ObamaCare

ObamaCare’s “Family Glitch” Exposed

Obama signs ObamaCare

Let’s put aside for a minute that ObamaCare is unconstitutional, adds $6.2 trillion in debt, piles on countless new taxes, and has already racked up $31 billion and 71.5 million hours in regulatory compliance costs.  Yes, that’s a lot to put aside.  But for just a moment assume the role of a liberal with an entitlement mentality.  For a law with enormous riches and political capital invested in it, wouldn’t you expect it to at least function on its most basic level consistent with its namesake?  In other words, you would expect for the Affordable Care Act to provide affordable coverage.

The latest of ObamaCare’s fundamental flaws to be euphemistically reported as a “glitch” that needs to be “tweaked” is its failure to provide affordable family coverage for a broad group of employees.  As a result, Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 3.9 million family dependents may not be able to afford employer-sponsored family coverage or receive subsidized coverage on an ObamaCare exchange.

Understanding the family glitch requires a quick primer on the byzantine regulatory structure governing Obamacare’s subsidies:

Conservatism Is Very Much Alive

AJ Delgado had a piece in Mediaite last weekend asking whether conservatism was dead or not. She cites three major policy “defeats” as she sees them for conservatism this month.

1) Immigration reform is all but a foregone conclusion.

2) The gay marriage debate is essentially over.

3) The plan to defund ObamaCare — conservatives’ last stand after the Supreme Court failed to throw out the Act — is over

I think Miss Delgado misses a lot in construing all of these as catastrophic defeats for conservatives. A look at each issue on its own shows that it is not as catastrophic as it first appears.

Firstly, I wouldn’t put my money on comprehensive immigration reform becoming law. After Rand Paul outlined his position on the issue last week, he has been very careful to walk back certain aspects of it. Plus, the GOP House has shown exactly no interest in this issue. Finally, this is an issue that divides Democrats as well. Blue collar unions, African Americans, and many environmentalists want to kill immigration reform as well for their own reasons.

As for gay marriage, this is probably her strongest argument. Yes the gay marriage is over. It will become the law of the land in every state in the country within 20 years, if that. What conservatives need to is rebrand on this issue. What conservatives need to fight for on this issue is to make sure adequate religious liberty and conscience protections are in place for churches, businesses, adoption agencies and others opposed to gay marriage.

ObamaCare Could Cause Your Premiums to Double in 2014

Thanks to ObamaCare, you’re going to be paying more for your health insurance in 2014 - a lot more.  According to health insurers, the provisions of the law that roll out next year could cause premiums to take a massive jump - up to doubling for some people. According to the Washington Post, the hardest hit will be those who buy their insurance on their own, and some small business:

…the biggest price hikes are expected to hit a group that represents a relatively small slice of the insured population. That includes some of the roughly 14 million people who buy their own insurance as opposed to being covered under employer-sponsored plans, and to a lesser extent, some employees of smaller companies.

Those of us with any sense have long predicted this would be the case. The law is expressly designed to make premiums higher for the healthy in order to make them lower for the unhealthy.  This is literally the exact opposite of what “insurance” is supposed to do.  Instead of charging based on an assessment of the insuree’s risk of incurring expensive costs, premiums will now be shifted in order to be more “fair”.  Meanwhile, the taxpayer will be stuck with the bill for the subsidies given to help people afford these higher premiums.

Needless to say, this will have significant impact on the economy which is already not in great shape.  And not much can really be done now.  ObamaCare is here to stay for now, despite some Republicans’ efforts to repeal it.  The law remains unpopular, but repeal is not going to happen now, and such efforts are a waste of time.

Chatting with Igor Birman

Igor Birman

“I think the impressionable libertarian kids are going to save our nation.” — Igor Birman

Late last year, I ran across video of Igor Birman, who immigrated to the United States with his family as the Soviet Union was collapsing, warning against a more centralized government healthcare system. Birman, who now serves as Chief of Staff to Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), was explaining that the Soviet system relied on rationing of healthcare, which would be the end result of ObamaCare.

