Category Archives: ObamaCare

Obama: Oh, those “clawback” penalties? Just kidding!

Megan McArdle is writing at Bloomberg about yet another waiver from the ObamaCare Law, this one to the provision requiring penalties be paid to the IRS of any excess in federal tax credits that an insured person may have received as health insurance subsidies, if the taxpayer does not pay the excess back by April 15th.

McArdle says this about the waiver of the “clawback” penalties:

It’s not relieving you of the obligation to repay; it’s just saying that you won’t be liable for a penalty if you don’t repay by the deadline.  Interest will continue to accrue, but the interest rates that the IRS charges are actually pretty reasonable (and probably much better than what your credit card company charges).  It’s the failure-to-pay penalties it layers on top — half a percentage point a month, with even stiffer penalties for failing to file — that really make your tax bill add up fast.

The full article is HERE.

SCOTUS to take on King versus Burwell

I’ve written twice before this year (HERE and HERE) to comment on the progress through the federal court system of two ObamaCare cases.  The two are among the many filed that are predicated on the contention that ObamaCare subsidies cannot be legally paid when the health care coverage is purchased via a federal exchange (i.e., through the online portal) by a resident of a state that did not establish a state exchange.  North Carolina, of course, is one such state.

The first post noted the ruling in July of a 3-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in a case named Halbig versus Burwell.  The panel ruled, via a 2/1 majority, that such subsidies were illegal under the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA, or ObamaCare).

The second post was about a similar ruling, this one from a District Court in eastern Oklahoma in a case known as Oklahoma versus Burwell.

In the D.C. Circuit case, Halbig versus Burwell, the defendants (the Obama administration’s DHHS head Sylvia Burwell or her successor) had asked that the full court review the case, and their request had been granted.  Since the Obama administration has succeeded in recent years, with Senator Harry Reid’s help, in appointing several new liberal justices to the D.C. Circuit Court, this move was expected to eventually result in a victory for ObamaCare by way of an “en banc” reversal of the 3-judge panel’s ruling.

Now comes word in an announcement Friday that the Supreme Court has agreed to review King versus Burwell, another such case arising out of Virginia.  In this case, a 3-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in Richmond, reached the conclusion that the residents of all fifty states were eligible for the federal subsidies, regardless of whether their state had created an exchange.

Since the lower federal courts are now split, the Supreme Court must resolve the basic issue.  We do not know which justices voted in favor of taking on the case, but it takes a minimum of four Supreme Court justices to grant certiorari, and it is something of a truism among court watchers that SCOTUS does not usually take on a case for the purpose of affirming a lower court ruling.  In addition, Justice Kennedy, the justice who is usually characterized as the Court’s current “swing vote”, was one of the four dissenters in NFIB versus Sebelius, the 2012 case in which Chief Justice John Roberts presided over a 5/4 majority to uphold the ObamaCare individual mandate.

There is, therefore, some basis for taking the optimistic view that there is substantial sentiment on the court for a view of the subsidies issue that is not in accord with that of the Obama administration’s Justice Department.

Oklahoma’s 1st Success Against the ObamaCare Subsidies

According to a piece put up yesterday afternoon by Craig Bannister at CNS-News, Oklahoma was the first state to file a lawsuit in Federal court challenging the Obama administration’s arbitrary decision to subsidize, via the Federal exchange portal, health care insurance even in those states that did not choose to establish a state-level exchange.  Their suit was filed in 2012, and the first decision has now come down from the District Court level in eastern Oklahoma.

A key passage from Judge Ronald White’s DECISION in the case (known as Oklahoma versus Burwell) is as follows:

The court holds that the IRS rule is arbitrary, capricious, and abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law, pursuant to 5 U.S.C.706(2)(A), in excess of summary jurisdiction, authority or limitation, or short of statutory right, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(C), or otherwise is an invalidation of the ACA [Affordable Care Act], and is hereby vacated.  The court’s order of vacatur is stayed, however, pending resolution of any appeal from this order.

