Tag Archives: Obamacare

Why a Democratic Senate majority ‘likely moots’ Supreme Court ObamaCare challenge


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'It's an embarrassment': Biden takes aim at Trump's refusal to concede, defends Obamacare

'It's an embarrassment': Biden takes aim at Trump's refusal to concede, defends ObamacarePresident-elect Joe Biden warned Tuesday that the Trump administration’s ongoing attempt to strike down the Affordable Care Act would be a disaster for the millions of Americans who depend on it. He also said of Trump’s attempts to contest the election’s results, “It’s an embarrassment, quite frankly.”



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Undoing ‘Obamacare’ Could Harm More Than the Health of Americans

Undoing ‘Obamacare’ Could Harm More Than the Health of AmericansOpen enrollment for health care in the ACA marketplaces ended at 3 a.m., Dec. 18, 2019, the same day a panel ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.



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How the GOP broke ObamaCare — and the federal judiciary

How the GOP broke ObamaCare — and the federal judiciaryJust hours after ObamaCare's open enrollment ended for the year, a federal court of appeals threw the law into legal jeopardy based on a far-fetched lawsuit. Once again, the wellbeing of millions of people has been imperiled by the caucus of conservative federal judges intent on working hand-in-glove with Republican politicians to roll back universal health care in America.The latest lawsuit, Texas v. United States, is a bizarre posthumous attack on ObamaCare's individual mandate, which congressional Republicans effectively repealed in their 2017 tax bill. Yet on Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit declared the post-repeal husk of the mandate unconstitutional because it no longer functions as a tax. (Chief Justice John Roberts upheld the mandate as a tax in 2012.) More ominously, the court suggested that much of the rest of the law — its protections for people with pre-existing conditions, its health exchanges, the Medicaid expansion, and more — could fall with it. The court punted the work of figuring out just which provisions can be spared to district court judge Reed O'Connor, a conservative activist judge who already ruled that all of ObamaCare should be wiped out.It's a stunning judicial power grab. To reach its conclusion, the court had to conjure a sort of Schrodinger's mandate, both dead and alive at the same time: too dead to generate any government revenue (and thus no longer technically a tax), but alive enough to still compel people to buy insurance (and thus allowing them to sue at all).And the idea that courts have the power to invalidate any of the rest of ObamaCare is willfully blind to what actually played out in Congress in 2017. After trying and failing to repeal ObamaCare, congressional Republicans gave up, moved on to tax cuts, and sacked just the individual mandate for its cost savings. Congress itself already determined that the rest of ObamaCare could stand even without a functioning individual mandate, and Congress certainly did not hide full ObamaCare repeal in a tax bill.Nevertheless, one of the country's most conservative judges has just been tasked by one of its most conservative appellate courts with picking through the carcass of ObamaCare to determine what — if anything — can be salvaged.It's the third time this decade that an off-the-wall legal claim against ObamaCare quickly became on-the-wall after being rubber-stamped by conservative judges. Legal scholar Brian Highsmith — who warned a year ago that the Texas case could take down ObamaCare — attributes this pattern to the GOP's adept use of what he calls "partisan constitutionalism." Republicans, he wrote, "us[e] courts to relitigate battles that they can't win through the democratic process." The party's entire apparatus is mobilized: Republican state attorneys general bring lawsuits, and national Republicans in Washington endorse those lawsuits through conservative media and legal briefs filed in courts, which lends Republican-appointed federal judges sufficient institutional cover to validate the legal arguments. In Texas, the 18 Republican attorneys general behind the lawsuit even had the support of Trump's Department of Justice, which refused to defend ObamaCare in court.The predictable advancement of ObamaCare lawsuits stems from the fact that conservatives across government feel in their bones that universal health care is illegitimate and un-American. The legal arguments are just formalistic dressing for ideological belief. For example, in the first round of individual mandate litigation in 2010, what really bugged conservative judges wasn't whether the individual mandate actually pertained to interstate commerce or not — the technical legal claim at issue — but rather the sense that it was anathema to individual liberty.The same is true in Texas, where political ideology is hardly submerged in the court's opinion. In one footnote, the appeals court needlessly speculates that the ACA was perhaps "enacted as part of a fraud on the American people, designed to ultimately lead to a federal, single-payer health-care system." To support this wild theory, the court cites a statement by a one-term Republican congressman who was not even in Congress when ObamaCare was passed.In another gratuitous footnote, the court felt compelled to point out that "[o]pponents of the ACA … argue that the act goes too far in limiting individuals' freedom to choose health-care coverage." For that, the court relies on a statement by former GOP Rep. Darrell Issa criticizing the Obama administration's "if you like your plan, you can keep it" pledge.There are also career incentives for judges at work. President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have packed the courts with conservative judges. And by attacking Chief Justice Roberts over his votes upholding ObamaCare, Trump has sent a clear signal to aspiring judges: to win appointments — or just be invited to the right Federalist Society engagements — they must maintain their anti-ObamaCare bonafides.The perpetual legal assault on ObamaCare is the leading edge of the GOP's growing takeover of the federal judiciary. Millions of people who depend on the law for their health care could be the ones who pay the price.More stories from theweek.com Porn is evil. Don't ban it. Elizabeth Warren's attack on Buttigieg's wine cave fundraiser 'plays into hands' of GOP, former Obama campaign aide says A democracy in peril



