The Affordable Care Act remains very much unpopular with the conservative base of the Republican Party. The result has been pressure building against Sen. Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., — to repeal Obamacare. A recent report by David Sherfinski in the Washington Times (online, Dec. 8) also says, “more immediately, conservatives are also channeling their energy to try to get Republicans on Capitol Hill to use the power of the purse to block President Obama’s recently-announced executive actions on immigration.”
For his part, McConnell has indicated his goal of casting his vote to repeal the ACA – but he is waiting for the new Republican majority to be seated on Capitol Hill – in January, 2015. Yet McConnell does advise, “people should be realistic about what to expect in the way of repeal with President Obama still in the White House,” adding, “We certainly will have a vote on proceeding to a bill to repeal Obamacare. . . . It was a very large issue in the campaign,” this according to the Washington Times citing Roll Call. McConnell concluded, “We’re certainly gonna keep our commitment to the American people to make every effort we can to repeal it.
The Washington Times report says 79 senators, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren do not approve of the Medical Device Tax, and that McConnell has vowed to not repeat what occurred last fall, when conservative initiatives to gut Obamacare funds contributed in part to a partial federal government shutdown.
A report on The National Memo webpage (Dec. 9) – - citing the Tribune News Service – - quotes a now humble Jonathan Gruber, the outspoken MIT professor who some regard as an “Obamacare Architect” – - “I behaved badly, and I will have to live with that.” Gruber offered this apology at the congressional level — to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The Committee is headed up by Rep. Darrell Issa, R.-Calif. Gruber’s apology continued in an even more humbled vein, “But my own inexcusable arrogance is not a flaw in the Affordable Care Act. The ACA is a milestone accomplishment for our nation that already has provided millions of Americans with health insurance.”
According to The National Memo, Gruber is an economist, serving as an adviser to the Obama Whitehouse during the years 2009 to 2010. Videos in which he makes cynical, negative remarks about voters and the formulation of the Affordable Care Act – are by now legendary. The most notorious being the one in which he derides and describes the “stupidity” of the American voter.
In a separate video, Gruber intimates that those living in states dependent upon the feds to operate healthcare insurance exchanges, “are not eligible for tax subsidies, a key tool in the law that allows millions of Americans to buy health coverage on these marketplaces,” The National Memo Reports.
Politically speaking, Grubers remarks have fueled the fires of Republican Opponents of Obamacare. While at the same time, says The National Memo, Gruber’s ACA viewpoints are arming those ultimately seeking legal challenges to such tax credits.
According to Betsey McCaughey of the Committee to Reduce Infection, actuaries at the federal level forecast health-related expenditures will now average some 6 percent per year; this is through the year 2023. This winds up driving total health care spending to 19.3 of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In her recent New York Post article (Dec. 9), she also points out this number is actually up from 16.6 percent “pre-ObamaCare.” McCaughey also claims federal actuaries also found that federal health spending crept up by some 3.6 percent in the year 2013 — a marginal improvement.
For her part, McCaughey, who is also a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, does not mince words, saying, “The ObamaCare lies keep coming. In two highly publicized announcements last week, top Obama health officials claimed the Affordable Care Act is slowing health care spending and improving hospital safety. The media parroted these boasts, but the evidence shows they’re bogus.”
McCaughey’s contributed piece also historically examines the real slowing of health care spending, citing its actual origins back to 2009, making the case that it was emergent long before Obamacare’s passage. Health spending slowed to 3.8 percent rise that year, “and stayed at that slow pace in 2010,” according to McCaughey. She later concludes, “Instead of lying about Obamacare, some top Democrats are taking another tack, distancing themselves from this increasingly toxic issue. Shrewd politicians like Sens. Charles Schumer, D-NY, and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, can spot a loser.”
A fresh report by Paul McDougall posted on The International Business Times website, Dec. 14, says that in the just over one year period since the well-publicized botched rollout of Obamacare on Healthcare.gov, “potentially serious glitches remain.” This quote in the IBT report comes directly from Robert Booz, Vice President and an analyst at Gartner – a consulting firm. Booz, prophetically adds, “It’s the holiday season and people have put off enrollment to the last minute, so there is going to be a crunch.”