Earlier this week, I had the chance to sit down with Birman to discuss his story, the transformation of the United States into a police state, ObamaCare, the budget, and other destructive economic policies that are being pushed by the White House.

When asked about the recent filibuster in the Senate, Birman applauded Sen. Rand Paul and noted that it was refreshing to hear a politician be so passionate. He also compared the policies implemented as part of the “war on terror”  to life in the Soviet Union, where the government frequently searched homes of ordinary citizens without cause, which he called a “fact of life,” noting that “you just accepted it as much as you did the cold weather and the long lines for the basic staples of food and water.”

Birman experienced this first-hand. “A week before we left for the United States, we went to say goodbye to my uncle in St. Petersburg and when we came back, we found our apartment just absolutely ravaged,” recalled Birman. “The authorities must have been looking for whatever lame excuse they could find to either delay or disrupt our departure.”

Ted Cruz and Mike Lee Revive Efforts to Defund ObamaCare

 FreedomWorks

Remember when Republicans took control of the House in the 2010 election by riding the anti-ObamaCare wave and pledging to repeal and/or defund it?  What happened to that?

As I wrote last week, the repeal efforts have largely fizzled.  Then on Wednesday, the House again voted for a CR that doesn’t even touch the funding for ObamaCare.  The bill (HR 933, dubbed the “Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013,” would extend federal government funding beyond March 27 through the end of FY 2013 on September 30, 2013.  Congratulations to the Boehner/Cantor/McCarthy gang for refusing to use the House’s power to originate appropriations bills to any meaningful effect.

The CR passed despite valiant effort by  Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and Re. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) to encourage Boehner and Cantor to support the defunding efforts.  The letter stated in part:

Sequestering ObamaCare’s Employer Mandate

Last week, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the American Job Protection Act to repeal the ObamaCare employer mandate (a.k.a. the pay or play rules, or the employer “shared responsibility” rules).  Companion legislation was also introduced in the House on the same day.  Full text of the bill is available here.

As FreedomWorks reignites the movement to defund ObamCare in the House as we near the end of the CR on March 27, the American Job Protection Act offers a strong second front against one of ObamaCare’s most damaging provisions.  Sadly, full repeal is not politically feasible right now.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t keep trying to chip away at its more unpopular provisions through bills like this.

It’s Been Done Already
Let’s not forget that we’ve already repealed some of the nastier programs and mandates in prior legislation.  As nicely summarized in this post on Forbes by Grace-Marie Turner, the law’s government takeover of the long-term care industry called the CLASS Act, a major piece in the original legislation, is now history.  Other chunks now out for scrap include the burdensome $600 1099 reporting requirement and the odd employee free choice voucher, which would have allowed certain employees to apply their employer health plan contribution to the cost of coverage on the ObamaCare exchange.

GAO: ObamaCare could add $6.2 trillion to national debt

There is some more bad news for ObamaCare. According to a recently released report from the Government Accounting Office (GAO), the Patient Protect and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) — President Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement — could cost taxpayers dearly in the long-term if cost-savings measures don’t work as intended.

The report, which was requested by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, explains that the “effect of PPACA on the long-term fiscal outlook depends largely on whether elements designed to control cost growth are sustained.”

“Overall, there was notable improvement in the longer-term outlook after the enactment of PPACA under our Fall 2010 Baseline Extended simulation, which, consistent with federal law at the time the simulation was run, assumed the full implementation and effectiveness of the costcontainment provisions over the entire 75-year simulation period,” noted the GAO. “In contrast, the long-term outlook in the Fall 2010 Alternative simulation worsened slightly compared to our January 2010 simulation. This is largely due to the fact that cost-containment mechanisms specified in PPACA are assumed to phase out over time while the additional costs associated with expanding federal health care coverage remain.”