The Obama administration will undoubtedly appeal, so the next step will be a consideration by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (see map, below).  Since at least two conflicting decisions have already come down in other Circuit Courts, however, the case will almost certainly be folded into an appeal to the Supreme Court, probably in 2015.


According to the article, HERE, this loss for the Obama administration is only the latest of the 71 court losses they have experienced (out of the 78 decisions handed down so far), and altogether, over one hundred lawsuits have been filed.

For further information on certain other cases filed against ObamaCare, the Beckett Fund is a useful resource.

ObamaCare Auto-Renewals Becoming Problematic

Over the weekend, the Associated Press put up an article on the Newsday website, HERE, about the growing apprehension of “industry officials” and other health care administrative experts on the efficacy of the ObamaCare mechanism for correctly calculating the subsidies when automatically renewing health care policies.  If the calculations result in a premium amount that is too low, consumers will get a rude awakening when their actual premium bills start coming in from the health insurance companies.  Conversely, if the amount is too high, they may owe a refund to the IRS later.

From the article:

“It was our preference for [the Obama administration] to have the capacity to update people’s subsidy information, but they haven’t been able to get that built,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the industry trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans.

But, wonder of wonders, it appears that it will not work that smoothly:

First, financial aid is partly based on premiums for a current benchmark plan in the community where the consumer lives.  Because more plans are joining the market and insurers are submitting entirely new bids for 2015, the benchmark in many communities will be different.

Second, financial aid is also based on household income.  If your income goes down, you are entitled to a bigger health insurance tax credit.  If it goes up, you get less.  The 2014 amounts could well be out of date and incorrect for many people.  Financial assistance is also affected by age, family size and where people live.

And that doesn’t get into another motivation for consumers to shop around: Premiums and choices for 2015 are changing, so your current plan may no longer be a good deal.  “Just continuing in the same plan with the same credit is not going to be the optimal outcome for most people,” said Judy Solomon of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which advocates for low-income people.  “Your 2014 credit is going to be lower in most cases, and in some cases it could be too high.”

About 8 in 10 of those who signed up for private coverage under the health care law are getting financial aid.  In the 36 states served by the federal insurance exchange, the tax credits average $264 a month, reducing the average monthly premium of $346 to just $82. … But the subsidy scheme created by Congress to keep premiums affordable has so many moving parts that it’s turning out to be difficult for the government to administer.

Open enrollment for 2015 begins on November 15th, about a week after the fall elections, and it will close about one month later.  During this brief period, health care consumers who already have a policy will need to renew or make changes to their policies in order to avoid a break in coverage on January 1st.

Encouraging ObamaCare Ruling from the DC Circuit

A three-judge panel of the liberal DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., has ruled that the Federal exchanges that were set up by the Feds to service those states that refused to set up their own state ObamaCare exchanges (such as North Carolina) are issuing illegal subsidies to policyholders because the ObamaCare legislation clearly delineates state exchanges as the portals for obtaining health insurance coverage through the health care law.

The ruling, in a case known as Halbig v. Burwell, was by a 2-1 majority.  The Obama administration is now likely to ask for an en banc hearing, in which the full DC Circuit will review the case again and make a final ruling for the court.  If the administration does not prevail in the en banc hearing, the next stop will be the Supreme Court.

The Federal exchanges offer health insurance in 36 states, mostly through the online portal,  On average, health insurance obtained via the federal exchanges are offered with a 76% subsidy in taxpayer funds.  Currently, of the eight million persons signed up for ObamaCare, slightly more than two-thirds of them signed up through the Federal portal.  If, and I emphasize IF, the en banc court and SCOTUS validate the panel’s ruling, this two-thirds would be denied subsidies, their premiums would jump 76%, and the vast majority would find the coverage unaffordable and drop out.

If that should come to pass, the Obama administration would probably try to exercise the maximum degree of pressure and coercion to get the 36 abstaining states to create their own exchanges.

