The website launched on a Tuesday.
Publicly, the government said there were 4.7 million unique visits in the first 24 hours. But at a meeting Wednesday morning,
the war room notes say "six enrollments have occurred so far." Full story...
When Trader Joe's
announced it was dropping health benefits for part-time workers, it reassured them that they'd be no worse off as a result.
believe that with the $500 from Trader Joe's and the tax credits available under the (Affordable Care Act), many of you should
be able to obtain health care coverage at very little if any net cost to you," noted CEO Dan Bane in a memo to employees
revealed this week.
In other words, Trader Joe's — like some other companies — has decided to shift its health
care costs onto federal taxpayers via the subsidizedObamaCare insurance exchanges.
specialty grocer's move adds further evidence that ObamaCare will cost far more than the $1.4 trillion currently forecast,
as businesses and governments find ways to transfer their employee health costs onto the federal government, and as millions
of other workers find they can get a better deal in the taxpayer-subsidized exchanges.
A Moving Target
Earlier this year,
theCongressional Budget Office predictedthat 7 million workers will lose their employer-based coverage as a result
of ObamaCare, forcing them into the exchanges. That was nearly double the CBO's previous forecast.
recent evidence suggests the CBO's projection is still far too low. That would mean its cost forecasts also are far too low.
Employers are also
looking to drop early retiree coverage and spousal benefits to save costs. More than 60% said they're considering this for
retirees so they can "take advantage of the law," an Aon Hewitt survey found.
Local governments, too, have been eyeing
ObamaCare as a way to reduce their bloated pension costs. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled plans in May to push 30,000
city retirees into the ObamaCare exchanges, saving the city $108 million a year.
Others are likely to follow suit,
since doing so "offers a very high-quality, potentially very affordable way to get people into health care without the
burden falling back onto the city and town," Neil Bomberg of the National League of Cities told the New York Times.
these governments do so, ObamaCare's price tag will climb even higher.
Meanwhile, a study published this
week in the journal Health Affairs finds that 37 million workers could decide to quit their employer plans on their own because
they can get a better deal through ObamaCare's taxpayer-subsidized exchanges.
employer mandate is among the new laws most anti-growth provisions. When implemented, it will force most American businesses
to offer government-approved health insurance to their employees or else pay new federal taxes for not doing so. This costly
new requirement will make it more expensive for firms to hire workers in the future. Consequently, it will destroy jobs, and
many firms are likely to slow down on hiring in anticipation of its implementation.
ObamaCare does not impose a straight-forward
requirement that employers offer health insurance to workers. Proponents of the new law wanted to avoid the charge that the
new law was directly imposing new costs on American business. So, instead, they created a back-door mandate, what they call
the “free-rider” provision.
a firm with at least 50 workers has a full-time employee who is getting federally-subsided insurance through an ”exchange,”
then that employer must pay a penalty for failing to offer that worker acceptable insurance on the job. (Workers that are
offered qualified coverage by an employer are ineligible for the new insurance subsidies provided in the exchanges.)
The tax is scheduled to begin in 2014
and the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will bring in approximately $10 billion in annual revenue once it’s
Penalties For Failure To Insure
For firms which do not offer insurance any insurance, have more than 50 employees, and have at least one employee
receiving insurance subsidies, they must pay a tax of $2000 per subsidized employee. The tax is applied to all of a firm’s
employees (after excluding the first 30), not just those that are subsidized. For example a firm with 51 employees would pay
$42,000 in new annual taxes, and an additional $2,000 tax for every new hire.
For firms that do offer insurance, the penalty is the lesser of $2,000 for every
employee (after exempting the first 30) or $3,000) for every employee receiving a subsidy.
The National Federation of Independent Business has a clear and informative
table which examines the taxes assessed under different scenarioshere.
mandate will discourage business development and growth. Small firms with 50 or fewer workers will have very strong disincentives
to expand. These businesses can avoid the new penalties by staying small; growth will simply add new costs and burdens. Many
businesses with low profit margins are unable to pay the substantial cost of providing comprehensive insurance to all of their
employees or the new taxes under ObamaCare’s employer mandate. Once companies reach 50 employees, they are likely to
turn to contractors and outsource work to evade the new mandate, even if such arrangements are less efficient than directly
hiring new workers.
Part-Time and Seasonal Employees
Fines to employers under the employer mandate also are imposed on workers who are not full-time employees, where
a combination of employees working 120 hours per month (around 30 hours per week) count as one employee. This provision in
the bill especially hurts seasonal businesses, where it is frequently not cost effective to provide insurance benefits to
an employee who will only be with the firm for a short period of time.