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3 Legal Experts on What the Obamacare Ruling Really Means

3 Legal Experts on What the Obamacare Ruling Really MeansEver since Judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas ruled a year ago that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional, the country has been waiting for the next arbiter — a federal appeals court — to weigh in on the fate of the landmark health law.That ruling finally came Wednesday. But it offered little clarity.The judges from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that one key element of the law — the mandate requiring people to have insurance — was unconstitutional. But they sent the rest of the case back to O'Connor for what the dissenting judge called a "do-over," asking him to give it another think on the question of whether other parts of the law should be struck down too.The move means the legal showdown could continue for a long time, almost certainly beyond the 2020 election.We spoke with three law professors who have closely followed the battles over Obamacare to preview what next steps in this already prolonged litigation might look like.Can anything be done to speed up this process?The group of Democratic states that are defending the act could ask for all judges on the 5th Circuit to take the case, known as an en banc hearing. Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, said in a news conference Thursday that he wants to appeal directly to the Supreme Court but is consulting other attorneys general in the group about that strategy."Both are long shots," said Jonathan H. Adler, who teaches at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Since there are no immediate consequences to Wednesday's ruling — the law continues to be enforced while the court process plays out — the Supreme Court, in particular, would be unlikely to consider the case until it has made its way fully through the lower courts, Adler said.Not everyone shares that view, given the national importance of the law to the nation's health care system. "This is an unusual case, and the writing for the ACA is on the wall," said Nicholas Bagley, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Law. "So the court might opt to hear it now."When is O'Connor likely to rule again?The 5th Circuit put the burden on both sides to do their homework, to submit new briefs and reargue the case, a time-consuming process. And the federal government will be taking a new stance, since it now supports striking down the full ACA, a different position from its original one.Adding the time it will take for O'Connor to draft a fresh decision, his ruling might not emerge for nearly a year, several legal observers say. Then the appeal process would begin anew.Is this decision a legal punt?Adler considers the ruling a punt, saying, "it has no practical effect."Bagley, not so much: "The Supreme Court might well take the case, and this will remain a political headache for the Republicans."Abbe R. Gluck, a professor at Yale Law School, characterizes the 5th Circuit's ruling as more intentional. "As the dissent says, severability is a question of law — the court doesn't need more briefing or facts to determine," Gluck said, referring to the doctrine that says when Congress strikes down an element of a law but doesn't explicitly erase it all, the rest stands. "Instead, it sent the case back to a judge who has made his distaste for the entire ACA unclear," ducking responsibility for knocking it down or reinforcing it.Any clue what the appeals panel really thinks?"I think the panel is skeptical of the all-or-nothing approach to severability and isn't quite sure what to do," Adler said. "But that is somewhat speculative on my part."Bagley took a harder line, saying he thought the majority opinion almost completely endorsed O'Connor's ruling. The judge had said that when Congress in 2017 eliminated the tax penalty for those who didn't buy insurance, the full act became null."The court thinks, though, that there might be a few portions of the ACA that can be salvaged," Bagley said. "But it's signaling that it's OK if O'Connor thinks those are precious few indeed."Any bets on how the 5th Circuit will ultimately rule?Gluck said the panel noted that O'Connor gave short shrift to the views of the 2017 Congress, which struck down the penalty for not buying insurance but said nothing about eliminating the full health care law."Once the inquiry properly shifts to the 2017 Congress," she said, "it will be hard for any court to invalidate the whole law without looking like it is engaging in egregious judicial overreach."How long could this case continue?"The case is all but certain to drag out well past the 2020 election," Bagley said.Among the three law professors, on that point there was no dissent.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company