What will Obama’s Hobby Lobby Exec-Order Look Like?

As most readers will have learned by now courtesy of the mainstream and cable news media, the Supreme Court has again crafted a narrow ruling on an ObamaCare issue, this one the mandate on employers to fund certain contraceptive measures that they may find objectionable on religious grounds.

So, if Obama picks up his pen to deal with this setback to the grand design of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, what will his prescription look like?

At the law blog The Volokh Conspiracy, contributer Jonathan Adler has a post up that takes an educated guess.  A key excerpt:

The easiest and most rapid response would be for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide objecting for-profit employers with the same accommodation offered to religious institutions.  Indeed, the very existence of this accommodation undermined the administration’s position before the Supreme Court, as it was hard to simultaneously argue that there was no less restrictive way to provide access to contraception while providing just such an alternative to religious institutions.  Expanding the accommodation would be relatively easy, and could be done quickly through an interim final regulation.

The accommodation offered to religious institutions shifts the obligation to pay for contraception coverage from the employer to the insurer.  This may well satisfy many objecting employers, but it might not work for all of them.  First, some employers self-insure, making insurer and employer one and the same.  Second, some Catholic institutions object to the accommodation because it requires them to sign a form and interact with the insurer to facilitate the required contraception coverage.

As to requiring the insurers to pay, many pundits have already pointed out that this would be a distinction without a difference, as the insurer would simply pass on the associated cost to the employer through the insurance premiums.  And in fact, this reality is likely to be addressed by SCOTUS in the Little Sisters Of The Poor cases (non-profit organizations), which will be decided next year.

Adler goes on:

A more direct way to enhance contraception coverage would be for the federal government to provide such coverage directly.  Yet while Congress could authorize such a program, it is not clear that HHS has the authority to take this step on its own.  I am not aware of any provision in the PPACA or other law that would authorize appropriations for this purpose.  Of course, were HHS to try and take such a step unilaterally, it’s not clear who would have standing to challenge the move.

A final step the administration could take would be to enhance access to contraception by making all forms of oral contraception available over-the-counter without a prescription …

For the complete post, click HERE.

Veteran’s Admin. Employees reassigned to ObamaCare

The blog Truth Revolt has up an in-depth article on the news that, since they had so little to do on behalf of veteran’s, the Obama administration decided to reassign some VA employees to help the HHS with processing ObamaCare applications.  The post, HERE,  includes some of the transcript from the whistleblower’s appearance on Neil Cavuto’s cable television show.

Obama Administration Hides the ObamaCare Ball

Remember back in the first month or so of the Obama Administration, when the President had the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau functions moved to the White House, to be overseen by his henceman Rahm Emanuel?  If not, you can refresh your memory HERE.

At first, it was thought to be all about micro-managing the 2010 national census, but it now looks as if another shoe has dropped.  The recently announced changes to how the Obama Administration’s Census Bureau will henceforth determine a count of the nation’s uninsured has dismayed many, and roused at least two pundits to commentary, as it is a painfully obvious attempt on the part of President Obama to prevent fact-checking on one of his fundamental contentions about the merits of the ACA, to wit, the declaration that it would greatly reduce the number of Americans who lack health insurance.  Obama wants to avoid the embarrassment of having the routine Census health insurance numbers give the lie to his promise.

Here is an excerpt from THIS piece on Obama’s executive order, by well known economics writer Megan McArdle:

I’m speechless.  Shocked.  Stunned.  Horrified.  Befuddled.  Aghast, appalled, thunderstruck, perplexed, baffled, bewildered, and dumbfounded.  It’s not that I am opposed to the changes: Everyone understands that the census reports probably overstate the true number of the uninsured, because the number they report is supposed to be “people who lacked insurance for the entire previous year,” but people tend to answer with their insurance status right now.

But why, dear God, oh, why, would you change it in the one year in the entire history of the republic that it is most important for policy makers, researchers and voters to be able to compare the number of uninsured to those in prior years?  The answers would seem to range from “total incompetence on the part of every level of this administration” to something worse.

