state exchanges

As We Await Word on The King v. Burwell Decision, Let’s Revisit Why It’s Before SCOTUS: The Disaster of Cover Oregon

cover oregon

Like dominos crashing in a row, many States are realizing their Obamacare exchanges are either bleeding money, on the brink of insolvency, or sadly shutting down their State controlled operations and placing their citizens’ healthcare under the federal exchange and Washington bureaucrats.

According to a recent and important story in The Hill, many of the 13 states that established their own health care exchanges under ObamaCare are fearful they won’t survive when federal dollars dry up next year. Hawaii is the most recent to give up independent operations. Democratic Gov. David Ide put it best when he revealed the Health Connector was “unable to generate sufficient revenues to sustain operations.”

Hawaii isn’t the only exchange experiencing trouble in paradise. Nevada discovered more than 1,500 defects embedded in the site last year and joined the federal exchange. Colorado, Minnesota, and Vermont are next likely to remove the constant and ever-increasing drain on their state’s budget and shutter their failed exchanges. But none of these failures are close to matching the man-made disaster that is Cover Oregon, the Beaver State’s version of ObamaCare.

The story of Oregon’s health care portal is a story of waste, fraud, and potentially criminal abuse. Once the darling of the Obama White House, the truth has been steadily emerging. Congressional hearings should not merely detail the vast waste of taxpayers dollars but shine sunlight on facts so blatantly illegal that even President Obama’s own Department of Justice will be forced to finally begin necessary criminal proceedings in this case.

ObamaCare will cost Delta Air Lines $100 million

Delta Air Lines sent a letter to the Obama Administration in June warning them that the mandates and taxes in ObamaCare will cost the company $100 million.

The letter, which was made available via Erick Erickson at RedState, followed a meeting between Robert Knight, a Delta executive, and an Obama Administration official at Grady Hospital in Atlanta, where the airline is based. In the letter, Knight breaks down the various provisions of the law and associated costs that ObamaCare will impose on the airline and what it could mean for employees.

“The [Affordable Care Act] requires large employers to pay an annual fee of $63 per covered participant in 2014,” wrote Knight to the unnamed Obama Administration official with whom he met. “For Delta’s roughly 160,000 enrolled active and retired employees and their family members, this represents more than $10 million added to the cost of providing health care next year.”

Knight noted that the fee, which is essentially a tax, provides no benefit to Delta’s workers and is “a direct subsidy” from the company and its employees “to those who participate in [ObamaCare’s state] exchanges.” He also explained that the requirement to cover children until they’re 26 years-old and the individual mandate will cost the company a total of $28 million.

ObamaCare Exchange Information Campaign Taps Employers


Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) infamously stated in 2010 that “we have to pass the bill [ObamaCare] so that you can find out what is in it.”  It was a curious comment, one that could have any number of meanings.  Here’s what I understood it to mean: This bill is so damn big, has so many moving parts, and will radically remodel the relationship between the civil society and government to such a degree that there is no way for Americans to conceptualize what life will be like under the ObamaCare utopia until we implement it.

Well, the time is nigh.  And for employers, guess what?  You’re really about to find out what’s in it.  The employer mandate and its associated excise tax penalties are a cornerstone of the fundamental transformation President Obama has so long desired.  In the ObamaCare solar system, everything revolves around the exchanges.  Employer mandate excise taxes, enforced by the same IRS that recently admitted to targeting Tea Party groups, will provide crucial funding for the massive exchange subsidies.

One of the ObamaCare requirements associated with the employer mandate that has been largely under the radar until this week is requirement to provide employees with a notice informing them about the ObamaCare exchanges.  From Section 1512 of PPACA:



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:

Legislative intent matters: Democrats removed availability of subsidies through the federal exchange before Obamacare was passed

Obamacare supporters are very worried about last week’s decision in Halbig v. Burwell, in which the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the IRS didn’t have the authority to dole out subsidies to consumers who purchased covered on the federal insurance Exchange.

In light of recently discovered January 2012 comments made by Jonathan Gruber, chief architect of the Obamacare, the Obama administration’s allies are trying to spin the legislative history of the law.

Greg Sargent, who writes at the Washington Post’s PlumLine blog, says that language authorizing the federal Exchange was actually in the version of Obamacare that passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, but was taken out when its version was merged with the Senate Finance Committee’s version:

A reconstruction of the process by which that contested phrase got into the law demonstrates two key facts:

1) The first Senate version of the health law to be passed in 2009 — by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — explicitly stated that subsides would go to people on the federally-established exchange. A committee memo describing the bill circulated at the time spelled this out with total clarity.