Penalizing Low Income Households
ObamaCare provides strong incentives for firms to avoid hiring workers
from low-income households. Eligibility for subsidized insurance in the exchanges is based on household income, and firms
can be penalized if one of their workers gets subsidized coverage in an exchange. Thus, firms have a strong incentive to find
workers who won’t qualify for subsidized coverage, which may also lead to invasions of privacy. For instance, a restaurant
might find it better to hire young waiters from upper-income neighborhoods, as opposed to low-income areas, because they would
be less likely to qualify for subsidized insurance in the exchanges. ObamaCare therefore is penalizing the very households
it was supposedly passed to help.
is expanding rapidly and heightened regulatory scrutiny will prevent drug plan managers from holding down costs for consumers
with programs such as creating exclusive networks and encouraging mail-order prescriptions,” Devon Herrick, a senior
fellow at NCPA, said in a press release.
Defund Obamacare Now!Let’s not be fooled, if Obamacare is allowed to take effect for one year,
it will be impossible to reform Medicare, roll back dependency, and balance the budget. This is the GOP Waterloo.
There’s nothing worth fighting for if we allow the motherload of entitlements to take effect. Before we make empty
promises about reforming popular entitlements that are over 50 years old, let’s muster the courage to draw a line in
the sand on a new entitlement that is still unpopular with the public.Full story...
The doctor's 25-minute speech displayed
a "logical" and "common-sense" approach to issues like freedom of speech, education, taxation, the national
debt and spirituality, and has already captured more than a million hits on YouTube and elicited headlines and calls
like the Wall Street Journal's "Ben Carson for President."Full Story...
'Healthcare for all does not mean freedom for few'
(FOX NEWS) Catholic
bishops have rejected the Obama administration’s latest proposal on mandatory contraceptive coverage, vowing to continue
to fight for changes before the policy becomes final. After reviewing the administration’s
proposal unveiled last week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said it stands by its earlier concerns.
“Because the stakes are so high, we will not cease from our effort to assure that healthcare
for all does not mean freedom for few,” New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the bishops’ conference,
said in a statement. Full story...
"Because the stakes are so high, we will not cease from our effort
to assure that healthcare for all does not mean freedom for few," New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the bishops'
conference, said in a statement.Read more...
"The HHS mandate announcement today changes nothing, it is just another
accounting gimmick and the HHS mandate continues to be a violation of civil rights, religious freedom and First Amendment
rights,” said Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor to The Catholic Association. “Catholic institutions and
other faith based organizations, including hospitals and universities and private employers, still do not get their First
Amendment rights back and are still being forced to either violate their faith or pay crippling government fines for practicing
their faith." Read more...
(Reuters) - Idaho Governor Butch Otter reluctantly opted on Tuesday for a state-based health
insurance exchange under terms of President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, complaining it would do little to cut
costs while inflating government.
Federal mandates of Obamacare’s magnitude pose new challenges
for the states. So many of the states have hired private business consulting firms to figure out how to set up an insurance
exchange that complies with the federal requirements, while many other states are soliciting proposals from these companies
in anticipation of creating a future exchange.
Here's why the IRS will require Americans to disclose their personal health ID information
starting in 2014 (Americans for Tax Reform) Simply put, there is no way for the IRS to enforce Obamacare’s
individual mandate without such an invasive reporting scheme. Every January, health insurance companies across America
will send out tax documents to each insured individual. This tax document—a copy of which will be furnished to
the IRS—must contain sufficient information for taxpayers to prove that they purchased qualifying health insurance under
By STEVEN RATTNER September
16, 2012 (NYTimes Op-ed)
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama’s hopes for sustained
cost containment are pinned on a to-be-determined mix of squeezing reimbursements, embracing a selection of the creative ideas
that have spewed forth from health care policy wonks and scouring the globe for innovations.
Through a provision called “community rating,”
the law forces young people to pay significantly more for health insurance so as to subsidize those who are nearing retirement.
Young people are much more likely to pay the $695 penalty for going without insurance than to pay $5,000 a year for insurance
they don’t need. If they drop out and only sick people buy insurance, premiums go up, in a process known as “adverse
Justice Scalia steps up criticism of healthcare
July 29, 2012|By Will Dunham |
- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Sunday renewed his criticism of Chief Justice John Roberts' reasoning in upholding
President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law and also said the Constitution undoubtedly permits some gun control.
The 76-year-old Scalia - a leading conservative on the court who has served as a justice since 1986 - also was asked
whether he would time his retirement in order to let a conservative future president appoint a like-minded jurist.
Scalia: No falling out with Roberts over health care By Robert Barnes, (Washington Post) 7/19/12
Before the Supreme
Court’s decision on the health-care law, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned not to believe rumors of what the court
was going to do.