Robert Pear also wrote a piece in the New York Times on this subject, and the full article is HERE.

Hobby Lobby, in the Eye of the ObamaCare Hurricane

Until this past week, I had never set foot in a Hobby Lobby store, and the first impression I had when I entered the Morehead City store was that it was enormous.  It was also not what I expected.  There were no lavish ObamacarePost_HeaderImagedisplays of model electric trains, no section for battery powered remote-controlled model dune buggies, model boats, model airplanes, helicopters, or quadrocopters, not even a telescope for a harmless bit of stargazing.

But there was other stuff, lots of other stuff.  The second thing I noticed after walking in was, off to my right, a very large area devoted to the display of artificial flowers.  Being in firm possession of a Y chromosome, I do not have much interest in flowers, artificial or otherwise, so I moved on.  I saw sewing and knitting supplies, picture framing materials, art supplies, even some ready-made doll houses, and as I continued wandering about the store, my amazement grew at what I would characterize as the largest inventory of household knick-knacks in the universe.  And yes, there were some religious items, but not significantly more than you would find at a Target or Wal-Mart, in my opinion.

I went to the store in order to learn a little about the nature of the retail chain that has become the center of a controversial case that was argued just this past week in front of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).  The case is Sebelius versus Hobby Lobby Stores, and in combination with the similar Conestoga Wood Specialties versus Sebelius suit, it presented to the Justices the question of whether a business can be forced by the government to provide health insurance coverage to it’s employees when that coverage will encompass goods and/or services to which the business ownership objects on religious grounds.  In this case the objectional “goods and/or services” are contraceptives, which are mandated by ObamaCare.

Based on how most Court observers assess the arguments, the ruling on this case (expected in June) will be decided on a 5/4 split with Justice Kennedy as the swing vote.  No one knows which arguments the Court will find more persuasive, but for more information and detail, check out these links to three articles reporting on the oral arguments before the Court last Tuesday.  The first, HERE, is a recap from SCOTUSBlog legal journalist Lyle Denniston.  The second, HERE, is from Sarah Torre posting in a Q-&-A format at the online National Review, and the third, HERE, is a posting by law professor Eugene Volokh in which he presents a technical analysis of the core arguments in the case.

I’m rooting for the conservative side to prevail, for two reasons.  First, because it would be the right outcome on constitutional grounds, and second, because it would be another serious wound for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

ObamaCare Escape Hatch – Health Care Sharing Ministries

From John Berlau’s article from yesterday at OpenMarkets, the Competitive Enterprise Institute blog:

Buried in Section 1501 on page 148 of the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is an exemption from the individual mandate for a “health care sharing ministry,” a group whose members “share a common set of ethical or religious beliefs and share medical expenses among members in accordance with those beliefs.”  For any member of such group, the law says, “No penalty shall be imposed.”

Intriguing, no?  Read the whole thing, HERE.

Don’t Want No Cheese, Lord, Just Lemme Outah Da Trap

One weekend when I was a teenaged college student, I brought home from NCSU (the best college I ever flunked out of) a friend who was a Math major.  My father was still raising a few hogs then, and my friend and I were out in the yard, leaning up against the hog pen, when he idly wondered, “Why do you build the pens in a rectangle?  You know, you could enclose more area with less lumber if you built them round.”  The question took me aback somewhat, and I did not have a good answer, so I paused to give it some thought.  While I was mulling it over my Dad walked up, so I relayed my friend’s question to him.  Dad looked at us both as if we were imbeciles, then stated what he plainly thought was an obvious truth: “Without a corner, there would be no place to hem up a hog if you needed to catch one”.

President Obama clearly wants to “hem up” everyone who might have an ObamacarePost_HeaderImagealternative to becoming enrolled in ObamaCare.  Ed Haislmaier is a senior research fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies, and late last week he posted an article at the online National Review about the latest “executive order” that is intended to tighten the ObamaCare noose.  It focuses on “indemnity insurance”, and the full article is HERE.