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Federal court: ObamaCare individual mandate unconstitutional

Federal court: ObamaCare individual mandate unconstitutionalA federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that the Affordable Care Act's individual insurance mandate is unconstitutional, striking down a key provision of ObamaCare, reports The New York Times.The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the ACA could not require people to have health insurance, but sent the rest of the case to a separate court in Texas. The Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate in 2012, but because Congress repealed the tax law that allowed the mandate and the Trump administration has opted not to defend the ACA, the mandate was re-examined.The rest of the health care bill's legality will be handled by a Texas court that previously argued the entire ACA was invalid. A final decision is likely several months away, writes Nola.com.Read more at The New York Times and Nola.com.More stories from theweek.com Trump accidentally says Democrats will receive an impeachment 'backlash at the box office' The Trump drama is about to get a whole lot weirder House overwhelmingly passes USMCA in bipartisan vote



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Congress to Repeal Three Health Industry Taxes Intended to Fund Obamacare

Congress to Repeal Three Health Industry Taxes Intended to Fund ObamacareCongress is preparing to repeal three major health industry taxes meant to fund the Affordable Care Act in the year-end spending bill, dealing a significant blow to Obamacare's funding mechanisms.While congressional leaders are still hammering out the details of the spending bill, lawmakers have reportedly agreed to scrap the 40 percent Cadillac tax on high end employer plans, the 2.3 percent medical device tax, and an additional health insurance tax.The repeal of the taxes, which were mandated by the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act, constitutes a win for the health insurance industry and a severe funding problem for Obamacare. The Cadillac tax repeal is expected to cost nearly $ 200 billion over 10 years, while the repeals of the other two taxes are projected to cost between $ 15 billion and $ 25 billion each over the same period.Congress prevented the Cadillac tax, which drew strong opposition from employers and unions with expensive health benefits plans, from taking effect until 2022, and the House voted over the summer to abandon it permanently. The medical device and health insurance taxes have been enforced on and off since the Affordable Care Act was passed.The text of the $ 1.4 trillion spending bill is expected to be released Monday, and the package is expected to pass both the House and Senate this week.Some Senate Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Pat Leahy have opposed the Cadillac tax since the Obama years, “This tax unfortunately would target far too many health plans and place far too great a burden on working families,” Leahy said in 2015. “We must find a way to contain the cost of health care without creating geographic disparities and limiting the benefits available in health plans.”



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Trump administration says Obamacare plan premiums to fall

Trump administration says Obamacare plan premiums to fallMonthly premiums for an average 2020 Obamacare health insurance plan will fall about 4 percent from this year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Trump administration, which has tried to dismantle the program. The Trump administration has cut back on funding for the health insurance program, which was created by President Barack Obama as part of the Affordable Care Act and is often called Obamacare, and has sought to overturn it in Congress and legal courts. Obamacare provides needs-based subsidies to help low-income people buy health insurance.