She subscribed to the principle that those who know about the court’s decisions
before they are announced don’t talk, and those who talk don’t know, she said.
Antonin Scalia added his own twist Wednesday night as he denied reports that the conservative justices have had a falling
out with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. over his vote to uphold the individual mandate, the key element of the Affordable
“You shouldn’t believe what you read about the court in the newspapers,
because the information has either been made up or given to the newspapers by somebody who is violating a confidence, which
means that person is not reliable,” Scalia said during an interview on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight.
“So you’ve had no falling out with Justice Roberts?” Morgan
“I’m not going to talk about — no, I haven’t had a falling out
with Justice Roberts,” Scalia responded.
“Best buddies?” Morgan followed up.
“My best buddy on the court is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has always been,” Scalia answered.
had apparently told Morgan beforehand he would not discuss the court’s decisions from last term.
Since the court’s 5 to 4 decision last month upholding President Obama’s health-care overhaul, there have been reports of a struggle among the conservative
justices and that Roberts switched his vote during the private deliberations. The most detailed reports have come from CBS’s
Jan Crawford, who has written a book about the court that’s well-received in the conservative legal community.
dodged most of Morgan’s questions about criticism of Roberts from conservatives.
asked about “Chief Justice Roberts getting criticized for being political, for being partisan,” Scalia interrupted:
“I’ve been out of the country for most of that, I have to tell you.”
did object to descriptions of the court as political. “Not a single one” of his colleagues approaches cases with
a partisan eye, he said.
“I don’t think any of my colleagues, on any cases, vote the
way they do for political reasons,” Scalia said. “They vote the way they do because they have their — their
own — their own judicial philosophy. And they may have been selected by the Democrats because they have that . . .
particular philosophy or they may have been selected by the Republicans because they have that particular judicial philosophy.
“But that is only to say that they are who they are.”
In the rest of the
interview, Scalia acknowledged that Bush v. Gore was probably the most controversial decision of his time on the
bench, and he repeated his oft-delivered advice that those who disagreed with the ruling should “get over it.” Newspaper investigations show that
had the Supreme Court allowed the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election to continue, Democratic nominee Al Gore
“would have lost anyway.”
Scalia also defended the court’s Citizens United
v. Federal Election Commission decision that said corporations and labor unions had a free speech right to spend freely
for or against candidates.
When Morgan said Thomas Jefferson would have been surprised by “super
PACS funded by billionaires” trying to buy elections, Scalia responded:
“I think Thomas
Jefferson would have said the more speech, the better. That’s what the First Amendment is all about.”
Justice Roberts Explains Justice Roberts: Politics, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Change (AmericanThinker.com) July, 8, 2012
of constitutional history, one of the eerie aspects of Chief Justice John Roberts' vote to uphold the ObamaCare individual
mandate was its resonance with the vote of an earlier Justice Roberts. Chief Justice Roberts has not explained, and may never
explain, his vote, but comments by that earlier Justice, Owen Roberts, may give some insight into the Chief Justice's thinking,
as well as serve as a powerful warning about the relation between political considerations and the proper role of the Supreme Court.
In 1936, Justice Owen Roberts, a generally conservative justice appointed by Herbert Hoover, voted
to uphold a state minimum wage law, reversing a decision of the previous year, where he had voted
to overturn such laws. He then went on to support many other 5-to-4 decisions upholding various New Deal laws. Coming as it
did on the heels of Franklin Roosevelt's "court-packing" scheme, Owen Roberts' initial vote has ever since been
known as the "switch in time that saved nine" because it, along with other pro-New Deal votes by Roberts, took the
wind out of Roosevelt's scheme and contributed to its defeat. (Actually, Roberts voted in chambers before the "court-packing"
scheme was announced, but there was still huge political controversy over the Court's earlier decisions striking various New
There are many parallels with Chief Justice Roberts' ObamaCare decision. Not only did both Justices Roberts' votes
sustain vast expansions of federal power on constitutionally dubious grounds, but there were and are claims that both votes
were motivated by political rather than legal considerations. Just as Justice Owen Roberts' switch was attributed to the political
storm of Democrat opposition to the Court's reversal of New Deal legislation, there is a widely cited report (see here, here, and here for just three examples) from CBS that Chief Justice John Roberts had originally sided with the conservative
dissenters in the ObamaCare decision, but changed his vote because of concerns
about the political prestige of the Court in the eyes of the media and Washington
Owen Roberts destroyed his judicial papers. However, a few years before his death in 1955, then-former Justice Roberts
gave a series of lectures at Harvard Law School, where he spoke publicly for the only time about his controversial switch
to pro-New Deal votes in the late 1930s. He acknowledged that the Supreme Court's pro-New Deal decisions "reduce the
states to administrative districts rather than coordinate sovereigns" and that his switch reached "a result never
contemplated when the Constitution was adopted, was a subterfuge." However, he justified the switch as necessary to avoid
"even more radical changes" in the constitutional structure. He did not specify what "radical changes"
he feared, but in the aftermath of FDR's landslide re-election in 1936, many might have seemed possible.