Drudge Says: Small Business Owners Already Having To Pay ObamaCare Individual Mandate Tax If They Opt Out

There is a big kerfuffle going on now in the liberal media, as left-wing ObamacarePost_HeaderImagemedia pundits try to minimize the downside to the reporting by Matt Drudge (of the Drudge Report) that he has already had to pay the first installment of his three quarterly ObamaCare tax payments.  Although the penalty for not complying with the Individual Mandate takes effect beginning January 1st of next year for other individuals, Mr. Drudge maintains that it took place on January 1st of this year for those individuals who are self-employed.  Mr. Drudge has never revealed his staffing numbers, but from this it appears that they may be in excess of fifty.

Brietbart reporter Matthew Boyle explains in more detail, HERE.



Jeffrey Young of the Huffington Post got this from a Jackson-Hewitt Senior Vice-President:

“That’s perplexing,” said Brian Haile, the senior vice president for health-care policy at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, a tax-preparation company.  The IRS has no mechanism in place yet to even accept individual mandate penalties and hasn’t even published the tables taxpayers will use to work out how much they owe.  Plus, any money sent in can’t be earmarked especially for that, he explained.  The IRS didn’t respond to a request for additional information about collecting mandate penalties.  Drudge didn’t respond to an email asking him to elaborate on his tweet.

“For whatever reason, Matt Drudge has decided to give the government an interest-free loan,” Haile said.

I wonder what the Vegas line is for this match-up?  Anyhoo, more to come, probably, so don’t touch that dial!

Gangster Guvmint Post Of The Day: ObamaCare Edition

From a new article up on National Journal today by reporter Sam Baker:

The health care law provides subsidies to help low-income people cover GangstaGuvsome of their out-of-pocket costs. Last year, the administration said those subsidies were taking a 7 percent cut because of the sequester, which imposed across-the-board reductions in federal spending.

But now, the White House has changed its mind. It removed the cost-sharing subsidies from its list of programs that are subject to the sequester, eliminating the 7 percent cut for 2015.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which noticed the change, said the reversal would likely restore about $560 million to the subsidies—and require $560 million in cuts to other programs to make up for it.

The cost-sharing subsidies are expected to total $8 billion this year and $156 billion over the next decade.

Who benefits from the change? The low-income families who qualify for these subsidies, as well as the White House and insurance companies.

View the full article, HERE.

The “October Surprise” Comes In March

In an exchange with a friend earlier this week, I speculated that the GangstaGuvObama administration would, with the stroke of the magic pen, rescind the ObamaCare individual mandate prior to the fall elections.  Today, the editors of the Wall Street Journal inform me that I am way behind the curve on this.  Herewith, the first two paragraphs of the piece:

ObamaCare’s implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care Act—the individual mandate.  To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty.

This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the Health and Human Services Department didn’t think the details were worth discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet.  Instead, the mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to preserve some health plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare benefit and redistribution mandates.  Our sources only noticed the change this week.

The full article is HERE.

And for another perspective, this one from the pundits at Hot Air, click HERE.

ObamaCare will be Goring the Union Ox as well

From Megan McArdle, earlier this week:

The second problem is that the 40 percent excise tax on especially expensive plans — the so-called Cadillac tax — is going to hit union plans especially hard.  Unlike most people negotiating compensation, union negotiators make an explicit trade-off between wages and other benefits, and the benefit that they seem most attached to is generous health plans.  Union plans are made more expensive still because union membership is heavily skewed toward older workers.  They are thus very likely to get hit by the Cadillac tax, which takes effect in 2018.

And the third problem is that Obamacare undercuts one of the key benefits of being in a union.  Take a low-wage service worker who is currently insured through her union’s multi-employer plan.  If she went to work for a nonunion shop, she could get a substantial wage hike, use part of it to buy a heavily subsidized exchange policy, and still be better off.  As I heard one expert say, Obamacare turns health insurance from an organizing tool to a disorganizing tool.