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Democratic candidates debate 'Medicare for All' when they should focus on saving Obamacare

Democratic candidates debate 'Medicare for All' when they should focus on saving ObamacareDonald Trump came within a hair of repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2017. Republicans in Congress and on the courts aren't giving up: Our view



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House Vote to Repeal Obamacare Tax Shows Health Care Tension

House Vote to Repeal Obamacare Tax Shows Health Care Tension(Bloomberg) — The House voted overwhelmingly to repeal a tax Wednesday intended to fund the Affordable Care Act, preserving tax breaks for employer-sponsored insurance plans favored by large corporations.In a reversal of the usual partisan roles, Democrats rather than Republicans led the charge to kill a key part of Obamacare.The bill to repeal the levy commonly known as the “Cadillac tax” passed 419-6 with bipartisan support. The 40% excise tax on the most generous and expensive employer health-insurance plans was included in Obamacare as a measure that economists said would help curb health costs.Congress kept delaying its implementation so the tax has never actually been collected. Had it gone into effect, it would have hit about one in five employers that offer health benefits to their workers, according to estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation.The vote to repeal the tax highlights the conflicting forces pulling at Democrats when campaigning versus legislating.Several of the party’s presidential candidates led by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren support replacing nearly all private insurance with a government-run system financed by tax increases. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner in the race, has a less sweeping plan to bolster Obamacare, but it still would offer a public health insurance option funded by tax hikes on the wealthy.But in Congress, Democrats and Republicans are facing pressure from labor unions and large companies to move in the opposite direction by keeping tax advantages for employer-sponsored plans. Supporters of repealing the tax say keeping it in place would force employers to offer less generous health insurance to their workers.Employers can reap large tax savings by compensating their employees in the form of more extensive health insurance, rather than wages, which are subject to payroll taxes. Employer-paid premiums are exempt from federal income and payroll taxes, and the premiums employees pay are also often excluded from taxable income.Changing Minds“I’ve been a supporter of the Cadillac tax because I thought it would” lower health care costs, said Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House. “But I’ve read some additional material on it and it’s obviously overwhelmingly thought this will not have the effect in terms of raising money or controlling cost that I thought it would have.”The dissonance among Democrats about whether to expand or shrink employer-sponsored health coverage makes them look like “gymnasts,” said Representative Mike Kelly, a Pennsylvania Republican.“Where are you on this stuff?” he said. “Wait a minute, you’re all advocating that there be no such thing as employer-sponsored coverage.”The repeated delays in imposing the Cadillac tax delays mean that Congress was never able to test whether it would curb the explosion of health care spending, which has risen an average 4.2% every quarter between 2010 and 2018, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.The repeal also would mean that the Treasury Department won’t collect the $ 201 billion the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated it would raise over a decade.Obamacare TaxesObamacare included several other tax increases, including a 3.8% tax on investment income and a 0.9% levy on wages for top-earners. The portion of the law that was supposed to be financed through the Cadillac tax instead would be paid for through deficit spending, unless lawmakers propose a last-minute tax increase to offset the cost.Democrats have generally opposed measures to chip away at President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, but the Cadillac tax has been unpopular since it became part of the code.The measure to repeal it, H.R. 748, was passed under a fast-track procedure requiring two-thirds support among House members.Yet popularity doesn’t necessarily mean good policy, said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Politicians don’t like the tax on health benefits, but nearly every economist thinks the Cadillac tax or a similar measure is necessary to help slow the rise in health-care costs and curb overuse of health services, he added.“Just because it’s bipartisan doesn’t mean it’s good,” he said.Not all Democrats are on board with eliminating the tax. Representative Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat, said he opposes the repeal because the cost isn’t offset and there wasn’t any discussion about how scuttling the tax would affect the Affordable Care Act overall.“I think we are lapsing into some very bad habits in the majority,” he said. “We need to start instilling some fiscal discipline in this place and making some tough decisions.”Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, hasn’t committed to addressing the issue in his chamber. Because the repeal effort is led by Democrats, it sets up a path for McConnell to use it as a vehicle to attach Republican tax priorities, such as correcting errors in the 2017 tax law or extending several expired tax breaks that benefit the biodiesel and energy industries.“We’ve kicked the can down the road for so long on this one that the assumption is that it’s never going to go into effect,” said Representative Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat. “There’s a certain inevitability to this one getting repealed.”\–With assistance from Emily Wilkins.To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Davison in Washington at ldavison4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Laurie AsséoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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