“As President Barack Obama’s administration gears up for its second open enrollment period next month, the president’s health care overhaul is now facing two new threats. Either piece of news, on its own, should warrant concern from the law’s most ardent supporters for the program’s long-term prospects.
The first threat is a group of legal challenges to the law that are making their way through the courts. At issue is what the plain text of Section 1401 of the Affordable Care Act means. Even though the text of the law states that the subsidies are available “through an Exchange established by the State under 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), without congressional authorization, allowed federal subsidies to flow into states participating in the federal exchange when it implemented the law.”

“Using data on household income and health insurance coverage maintained by the Census Bureau and McKinsey estimates on previously uninsured households enrolled through the Health Insurance Marketplace, the American Action Forum was able to construct state-level estimates of individual mandate payments. After accounting for exemptions, AAF estimates that 5.2 million people will be subject to the individual mandate penalty for being uninsured in 2014 and will pay a total of $5.8 billion in additional taxes. The AAF estimates include the exemptions for unauthorized immigrants, households that do not file income taxes, households that earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and households that cannot purchase a Bronze plan with 8 percent of household income, but do not attempt to project how many households may apply for one of the many hardship exemptions.”

“Last spring, John* purchased health insurance through the Washington State healthcare exchange. He was surprised when, last month, he received an email from the exchange at the address he’d provided when he signed up. The email was entitled, “Voter Registration Information.”
It read, in part:
“ARE YOU REGISTERED TO VOTE? If you would like to register to vote or
update your information, visit the Washington Secretary of State
website at https://weiapplets.sos.wa.gov/myvote?Org=confidHBE&language=en”
“I did think it was an effort to [register voters] for the Democrat party,” says John, a union member for the better part of four decades.
He wasn’t the only healthcare exchange customer to get the voter registration email.”

“The Obama administration has funded a new study by top consulting firm RAND Health that startlingly finds that if taxpayer subsidies are eliminated, Obamacare exchanges will fall into a “death spiral.”
The study comes in the wake of a number of lawsuits which are challenging the Obama administration’s implementation of Obamacare subsidies. Three lawsuits have made it to U.S. Circuit Courts, just one step from the Supreme Court, arguing that the text of the Affordable Care Act allows premium subsidies for state-run exchanges only. (RELATED: Second Court Strikes Down Obamacare Subsidies In Federal Exchanges)”

“Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan criticized the O’Malley administration Monday over its decision to delay a lawsuit against the contractor it has blamed for the failed launch of the state’s health exchange web site. .
Hogan, locked in a battle with Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown with two weeks to go before Election Day, accused the administration of putting politics ahead of the taxpayers by delaying court action against Noridian Healthcare Solutions.”

“Developments in the last ten days make it more likely that the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will agree to hear the leading challenge of the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) to the Obamacare individual-mandate penalty — and whoever does not prevail at this level will have a compelling case to take to the Supreme Court. An order from the D.C. Circuit last week, instructing the Obama administration to respond to PLF’s petition for rehearing, and an impressive set of amicus briefs supporting PLF’s petition filed yesterday confirm that this is no ordinary litigation.
Readers will recall that Chief Justice John Roberts joined four justices in 2012 to hold that the individual mandate was not authorized by the Commerce Clause or other congressional power, but he sided with four other justices in holding that the penalty for not buying insurance could be read as a tax, pursuant to Congress’s taxing power. No judge below had accepted the tax theory, so the debate over the tax issue in the Supreme Court briefs was truly brief. The Court was careful to write that Congress still had to comply with all constitutional requirements for the exercise of its taxing power, so the initial Obamacare ruling did not purport to end litigation that raised that and other issues.”

“Insurance consultants were shocked recently to learn that Obama administration rules allow large companies to offer 2015 worker health plans that don’t include hospital benefits. Now the administration is concerned too.
Treasury Department officials are preparing to reverse course on an official calculator that permits plans without hospital coverage to pass the health law’s strictest standard for large employers, said industry lawyers who have spoken to them. These sources expect the administration to disallow such coverage by the end of the year.”

“It’s been more than four, long painful years since the Affordable Care Act became law.
When it passed, many believed small-business owners and their employees would suffer under its weight. That’s why my organization, the National Federation of Independent Business, tried to stop it by suing the federal government.
Since the Supreme Court’s disappointing decision in 2012 to uphold Obamacare, the results for small business continue to be alarmingly bad or disastrous.”

“President Obama and some of his most ardent media acolytes are insistent. No matter what you may have heard, Obamacare ‘is working’ in the ‘real world.’ That’s the new mantra. Learn it, love it, etc. The Lean Forward network, unsurprisingly, has served as the vanguard of this propaganda push. Their working theory seems to be that if you repeat an assertion often enough to the same tiny audience, you can wish-cast your dreams into reality:”

“At the heart of Halbig v. Burwell[1] and the series of cases that are following it through the federal court system is an attempt to understand what state and federal legislators were thinking last year, two years ago, even four years ago when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed. While many experts and lawyers in this case have hypothesized about Congress’ intent, contrary to the claims of the Government, at least one establishing and one non-establishing state understood the language of the statute to condition subsidies on state establishment of Exchanges when they made their determination on whether to establish an Exchange. Furthermore, this understanding was timely in the chronology of ACA implementation.”