McDougall’s IBT article additionally relates, since 2013, “more than 6 million consumers have purchased health insurance, many for the first time, through HealthCare.gov and the site’s performance has markedly improved. But with Monday’s deadline looming for individual enrollment for 2015 coverage, this weekend marks the first big stress test since a new tech team overhauled HealthCare.gov.”
The Open Enrollment period for new purchasers on Healthcare.gov began this past Nov. 29. As things stand now, those who still have plans obtained through the website do not need to act in any way to retain that plan. Heathcare.gov does permit people in some states to purchase their plans directly, or it redirects them to websites controlling their own health insurance marketplaces. Those too have had widely publicized issues. For example, Oregon recently fired Oracle, and then went to the federal site.
IBT also says, 1.3 million plus health insurance customers have relates more than 1.3 million consumers have selected plans since open enrollment began. On top of now well-known computer delays in the Fall of 2013, with Helathcare.gov, call centers greeted potential customers with messages to try telephoning at another time. Backup call centers, according to IBT, were equally overwhelmed. IBT also reveals, “Software glitches prevented the calculation of subsidies for those lucky enough to get through, and many individuals who thought they’d bought a plan later found out otherwise from their insurer.” For his part, Booz says, “It’s not going to crash and burn this time.”
While often reported from a national perspective, the Affordable Care Act remains as a state-level story. This time, it’s New Jersey. Chris Glorioso and Evan Stulberger report on the NBC New York website (Dec. 15) by quoting Pro Publica Senior Health Reporter, Charles Ornstein, “Just because you had a great plan this year with a good premium that you can afford and you really like the benefits that they afford does not mean that it will exist in the same form next year.”
In the Garden State this translates as only eight New Jersey ACA plans reducing their premiums – for 2015. Many of the less-expensive plans available in New Jersey “have compensated by steeply raising out-of-pocket charges for things like medications and emergency room visits,” according to the NBC New York report. One plan, known as Health Republic Prime Silver will cost less – by nearly $75.00 each month, in 2015. Yet, the plan transfers emergency room expenses to the consumer.
The NBC New York account also relates the findings of its “I-Team”, uncovering the story of Bayonne New Jersey resident and his insurance carrier. They were billed $9,000 for a finger cut. In this instance, an injury not requiring stitches.
When it comes to healthcare, having to live under the same conditions as everyone else, may be causing some problems on Capitol Hill. Some Lawmakers in Washington now find themselves in a “tricky situation” – according to a new report in the Hill (online, Dec. 10). Elsie Viebeck, writing in the Hill elaborates, those staff members working for Senate Republicans will now be required to get their health insurance coverage through the Obamacare exchanges (or marketplaces as they are sometimes also known). This comes at the behest of a new requirement as promulgated by the GOP Conference, Weds. Dec. 10.
The reasoning for such a requirement is perhaps best summed up by Sen. David Vitter, R.-La. “Washington should have to live under Obamacare just like everybody else until we repeal it. And we won’t be complicit in Obama’s illegal rule designed to protect Washington insiders.”
Vitter is regarded by some as a vocal opponent of some legislators choice(s) to keep their respective staffs from obtaining health insurance on the ACA-based exchanges.
Also, according to the Hill web page, Vitter took credit for the GOP Conference passing the new rule. “Republican senators made a strong, principled statement today in passing my resolution.”
One lingering question is whether congressional / senate staffers will continue to receive monetary assistance to defray the expense of their coverage. A loophole permits lawmakers to label staff as “unofficial” or “official staff,” allowing them to retain their health insurance coverage under the umbrella of the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.
Author examines the statements of Jonathan Gruber and argues that the Obama administration deliberately lied to the American people and that Obama’s dogmatic ideological fervor led to acts of corruption and lawlessness regarding the creation and deployment of Obamacare.