No wonder the unions are mad.  What’s amazing is that they supported Obamacare with just vague assurances from the Barack Obama administration that it would fix everything later.

Yeah.  My heart bleeds for the Unions.  Do you see what looks like a period at the end of the last sentence?  It really is the world’s tinyest violinist playing the world’s saddest song on the the world’s tinyest violin.

But look for our lawless President, maybe just after the November-2016 elections, to just wave his wand and lift the Unions’ burden.  And if you want to read the whole thing, click HERE.

ObamaCare to Illegally Bail Out Health Insurers Soon?

GangstaGuvThe “Risk Corridor” program is a measure written into the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) for the purpose of protecting health insurance providers from the very situation that we see unfolding today.  Too small a number of young, healthy people are proving to be stupid enough to enroll in the ACA, so the health insurance companies are not seeing enough revenue from these “invincibles” to fully subsidize the health care costs of the older, less healthy people.  The Risk Corridor program was a provision in the law that would provide offsetting payments to the health insurance companies if this happened.  However, the ObamaCare law specifically limits this program to the first three years, and therefore expires on December 31, 2016, shortly after the next presidential election.

Now comes word from Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner that:

The Obama Administration may extend beyond 2016 a federal reimbursement program for health insurance companies that lose money by participating in the newly created health care exchanges.

Industry insiders told the Washington Examiner a plan to extend the Affordable Care Act’s “risk corridors” are under discussion, but that administration officials have not made a final decision.

The full article at the Washington Examiner is HERE, and for another more detailed perspective, check out THIS piece from columnist Megan McArdle.

Treasury, IRS, HHS Conspired to Create an Unauthorized, Half-Trillion Dollar Entitlement within ObamaCare

Michael Cannon at Forbes is reporting on a big revelation in the ongoing investigations (and litigation) over ObamaCare:GangstaGuv

In early 2011, Treasury and IRS officials realized they had a problem.  They unanimously believed Congress had intended to authorize certain taxes and subsidies in all states, whether or not a state opted to establish a health insurance “exchange” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  At the same time, agency officials recognized: (1) the PPACA plainly does not allow those taxes and subsidies in non-establishing states; (2) the law’s legislative history offers no support for their theory that Congress intended to allow them in non-establishing states; and (3) Congress had not given the agencies authority to treat non-establishing states the same as establishing states.

Nevertheless, agency officials agreed, again with apparent unanimity, to impose those taxes and dispense those subsidies in states with federal Exchanges, the undisputed plain meaning of the PPACA notwithstanding.  Treasury, IRS, and HHS officials simply rewrote the law to create a new, unauthorized entitlement program …

The full article, well worth the time to read, is HERE.

Taking Up The POTUS Challenge — The 2017 Project

In a further reponse to President Obama’s SOTU challenge to Republicans to offer up a viable alternative, and coming only two weeks after the introduction of the Burr / Coburn / Hatch ObamaCare Replacement Plan, Bill Kristol and Jeff Anderson have posted in the Weekly Standard on another ObamaCare replacement plan, this one from The 2017 Project, a think tank headed by Anderson.

From the Introduction:

Before Obamacare, Americans had three core concerns with our health-care system, and a victorious alternative needs to offer compelling solutions to all three:  the large number of people without insurance; the no-man’s-land plight of those who are uninsured and have expensive pre-existing conditions; and the high cost of care.  To a large extent, the solution to all three problems involves fixing what the federal government had already broken even before liberal politicians defied public opinion and rammed Obamacare into law, making things far worse.

The two-page Executive Summary for the new plan is HERE, and the text of the full plan is HERE, both in PDF form.

Sooo, It’s All In The Way You Look At It?

The Obama administration has come into a lot of well-deserved derision for trying to spin the recent CBO report that postulates the effect of ObamaCare on the labor force over the next decade.  I actually feel a little sorry for the desperation exhibited by some of them, ‘though.