Again, we do not know now if John
Roberts changed his vote, and why he did if he did. However, there was clearly a storm of Democrat vituperation brewing and
set to break loose in the event that the Court overturned ObamaCare. Just as Owen Roberts started voting pro-New Deal in order
to preserve the Court from FDR's machinations, so John Roberts may have voted to save the Court from the fury of a left and
leftist president who would have forever after invoked an anti-ObamaCare decision in rejecting the legitimacy of every other
Supreme Court decision they did not like. And, just as Owen Roberts' switch to preserve the Court unleashed our modern massive
and pervasive federal regulatory state, so John Roberts' effort to save the Court's prestige will allow that regulatory state
to grow ever more massive and pervasive.
The natural reaction to the idea that the Supreme Court may have let loose the leftist
federal police state simply in order to preserve its own standing should be outrage. However, the tale of the two Justices
Roberts offers a path to a solution. What is the role of politics in the Supreme Court? Most would say none, and they would
be right. Yet the Constitution itself is a profoundly political document. How can we say that the Supreme Court should ignore
political considerations in interpreting it? Indeed, this is the crux of the argument of the "living Constitution"
school of judicial interpretation, which calls on the judiciary to update the Constitution for changing times.
The answer to this is that the
Constitution is political, but the Supreme Court should not be. So how do we carry out "useful alterations" (Madison's
phrase) that may be needed in this very political document? The Framers' answer was not to delegate that power to the judicial
branch. Instead, political change in our political Constitution was to be accomplished by the very political process of amendment.
Unfortunately, our constitutional amendment process is the most difficult in the world, and effectively moribund. The Framers
showed great genius in providing for constitutional change by a deliberative and democratic process, and cannot be blamed
that they made it too difficult for a nation as large and diverse as the United States has become -- far beyond their wildest
imaginings, in fact.
We can honor the Framers' vision by reviving the amendment process with a few conservative reforms. The principal
of these would be allowing a small group of states to initiate an amendment proposal without having to go through either Congress
or the unused and unworkable mechanism of a convention. Then the courts could go back to judging according to the original
meaning of the laws and Constitution. Instead, the People acting in their proper political capacity
would be the final arbiters and defenders of the Constitution's meaning. The Justices Roberts have shown that we certainly
cannot rely on the Supreme Court to do so.
James W. Lucas is an attorney, entrepreneur and the author of the newly released Are We
The People? Using Amendment to Take Back Our Constitution from Big Government, Big Business and the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court's John Roberts Changed His Obamacare Vote in May (Forbes) 7/1/12 - “I
have sources that say Roberts initially sided with conservatives to strike down the individual mandate,” said Crawford
on CBS’ Face the Nation. “Roberts, I’m told by my sources, switched sides. There was a one-month campaign
to bring Roberts back into the conservative fold, led, ironically, by Anthony Kennedy.” Read more...
In a 5-4 majority opinion written by Chief Justice
Roberts, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate component of the PPACA as a valid exercise of Congress's power to
"lay and collect taxes" (Art. I, §8, cl. 1). Although the individual mandate is strictly a tax under the Constitution,
the Court held that litigation over the validity of the individual mandate is not precluded by theTax
Anti-Injunction Act, because the PPACA labeling the individual mandate as a "penalty" instead of a "tax"
precludes it from being treated as a tax under the Anti-Injunction Act.
The Court also ruled that while the section 5000A penalty is treated as a tax for constitutional
purposes, it is not adirect tax, and therefore is not required to be apportioned
among the states according to population.
Court concluded: "A tax on going without health insurance does not fall within any recognized category of direct tax
[. . . . ] The shared responsibility payment is thus not a direct tax that must be apportioned among the several States."
Regarding the argument that the mandate penalizes
or taxes "inactivity," the Court stated:
....it is abundantly clear the Constitution doesnotguarantee
that individuals may avoidtaxationthrough
inactivity. A capitation, after all, is a tax that everyone must pay simply for existing, and capitations are expressly contemplated
by the Constitution.
