It could be argued that Congress is taking advantage of all chances “for heated debate over not just the legality of subsidies, but the value of the law itself,” according to a recent report in Government Executive (online, 6/16, by Caitlin Owens).
To be certain, competing views are rushing to the healthcare debate forefront, sparking the controversy over just what about Obamacare is beneficial for the average consumer – – or not. – This is before the U.S. Supreme Court rules in King v. Burwell.
For example, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s, R-Calif., office issued a memo in May of this year, saying: ”With the economic downturn and rising healthcare costs, seniors, like so many other Americans, have seen their finances spread thin. Obamacare makes it even worse.”
On another ACA front, many see the repeal of the Medical Device Tax as a tangible benefit, others aren’t so sure. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently said such a repeal, “would increase the deficit to finance a permanent and costly tax break for industry without improving the health system of helping middle-class Americans.”
Caitlin’s Government Executive Report also says, “Each side hopes to have the last word in the ear of the public prior to the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision, and by bringing bills to the floor this week, the GOP messaging rings out loud and clear: Regardless of the Court’s decision in King v. Burwell, the Affordable Care Act is a bad law.”
More than one will bill will soon appear on the congressional floor calling for the restructuring of Medicare Advantage – according to Government Executive.
No respondents in a new survey by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) are shouting “Author! Author!” If anything, they’re blaming inherent flaws in the 2010 Affordable Care Act its creators’ doorsteps. According to recent online story in the Daily Caller (by Connor D. Wolf, 6/15) “Participants in the survey, totaling 715 federal exchange enrollees from all 34 states without their own exchanges, were asked their opinions on several key aspects of the law. Along with blaming authors of the law for its problems, participants also noted several other problems they want lawmakers to address. The report found that over 80 percent of exchange enrollees want to get rid of the open enrollment window and nearly 70 percent want subsidies available outside of the Obamacare exchanges.”
Additional FGA survey findings show that respondents want Uncle Sam to fix Obamacare “fundamentally,” meaning, they have no desire to see states goaded into repairing the healthcare law piecemeal. According to Wolf’s Daily Caller story, that word comes specifically from Tarren Bragdon, president of FGA.
If recent polling is any indication, the U.S. Supreme Court may not rank especially high in the trust and fairness departments, at least when it comes to its anticipated (June, 2015) ruling in King v. Burwell.
According to a recent report in the New York Daily News (online, May 11) which cites an Associated Press-GfK poll, “. . . 44 percent prefer that Congress leave the law as is and let states decide whether they want to create insurance exchanges that would allow their residents to receive subsidies.”
For its part the Obama White House says that many of their Affordable Care Act adversaries just simply misinterpret Obamacare, by honing in on very small portion(s) of it. Here too, perception, and that perception as enumerated in polling numbers may be of significance – especially as they relate to the High Court’s trustworthiness. The New York Daily News explains further, “In a twist, the poll found that opponents of the law, who tend to be politically conservative, have less confidence in the objectivity of a court with a conservative majority. Among foes, 60 percent are not confident, compared with 44 percent of the law’s supporters.”
And as to the now well-publicized Obamacare federal subsidies, the New York Daily News adds, “Regardless of how the public feels about the court’s internal deliberations, a majority wants the justices to allow subsidies to continue flowing in all 50 states, an opinion in line with the administration’s position.”
What’s in a name? Or, what’s in a now famous court case, with an equally famous case name (or style as it is known in legal circles). A great deal – possibly – according to a Washington Examiner piece by senior political analyst Michael Barone (Mar. 9).
Barone who is also a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) intimates that the fact King versus Burwell is even around is ”remarkably politically. For the framers of Obamacare certainly did not expect 36 states to reject the blandishment of federal subsidies and refuse to set up state exchanges.”
By way of historical background, Barone elaborates, “For example, after Medicaid was passed in 1965, 37 states joined the program within two years and by January 1970 only two held out—Alaska, which joined in 1972, and Arizona, which held out until 1982. In the 1980s, as Congress (largely through the backroom work of Henry Waxman) increased the states’ required Medicaid spending, many governors grumbled but no state dropped out of the program.”
Barone adds, “In contrast, after the Supreme Court let states reject Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, 22 states did so. And 36 states refused to set up state health insurance exchanges, despite Obamacare’s “established by the state” language.”
The fact that governors and legislative bodies in some states are willing to pass up money from the feds is demonstrative of “an increasing mistrust of centralized command-and-control government,” says Barone.
The United States Supreme Court won’t hear the case concerning validity of the Obamacare health insurance subsidies until March 2015. According to a report in the Financial Times (online, of Nov. 12, 2014) some ACA proponents suggest that it will still be okay for many to continue with their Obamacare application process, that if the Supreme Court rules against subsidies next year, they will not have to be paid back.
The FT report by Brainna Ehley cites a Brookings Institute Blog by Stuart Butler, a senior fellow there, who is quoted as saying, “If the Court does strike down federal insurance subsidies in states with federal rather than state-run exchanges that would be quite a body blow. At the very least it would eliminate a central plank of the ACA in over 30 states.”