Take Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) for example, who said in an interview with MSNBC, “You could say people don’t want a promotion, because if they make more money they’ll have to pay more taxes.”

Which reminded me of a rural farm neighbor of ours who, upon hearing my father declare that he had to leave because dusk was approaching and his hogs needed to be fed, said “I sure am glad I don’t have any hogs to feed.”

Or the Castro government’s assertion on the State-owned Cuban television in 1969 that the nation’s meat ration had been cut because Cuban nutrition scientists had discovered that eating meat caused cancer.

Just when you think that the absurdity had topped Mount Everest, you can count on the Obama administration to reach a new high.

ObamaCare’s Employer Mandate Extended Again

This afternoon, the White House announced that it would give employers with between 50 and 99 employees another year to provide health GangstaGuvinsurance to their workers.  This would make them exempt until January 1, 2016.

From the article in the Washington Post, written by reporters Juliet Eilperin and Amy Goldstein:

Firms with at least 100 employees will have to start offering this coverage in 2015.

By offering an unexpected grace period to businesses with between 50 and 99 employees, administration officials are hoping to defuse another potential controversy involving the 2010 health-care law, which has become central to Republicans’ campaign to make political gains in this year’s midterm election.

Even the nation’s largest employers got a significant concession: They can avoid a fine [ $2,000 per worker ] by offering coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95 percent starting in 2016.  Under an earlier proposal, employers with at least 50 employees would have been required to offer insurance, beginning 2015, to 95 percent of those who work 30 hours or more a week, along with their dependents.

No reliance on Congress for legislative support, of course, because the President has a pen with which to sign an executive order.  If your blood pressure will take it, the full article is HERE.

Obama May Let Individual Health Insurance Policyholders Keep The Coverage For Another Three Years

From an Associated Press ARTICLE today (02/06/2014):

The Obama administration is considering an extension of the president’s decision to let people keep their individual insurance policies even if they GangstaGuvare not compliant with the health care overhaul, according to two top industry officials.

Avalere Health CEO Dan Mendelson said Thursday that the administration may let policyholders keep that coverage for an additional three years, stressing that no decision has been made. Policymakers are waiting to see what rate hikes health insurers plan for the insurance exchanges that are key to the overhaul’s coverage expansions.

The Burr / Coburn / Hatch ObamaCare Replacement Plan

Who says the Republicans have no health care proposals!  What follows is the entire text of James Capretta’s article from yesterday in The Weekly Standard:

As Bill Kristol and Jeff Anderson noted earlier today, the introduction by Republican Senators Burr, Coburn, and Hatch of an Obamacare replacement plan is an important milestone in the health care debate.  This is a serious and practical replacement proposal, offered by three prominent legislators.  It could easily serve as the starting point for a legislative effort, perhaps even next year if Republicans regain control of the Senate, to undo Obamacare and replace it with something far better.

This plan is well thought out substantively and politically.  It would cover ten of millions of Americans with private insurance, solve the pre-existing condition problem, inject cost discipline into the marketplace, and begin the process of reforming the nation’s massive health entitlement problems.  And it would do all this without unduly disrupting current insurance arrangements (including employer plans), and without the federal power grab or massive spending and taxes of Obamacare.

The plan would solve the pre-existing problem, which is real but not nearly as widespread as the president would like Americans to believe it is, in a manner that is something like the opposite of the Obamacare approach.  The irony of Obamacare is that it makes insurance less desirable as a product by requiring insurers to sell it to anyone who comes in the door, regardless of their health status.  This means consumers have far less incentive to get coverage when they are healthy because they know they can sign up when they are sick without penalty.  The Obamacare solution is to try to compel enrollment through the individual mandate tax.

