ends up being, for now all we can say is that Alito introduced another wildcard that will keep us guessing until the Court announces its decision.
via Alito's wildcard could shape 2016 | WashingtonExaminer.com.
March 6, 2015
Sasse’s proposal is helpful to the cause of repeal in a number of ways:
First, it takes pressure off of Republican governors and state legislators, many of whom, in the absence of a proposal along these lines, could reliably be counted upon to cave and set up state-based Obamacare exchanges. Such state-based exchanges would prevent people from being left high and dry as a result of a Supreme Court ruling that the Obama administration has been lawlessly paying out the subsidies (through federal exchanges) on which these people are counting. But setting up such state-based exchanges would entail a massive Republican expansion of Obamacare that must be avoided. Sasse’s proposal helps to avoid that.
Second, it wouldn’t “fix” Obamacare. It makes no effort to reform it or make it more market-based. It offers tax credits apart from it to help transition people off of it.
Third, it helps remove the temptation for Republican congressional leaders to negotiate “fixes” to Obamacare with Obama. Such “fixes” are the likely price that congressional leadership would demand in exchange for turning Obamacare’s subsidies back on. But Republicans shouldn’t be in the businesses of “fixing” Obamacare; they should be in the business of repealing it and replacing it with a conservative alternative. Negotiating “fixes” is the worst thing they could do — far worse than turning the subsidies back on temporarily in exchange for nothing. Sasse’s bill helps prevent the “fix it” caucus from taking the lead.
via Sasse Steps Up | The Weekly Standard.