“By a vote of 5 to 4, the Supreme Court has ruled that family-owned, closely held corporations do not have to comply with the health law’s contraception coverage requirements if they violate the owner’s religious views. Legal analyst Stuart Taylor Jr. joins us now to discuss the decision. Thanks for being with us.
STUART TAYLOR: Nice to be with you.
MARY AGNES CAREY: Why did the court rule this way?
STUART TAYLOR: Well, the court held that under an act of Congress passed in 1993, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the right is conferred on all religious groups, including, the court said in this case for the first time, for-profit corporations as well as churches and, say, nonprofit religious groups — they all get broad protection of their religious freedoms.”
In the four years since passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we have heard a wide range of speculative predictions about how private employers sponsoring health coverage would respond. More recent evidence from one of the oldest and largest annual surveys of employer plans, by human resources consulting firm Mercer, provides stronger indications that employer sponsors are neither heading for the exit doors nor sitting by passively as broader implementation of Obamacare unfolds.
“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has served as a catalyst to an ongoing national debate on the cost of health care in the United States. An important aspect of this question is the cost impact of the new law on the employer community. Employers spend $578.6 billion annually in providing health coverage for 170.9 million employees, retirees, and dependents. If the law leads to significant cost increases for them, this would affect the behavior of employers, which could in turn affect how—and even whether—they provide health care for their employees.”
“Liberals keep dismissing challenges to ObamaCare, political and legal, so it’s no surprise they mostly ignored last week’s oral argument at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that could send another case to the Supreme Court. Coming in the week the White House wheeled out its 38th rewrite of the law, Halbig v. Sebelius is even more important for the contours of executive power and the rule of law.”
“The Obama administration’s decision to let some consumers enroll in health plans beyond Monday’s deadline sparked concern among insurers and prompted fresh attacks from opponents of the health law.
A surge of consumers is expected to hit HealthCare.gov before Monday’s deadline to sign up for insurance and avoid a penalty under the Affordable Care Act. In the past, heavy traffic has stalled the federal site.”
It’s not a government takeover.
The new health law hands over to the federal government immense new powers, powers that will, over time, mean all important decisions about the organization and financing of American health care will need to meet the approval of federal agencies and bureaucrats.
Among the new federal powers created in the health law are the following:
The power to establish standardized insurance benefit packages from which all Americans must choose their coverage (see section XXXX). This means that everyone must conform with federal requirements regarding what is and is not covered by health insurance.
The power to include or exclude insurers from the marketplace based on any criteria the Secretary of HHS considers appropriate (see section XXXX). This means the federal government will have the power to pick winners and losers in the insurance marketplace.
The establishment of a new unelected and unaccountable Independent Payment Advisory Board with the power to unilaterally cut payment Medicare rates to providers of medical services (see section 3403).
“The rising cost of insurance affects people whether they purchase insurance through their employers or an exchange, since both depend on private insurers. If insurance costs go up, taxpayers also may end up paying more to foot the bill for the higher cost of subsidized insurance. This is particularly concerning since the administration has announced that it will be unable to verify whether applicants for subsidies actually qualify for them. The subsidies are likely to be very popular.”
“Health insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross said it won’t participate in California’s new insurance market for small businesses. Anthem, a unit of WellPoint Inc., is California’s largest insurer for small employers. This surprising move could hamper the state’s ability to enroll businesses in its new exchange called Covered California that opens Jan. 1 as part of the federal healthcare law.”
“Despite a temporary reprieve from some of the new rules under the health care law, business owners are growing increasing anxious about its looming implementation at the end of the year, according to a pair of recent surveys. “
“The entertainment industry is already having difficulty determining whether employees can be considered full-time or part-time and is fearful of the fines it will face if it chooses incorrectly. Another issue the health law creates is the outsourcing of productions to foreign countries, since Obamacare’s regulations and fines don’t apply to US citizens abroad. Studios may find it much cheaper to film in another country and avoid the burden of Obamacare.”