The administration deliberately and premeditatedly mischaracterized the nature of the mandate to the (the Congressional Budget Office (as a penalty and not as a tax); otherwise, by Gruber’s admission, the bill would have died.
A report by Kim Dixon in the Politico (online) of Dec. 2, says the IRS is gearing up in an effort to try and determine (literally) who has health insurance and who does not – under the Affordable Care Act. For the time being, says Politico about the Internal Revenue Service is “giving people the benefit of the doubt.”
However, with IRS generosity comes a tax note of caution: Beginning in January, 2015 individuals will have to reveal on their income tax forms whether or not they actually have health insurance coverage – or not. Thus says Politico, “The IRS will have to figure out who is covered and who is fibbing to avoid the Affordable Care Act’s penalty for not holding insurance.”
The seminal healthcare interrogatory will be found on Line 61 of the 1040 Form – for 2014; it’s entitled “Healthcare: Individual Responsibility.”
Congressional trackers anticipate about 4 million persons will wind up owing the fine (or tax) for not having health insurance coverage, as mandated by Obamacare – - in 2016.
New ACA-based controversy, this time regarding lawyers. According to a Daily Caller Report of Nov. 24 (online) one way to deal with those who are opposed your own point of view on the Affordable Care Act is to silence them. The Daily Caller reports that Jonathan Turley – - cable news show guest and “liberal law professor”, is now working and advocating for Republicans, specifically on the issue of Obamacare. This means he is also, according to The Daily Caller, “representing the House GOP in its lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s implementation of Obamacare and at least one House Democrat wants him punished for it.” For his part, Turley who is a Law Professor at George Washington University law professor, and a frequently-seen “media commentator on political issues”, as the Daily Caller describes him; also regards himself as being liberal politically. Yet, he is one of Obamacare’s biggest and sharpest critics; thus he quickly advantage of the opportunity to represent like-minded ACA opponents.
Rep. Robert Brady, D.Pa., wants Turley reigned in, saying, “Given that Mr. Turley extensively participates in various media forums, including writing his own blog, would it not be better to prohibit Mr. Turley from making any media appearances in which he comments on the extent of the executive authority of the President in any context whatsoever during the pendency of this case?” Brady also asks, “[W]ould it not better protect the interests of the House if Mr. Turley was prohibited from making statements, granting interviews or otherwise conferring with any member of the media or media organization for a period of years following the conclusion of this case?” His questions were posed in a letter he wrote Rep. Candice Miller, who is chairman of the House Administration Committee – and also a Republican from Michigan.
Michael Hiltzik – who has previously written about America’s ongoing healthcare issues, raises a question – - in the Los Angeles Times (online, Dec. 3) – - as to whether the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is more commonly known, has de facto destroyed the Democratic Party in The United States? This question according to the L.A. times report was raised in an opinion piece, recently – by Thomas B. Edsall, in The New York Times. His opinion piece cites the now well-publicized remark by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.
One of Schumer’s chief Obamacare gripes contends (as Edsall clairifies in his New York Times piece): “Had we started more broadly, the middle class would have been more receptive to the idea that President Obama wanted to help them. The initial faith they placed in him would have been rewarded. They would have held a more pro-government view and would have given him the permission structure to build a more pro-government coalition. Then Democrats would have been in a better position to tackle our nation’s health care crisis.”
Schumer has also offered up ACA analysis which the Edsall’s New York Times piece intros as “pure political calculation.” Schumer said in that way, about Obamacare: “Only a third of the uninsured are even registered to vote. In 2010 only about 40 percent of those registered voted. So even if the uninsured kept with the rate, which they likely did not, we would still only be talking about only 5 percent of the electorate. To aim a huge change in mandate at such a small percentage of the electorate made no political sense. So when Democrats focused on health care, the average middle-class person thought, the Democrats are not paying enough attention to ‘me.’”
For his part, Hidzik makes the claim that Edsall cited Hidzik’s “own critical analysis of Schumer’s remarks.”