The Court today holds
that our Constitution protects us from federalregulationunder
the Commerce Clause so long as weabstainfrom
from its creation, the Constitution has madeno such promisewith
The Court narrowed the Medicaid provision by ruling that the federal government could not withhold existing
Medicaid funding from states that choose not to comply with the Act's new requirements on Medicaid participation.
Justices Roberts, Breyer and Kagan concluded that
coercing states to comply in the Medicaid expansion by the threatened loss of existing Medicaid funding is unconstitutional
and precluded withdrawing funding for a failure to comply.
Justice Roberts concluded:
The Affordable Care Act is constitutional in part and unconstitutional in part. The individual mandate cannot be
upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate
commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it. In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has
done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation
is within Congress’s power to tax.
for the Medicaid expansion, that portion of the Affordable Care Act violates the Constitution by threatening existing Medicaid
funding. Congress has no authority to order the States to regulate according to its instructions. Congress may offer the States
grants and require the States to comply with accompanying conditions, but the States must have a genuine choice whether to
accept the offer.
[ . . . ]
The Federal Government does not have the power toorder peopleto buy health insurance.
Section 5000A [of the Internal Revenue Code] would therefore be unconstitutionalifread as a command. The Federal Governmentdoeshave the power toimpose a taxon those without health insurance. Section 5000A is therefore constitutional, because
it can reasonably be readas a tax.
First it was a penalty. Then it was a tax. Now it's a penalty again.
The war of words over what to call the fine attached to the federal health care overhaul's most controversial provision
continued Friday, as the White House took issue with the Supreme Court's argument -- even though that argument alone spared
President Obama's law.
The five-justice majority argued that, while the fine imposed by the law
for not buying health insurance would otherwise be unconstitutional, the fine is actually legal under Congress' authority
Ergo, the fine is officially a "tax" in the eyes of the court. The law stands.
"ObamaCare" stands, but the battle over the law is far from over.
In its 5-4
decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the so-called individual mandate could be upheld only because it fell within Congress'
authority to tax. However, that is not how the Obama administration originally sold it.
in a 2009 interview, President Obama adamantly rejected the notion that the penalty for not buying insurance amounted to a
"You can't just make up that language and decide that that's called a tax increase,"
Obama said, scolding his interviewer.
Now that the high court says it is a tax, Republicans say
the law will be more unpopular.
WASHINGTON (AP) 8/1/11— Health insurance plans must cover birth control as preventive care for women, with no copays,
the Obama administration said Monday in a decision with far-reaching implications for health care as well as social mores.
The requirement is part of a broad expansion of coverage for women's preventive
care under President Barack Obama's health care law. Also to be covered without copays are breast pumps for nursing mothers,
an annual "well-woman" physical, screening for the virus that causes cervical cancer and for diabetes during pregnancy,
counseling on domestic violence, and other services.
historic guidelines are based on science and existing (medical) literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health
benefits they need," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The new requirements will take effect Jan. 1, 2013, in most cases. Over time, they are expected to
apply to most employer-based insurance plans, as well as coverage purchased individually. Plans that are considered "grandfathered"
under the law will not be affected, at least initially. Consumers should check with their health insurance plan administrator.
Sebelius acted after a near-unanimous recommendation last month from a panel
of experts convened by the prestigious Institute of Medicine, which advises the government. Panel chairwoman Linda Rosenstock,
dean of public health at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that prevention of unintended pregnancies is essential
for the psychological, emotional and physical health of women.
Birth control use is virtually universal in the United States, according to a government study issued
last summer. Generic versions of the pill are available for as little as $9 a month. Still, about half of all pregnancies
are unplanned. Many are among women using some form of contraception, and forgetting
to take the pill is a major reason.
is about more than simply preventing pregnancy — it can help make a woman's next pregnancy healthier by spacing births
far enough apart, generally 18 months to two years. Research links closely spaced births to a risk of such problems as prematurity,
low birth weight, even autism. Research has shown that even modest copays for
medical care can discourage use.
a nod to social and religious conservatives, the rules issued Monday by Sebelius include a provision that would allow religious
institutions to opt out of offering birth control coverage. However, many conservatives are supporting legislation by Rep.
Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., that would codify a range of exceptions to the new health care law on religious and conscience grounds.
Although the new women's preventive
services will be free of any additional charge to patients, somebody will have to pay. The cost will be spread among other
people with health insurance, resulting in slightly higher premiums. That may be offset to some degree with savings from diseases
prevented, or pregnancies that are planned to minimize any potential ill effects to the mother and baby.
The administration did allow insurers some leeway in determining what
they will cover. For example, health plans will be able to charge copays for branded drugs in cases where a generic version
is just as effective and safe for the patient.