Oh, look, more evidence shows Obamacare subsidies were meant to apply only to state Exchanges

The collective Leftist freakout over the Halbig decision and unearthed comments of Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber got a little worse on Friday and over the weekend as more evidenced surfaced that Congress wrote the law in a way that would pressure states to participate in the health insurance Exchanges or be denied subsidies.

Though he denies that Obamacare was written in a way to deny subsidies to states that opted not to participate in the system, calling his January 2012 comments a “speak-o,” a second instance of Gruber making the same argument has been uncovered by Reason’s Peter Suderman.

Here are the two comments, both of which were made in January 2012. First, here’s Gruber at an event hosted by Noblis, a Virginia-based research nonprofit, on January 18, 2012 via Suderman. You can listen for yourself here:

Obamacare’s architect agrees: Healthcare law subsidies were supposed to apply only to state-run Exchanges

The Obama administration’s claim that Congress never intended for Obamacare subsidies to apply only to states that implemented their own Exchanges looks much, much weaker this morning. Reason’s Peter Suderman has passed along some video gold, in which the architect of the law says it was worded to place political pressure on states.

Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist who worked on Romneycare in Massachusetts, helped the administration craft Obamacare and, in January 2012, stated pretty clearly that consumers in states that opted out of the law would be denied subsidies.

“What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits — but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill,” Gruber told an audience. “So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country.”

“I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together,” he said, “and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges.”

Here’s the clip (the original is almost an hour long) via Phil Kerpen:

The Obama White House’s whining doesn’t change the fact that the IRS illegally tried to rewrite Obamacare

The White House may not like the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ panel decision in Halbig v. Burwell, but President Barack Obama need only look to his own administration for what is yet another smackdown by the judicial branch.

Judge Thomas B. Griffith realized the impact the decision could have on the availability of Obamacare subsidies for consumers who purchased plans on the federal Exchange. He was mindful, however, of the role the judicial branch plays in interpreting statues. And, in this instance, the Internal Revenue Service acted without authority by authorizing subsidies to consumers in states that refused to participate in Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act, in §1311, makes it very clear that subsidies were limited to states with established Exchanges. Claims that Congress intended to apply the subsidies broadly, including to the federal Exchange, rang hollow. “The fact is that the legislative record provides little indication one way or the other of congressional intent,” Griffith wrote, “but the statutory text does.”

Rather than illegally promulgating guidance to dole out subsidies, the Obama administration should have gone to Congress to seek a legislative remedy to fix the problem. That’s something President Obama just wasn’t willing to do, whether it was pride holding him back or the prospect of having to try to forge a compromise with House Republicans on the law.

Here’s how the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals could gut Obamacare and cause a huge headache for the Obama administration

Though last week’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case is still the center of discussion in the media, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to issue a ruling in another Obamacare case, one with much larger implications to the framework of the law.

At issue in Halbig v. Sebelius (now known as Halbig v. Burwell) is whether the Internal Revenue Service can legally dole out tax credit subsidies to Obamacare enrollees in states that opted out of creating their own health insurance exchange. The National Journal offers a primer on the case, which could be decided any day now:

The Halbig challenge argues that the Obama administration—specifically the IRS—is breaking the law by offering those tax subsidies in all 50 states. It relies mainly on the text of the statute, which authorizes subsidies in “an exchange established by the State.”

That phrasing clearly restricts subsidies to state-run exchanges and does not authorize them to flow through the federally run fallback exchange, the lawsuit claims.

Looks like Obama may have gotten ahead of himself: HHS reports 2.6 million unresolved Obamacare data inconsistencies

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama may have gotten ahead of himself when he announced in April that more than 8 million people had signed up for coverage on the federal and state Obamacare exchanges.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hasn’t resolved some 2.6 million data inconsistencies in Obamacare enrollments, according to a report from the department’s internal watchdog.

“During the period of our review, marketplaces were unable to resolve most inconsistencies, which they reported most commonly as citizenship and income,” the report from the HHS inspector general explains. “Specifically, the Federal marketplace was unable to resolve 2.6 million of 2.9 million inconsistencies because the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) eligibility system was not fully operational.”

The report explains that applicants can have multiple inconsistencies and that the 2.6 million remaining inconsistencies that the “do not necessarily indicate that an applicant provided inaccurate information or is enrolled in a qualified health plan or is receiving financial assistance through insurance affordability programs inappropriately.”

Inconsistencies weren’t limited to the federal exchange,, which covers 36 states. States operating their own exchanges reported their fair share of issues, though seven states were able to resolve the inconsistencies on their own. But, still, the federal exchange is the biggest challenge.

“We also found that data on inconsistencies are limited,” the report continues. “For example, the Federal marketplace could not determine the number of applicants who had at least one inconsistency.”

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