The baseline scenario is used by the government budget officials to determine the the cost effects of current law. However, the alternative scenario gauges budget implications based on past behavior of Congress, such as its proclivity for bypassing scheduled Medicare payments to doctors (also known as the “doc fix”).

United Liberty Podcast: Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)

Tom McClintock

“Congress should be cutting spending, reducing the regulatory burdens that are crushing the economy — freedom works, and it is time we put it back to work.” — Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)

Just a couple of days after President Barack Obama laid out his agenda for the next year in his State of the Union address, I sat down with Rep. Tom McClintock, a Republican who represents California’s Fourth Congressional District, to get his thoughts on the proposals being pushed by the White House, the Senate’s refusal to pass a budget, ObamaCare, and a few other issues.

On the State of the Union, Rep. McClintock, who has been among the staunchest defenders of economic freedom and the Constitution in Congress, was dismissive of President Obama’s agenda. “[W]e heard this song before,” he noted. “I think that his words have to be measured against the last four years of his deeds.”

He rhetorically asked, “What have been his policies? Higher taxes, much higher spending, out of control deficits, crushing business regulations. And what have those policies produced? Family take home pay has declined over these past four years, the unemployment rate is higher than when we started — it would be much higher except for the millions of Americans who have given up even looking for work.”

“What did he propose? More of the same,” Rep. McClintock stated. “Taking bad policy and doubling down on it doesn’t make it good policy.”

IRS Re-Finalizes Regulations Forcing Obamacare Subsidies on Federal Exchanges

Seemingly in response to this letter from Chairmans Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Dave Camp (R-MI) on January 29 to the Treasury and IRS, on February 1, the IRS again finalized the Obamacare subsidy regulations that flagrantly deviate from the statutory authority.  This issue continues to simmer relatively under the radar since I last wrote about it in August. To refresh everyone’s memory, Obamacare’s core redistributionist provisions are its refundable premium tax credits and cost sharing subsidies available for individuals to purchase coverage on state exchanges starting in 2014.  The credits will be available to anyone with annual income under 400% of the federal poverty line who isn’t covered under an employer-sponsored plan.  To put that in perspective, a family of four today earning up to $92,200 per year would be eligible for the credits.

Federal Exchanges Excluded
Here’s the kicker: Obamacare specifically limits these credits and subsidies to individuals who purchase coverage on an exchange established by the state.  Below is the actual, unambiguous provision from PPACA [emphasis added]:

Know Your Consumer-Driven Health Care: HSA

This is the third and final post on the primary consumer-driven health care arrangements under the current Internal Revenue Code.

As stated in the prior posts discussing the health FSA and HRA, the ideal consumer-driven health care vehicle should strive to achieve three main objectives:

1) Provide incentive for the individual to spend less on health expenses;

2) Maximize the individual’s flexibility in contributions and ownership of all assets contributed; and

3) Limit the individual’s financial exposure by including an out-of-pocket maximum.

The HSA is the only vehicle to effectively meet all three.

What is an HSA?

The health savings account (HSA) is the closest thing to the holy grail when it comes to applying free market principles and consumerism to modern health coverage.  HSAs are governed by Section 223 of the Internal Revenue Code.  And it’s one powerful Code section.  HSAs are triple tax-advantaged: contributions are made on a pre-tax basis (by payroll deduction) or tax deductible (above the line), funds held in the account grow tax-free, and distributions for qualified medical expenses are tax-free.  That’s as good as it gets.  The HSA is not perfect, but it is a solid foundation for a true consumer-driven model of health reform.

The basic premise of the HSA is to provide a tax-advantaged account to pair with a high deductible health plan (HDHP).  The HDHP is structured to leave a risk corridor that you’re responsible for paying, and the HSA is structured as a way to fund that risk corridor.  The HDHP will pay for some basic preventive services, but everything else will be subject to the high deductible before it’s covered.  If you incur expenses up to the extent of the deductible, you can (but don’t have to) use your HSA reimburse those costs.  The HDHP also has an out-of-pocket maximum to limit your financial liability.


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