US Appeals Court Throws Out IRS Rule on Obamacare Subsidies

President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul suffered a potentially crippling blow as a U.S. appeals court ruled the government can’t give financial assistance to anyone buying coverage on the insurance marketplace run by federal authorities.

The decision, if it withstands appeals, may deprive more than half the people who signed up for Obamacare the tax credits they need to buy a health plan.

Read More at Newsmax

Territories Free of Obamacare

On no legal basis, all 4.5 million residents of the five U.S. territories were quietly released from Obamacare.

The original House and Senate bills that became the Affordable Care Act included funding for insurance exchanges in these territories, as President Obama promised when as a Senator he campaigned in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other 2008 Democratic primaries. But the $14.5 billion in subsidies for the territories were dumped in 2010 as ballast when Democrats needed to claim the law reduced the deficit.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

New Challenge for Obamacare: Enrollees Who Don’t Understand Their Insurance Plans

Nine months after Americans began signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, a challenging new phase is emerging as confused enrollees clamor for help in understanding their coverage.

Read more at The Washington Post

Taking the Boss Out Of Healthcare

Employer-provided insurance can be problematic because consumers of it don’t see the real cost of healthcare, paving the way for overuse. Basing insurance in employment also means that if you separate from your job, you also can lose your insurance. Once that happens, it can be difficult to obtain replacement coverage, especially with a pre-existing condition, according to Wednesday’s National Review Online.

Could a workplace exist where workers co-exist with management, the type who allows them to individually make their own healthcare choices? A shift away from employer-based health insurance could arguably mean an end to the fight over religious liberty versus contraceptive coverage. It also means moving toward an individual and mobile type of insurance which is separate from a person’s job.

The article reveals how in 1953 the IRS held that employer-provided health insurance is not the equivalent of wage compensation for taxation purposes. As a result, Americans had to obtain health insurance though their place of employment ─ giving workplace bosses full discretion to pick and choose what is available in health plans.

Today 58.4 percent of workers are on their employer’s plans, versus a peak of 71.4 percent in 1980.

Read more at the National Review Online

Obamacare’s Legal Waterloo?

Whether the Obama administration participates or not, the ACA’s ultimate future success or failure could be determined by the federal courts soon, according to a Monday article in the National Review Online.

Obamacare has had its share of legal and legislative challenges, as well as start-up and rollout woes. Thus far, the tally in the plus column is nothing to brag about, especially in lieu of the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case. What will happen in over 30 states if insurance subsidies are deemed to be both unlawful and unconstitutional?

The federal court is due to hear, then rule on Halbig v. Burwell, a case getting to heart of the Affordable Care Act, specifically the government exchanges established to subsidize health insurance for lower earning consumers.

Individual states could simply set up their own exchanges, which could serve as a wake-up call to the Obama administration, meaning it will have to legitimately work with Congress on ACA issues. Another jolt could come from both the House and Senate becoming Republican.

Obamacare has been amended on 23 occasions ─ without congressional approval.

Read more at National Review Online

Better Healthcare Not Adding Up To Savings

Conventional healthcare wisdom claims improved healthcare prevention equals increased consumer savings. Yet, the New England Journal of Medicine recently found that less than 20 percent out of 279 preventative strategies curtailed healthcare costs. Others resulted in varied amounts of increased costs.

According to The New York Times article of July 14, the goal of the Affordable Care Act when first passed, was for more people to get healthcare coverage. Ironically, when it comes to increasing access to emergency care, for example, related costs actually increase. Improved access does not always save money.

Healthcare innovations such as child immunizations and newborn screening actually save money but are actually somewhat rare.

Read more at The New York Times

Obamacare’s Gender Inequality

According to an article in Tuesday’s Forbes.com, some women-owned businesses, which are experiencing financial difficulty due to the Obamacare tax, include tanning salons.

Buried in the 2,000 pages that make up the Affordable Care Act, is a tax on medical devices and UV tanning services. Some are calling this a de facto sin tax which invariably discriminates against both the female owners and workers employed in such establishments.

Part of this composite financial picture is the large number of businesses owned by women. Between 1997 and 2007 female-operated businesses grew by 44 percent, to 7.8 million, according to the Los Angeles Times and Department of Commerce.

Read more at Forbes

Google’s Healthcare Brush-Off?

While 21st healthcare beginning in 2010, with passage of the Affordable Care Act, Google, the tech giant, finds itself shaken by the prospect of potentially having to tackle the nebulous web of federal ACA-based healthcare regulations. While priding itself on its youthful and forward, versus retro, corporate world vision, having taken on such daunting hi-tech innovations such as ”Google Glass” and driverless cars, its can-do almost anything attitude now diminishes at the prospect of employing its own technology to become a “health company”.

Co-founder Larry Page’s response has been that while glucose-sensing contact lenses are hip, he would rather work on “cool” projects – and none of them is about healthcare.

Read more at Forbes

Company Would Rather Pay Than Obey

2014 marks the fourth year of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). Much of its controversy concerns the effects of its Employer Mandate on large and small business. A report by Net Right Daily (July 7) recounts how the ACA provision holds that employers must (with 50 or more employees) must
provide coverage to their employees. When the time comes, if this requirement is not met, a $2,000 fine awaits them. That’s for each employee.

The mandate has had some investors and businesses thinking for some time. Some enterprises may actually opt to leave the U.S. to avoid it altogether. Joining in this latest controversy is Ohio-based and Carl Icahn owned, PSC Metals and The United Steelworkers. The steelworker’s union director, David McCall says, “The ACA was never intended to be used by employers as an excuse to deprive workers of insurance, yet Carl Icahn would rather pay than negotiate a contract.” The question now is not only whether companies will dump employer coverage, but how many will dump It altogether. Icahn, for his part, would rather pay than provide. Icahn plans to end employer-based coverage by 2015.

Read more at Net Right Daily

Divorce, Obamacare Style

Opponents of state-level Medicaid expansion generally deem the program as too costly. This is in spite of the fact that reducing the numbers of the uninsured can actually benefit a state. According to Think Progress (July 7) generous federal funding is available to those states open
to Medicaid growth. For example, were it to climb on board, Tennessee would receive over $ 9.4 billion in revenue starting this year and into 2019. Tennessee’s refusal of such funds is now grounds for divorce for one elderly couple.

Think Progress tells the story of Larry and Linda Drain who were married for 33 years. They live apart, because they have no other way to ensure that Linda can get the medical care she needs for her epilepsy. Tennessee lawmakers have thus far refused to implement Obamacare. Linda Drain is jobless and unemployable due to her condition. Without health insurance she can’t get the medication she needs. The Drains also fall into what’s known as the “coverage gap”: they make too much money to qualify for TennCare, Tennessee’s public insurance program. They also make too little to receive federal subsidies to buy a plan on Obamacare’s new private marketplace.

Read more at Think Progress