The Burr-Coburn-Hatch approach makes insurance attractive by attaching a new and unambiguous right to continuous insurance enrollment: anyone who stays insured will be allowed to move between insurance platforms without facing higher premiums based on their health status. This right, already operative when Americans move between employer groups, is not in place when Americans move from employer plans to the individual market (the 1996 law that smoothed the transition between employer plans was also supposed to improve the situation for transitions from job-based plans to the individual market, but it did not work for a number of reasons). Senators Burr, Coburn, and Hatch propose to clear away the current obstacles and ensure those with continuous insurance can buy a product in the individual market without facing higher premiums based on pre-existing health conditions.

They also understand that granting this right will likely drive up costs in the near term, as some people who have felt compelled to stay in the employer system to keep their insurance would exit for the individual market because of this new protection. To keep costs down, state high risk pools, with additional federal funding, would help stabilize premiums during a transition period.

The Burr-Coburn-Hatch reform also deftly handles the issue of the tax preference for employer coverage.  Proponents of a market-based solution for American health care have long pointed to this tax preference as a major distortion in the marketplace.  And that criticism is of course accurate.  But it is unwise to propose abandoning the tax preference altogether in favor of a universal credit, as Senator McCain did in the 2008 presidential race.  Such a move would be perceived today, as it was in 2008, as disrupting coverage for tens of millions of people who are perfectly satisfied with their existing employer plans.

The three senators have proposed a far more sensible approach this time around.  They would leave the employer tax preference in place, and thus not displace any of the stable employer plans in force today.  The only change would be to put a reasonable upper limit on the tax preference, to encourage employers and workers to select cost effective coverage.

The Senators then provide a refundable tax credit to anyone who works in a small firm or who doesn’t have access to employer coverage at all with incomes between 100 and 300 percent of the federal poverty line.  This ensures that everyone who is uninsured and low income today will have the financial wherewithal to get insurance that, at a minimum, protects them from major medical expenses. With this credit, the Burr-Coburn-Hatch plan can rightfully be called a genuine universal coverage plan, with every American ensured of reasonable access to an insurance plan.

The final key piece of the legislation is Medicaid reform. A major problem of American health care is that Medicaid is not integrated with mainstream insurance for working families. So someone on Medicaid who gets a better paying job often will lose his current insurance and may not get new coverage through his place of work. The Burr-Coburn-Hatch plan would give states much greater flexibility to use Medicaid as a supplement to the federal tax credit for insurance. This would allow lower income households to buy from the same coverage options as middle class households, and thus get the better provider networks that those insurance plans offer and to keep the same insurance as they move into better paying jobs.

Polls continue to show that far more Americans disapprove of Obamacare than approve of it.  But that does not mean Americans want to go back to the pre-Obamacare status quo.  What the public wants is real reform, the kind that will actually solve the problems that have been present for many years in American health care, without all of the big government baggage of Obamacare.  The Burr-Coburn-Hatch plan demonstrates conclusively that such a plan exists and could be passed by Congress under the right political circumstances.  Getting the word out about this realistic plan to save the country from Obamacare might be the most important thing conservatives could do in the 2014 election cycle.

The complete text of the Burr/Coburn/Hatch proposal is HERE.  I especially like Section 101.

I Cannot Tell A Lie. Well, Maybe Just This Once.

At the Daily Caller blog, Mickey Kaus notes that, since the ObamaCare subsidies are based on AGI, there will be a large incentive for some to fudge the numbers on their tax return, particularly for those who can do so most easily, meaning folks who are self-employed.  In the example he cites, the “bronze” policy premium for a Californian with an AGI of $46K is $507/month.  If the same Californian had an AGI of $25K, he/she would pay $63.  Lemme think, now …

As If We Need Another Entitlement Time Bomb

If the guvmint is to be believed, about 1,600,000 Americans have now enrolled in ObamaCare, but over 91% of them (1.46M) have done so by being added to the Medicaid rolls.  Almost 8 cents out of every dollar that the federal government spends goes to Medicaid already, and that totals more than $265 billion per year.

For the rest of the bad news, check out the complete New York Post story, HERE.