Mere days into a Republican Congress, Democrats are making charges of ideological bias when it comes to the majority’s handling of the Congressional Budget Office. A group of leading Senate Democrats wrote a letter to House Speaker John Boehner specifically noting that “a CBO director should not be required to revise the score of the Affordable Care Act in order to please partisan interests.” It’s an ironic charge, given that it’s far from partisan to question why the CBO failed to perform analyses that could have predicted the collapse of an $86 billion Obamacare program — exactly what happened under its current director, Doug Elmendorf.
New York Times correspondent Abby Goodnough asks if the latest legal challenges to ObamaCare are signaling a divide within the party or are Republicans still recovering from getting burned when the ACA went to the Supreme Court last time?”
About 5 million middle-income people in 36 states currently are receiving subsidies for health insurance through the federal exchanges. Since 87 percent of them are receiving subsidies to purchase coverage, many likely would no longer be able to afford coverage.
Ms. Goodenough reports that after the health overhaul law was passed in 2010, Republicans on both the state and federal level spoke with one voice flatly rejecting ObamaCare. However, in the years following ObamaCare’s passage while the majority of governor’s still remain critical of the law, nine governors have expanded their Medicaid programs and four more governors are considering Medicaid expansion this year at the urging of hospitals and business groups.
In the past months, a number of conservative groups and political leaders have filed Amicus briefs in the King vs. Burwell challenge that will be heard by the Supreme Court on March 4. As a result, Ms. Goodenough reports that new attention is being drawn to the divisions within the Republican Party over the law. . Almost two dozen briefs were filed on behalf of the plaintiffs in the King case, but she says “shockingly few state officials” signed on.
One of the few exceptions was the Amicus brief filed by the Galen Institute which had 19 Republican state legislators in Tennessee and two in Ohio join. Other notable briefs include one filed by six Republican state attorneys general- in Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia. Divides in the party can be seen within states like Florida where Senator Marco Rubio who signed a brief with 14 members of Congress, but Florida’s Republican Attorney General, Pam Bondi, did not join in the States brief.
On Sunday evening, CBS’ 60 Minutes did a feature story on Steven Brill’s new book, America’s Bitter Pill, in which Brill complains that Obamacare didn’t do enough to tackle the exorbitantly high price of U.S. hospital care. “Obamacare does zero to change any of that,” says Brill. That’s not exactly right. What Brill—and CBS—don’t tell you—is that Obamacare is driving hospitals to charge you more than they already do.
The U.S. hospital industry is crony capitalism at its finest
The following is a script of “Obamacare” which aired on Jan. 11, 2015. Lesley Stahl is the correspondent. Rich Bonin, producer.
This month marks one year since health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act began, and from the president’s point of view: so far, so good. More than 10 million Americans who didn’t have health insurance before have signed up. But congressional Republicans are gunning for Obamacare. Even if they can’t outright repeal it, they want an overhaul.
By Kimberly Leonard
Grace Brewer says she never thought she would be without health insurance at this stage of her life. “I’m a casualty of Obamacare,” says Brewer, 60, a self-employed chiropractor in the Kansas City, Kansas, area.
She wanted to keep the catastrophic health insurance plan she once had, which she says fit her needs. But under the Affordable Care Act, the government’s health care reform law, the plan was discontinued because it did not comply with the law’s requirements, and her bills doubled to more than $400 a month. “I wanted a minimal plan and I’m not allowed to have it,” she says. “That seems like an encroachment on my freedom.”
The complicated process of signing up for Obamacare is now being matched by IRS instructions to help Americans figure out how much in healthcare taxes they owe Uncle Sam.
The agency has issued 21 pages of instructions, complete with links to at least three long forms and nine tip sheets.
It is geared to those who have Obamacare or who owe a fine, dubbed “shared responsibility payment,” for refusing to get health insurance. The IRS warned that everybody must have health insurance or pay the tax.
”Safer Cars Lead to Drop in Fatalities” trumpets a recent Wall Street Journal headline. Not to be a curmudgeon, but whether this is good news or bad news depends on what it cost to achieve this reduction in mortality. No one disputes that saving lives is a very good thing, but even the richest nation in the world lacks infinite resources. We will never lack opportunities to save lives. But since there are more and less cost-effective ways of achieving this objective, we are best served by policies that move us in the direction of saving lives at the least cost. Auto safety regulation and Obamacare are simply the latest illustrations of where we may have focused far too much on the benefits being achieved and much too little attention on the cost side of the ledger.
Is Auto Safety Regulation Cost-effective?
The Affordable Care Act faces several challenges in 2015.Which of those will just be bumps in the road, and which ones will become major issues this year?
The Potential Headache: Owing the IRS
This year will be the first that individuals could potentially need to repay IRS if they incorrectly calculated their projected 2014 income and received subsidies to help purchase exchange coverage that were larger than for which they were eligible.
Obamacare was designed such that its most harmful provisions would not be implemented until after the President had been returned to office for a second term and his Democrat accomplices had been reelected to their congressional seats. Fortunately for the nation, the latter part of that strategy was a spectacular failure. Nonetheless, it did provide the public with a temporary reprieve from the health care law’s most painful exactions. That brief respite is now at an end. This year, you will begin to experience the realities of “reform” first hand and you are not going to like how it feels.
Here is something few pundits predicted.
Poor, long-uninsured patients are getting Medicaid through Obamacare and finally going to the doctor’s office for care. But middle-class patients are increasingly staying away.
Take Praveen Arla, who helps his father run a family practice in Hillview, Kentucky. The Arlas’ patient load used to be 45% commercially insured and 25% Medicaid. Those percentages are now reversed, report Laura Ungar and Jayne O’Donnell in USA Today.