ObamaCare is bringing out corporate America’s worst crony-capitalist impulses. The health-insurance lobby has teamed up with trial lawyers to sue the federal government—through individual lawsuits and a $5 billion class action—for not following through on a bailout deal buried in the law. This provision, the risk corridor program, would have required taxpayers to bail out insurers for losing money on the health-care exchanges. In late 2013, Sen. Marco Rubio introduced legislation to repeal the provision entirely and later another bill to make the program budget neutral. When it came time to pass a spending bill at the end of 2014, Congress succeeded in making it the law of the land that the bailout program could not cost taxpayers a single cent—which ended up saving taxpayers $2.5 billion. In December of last year, they repeated the feat. Now, Rubio is urging leaders in both the House and Senate to make this a priority and stop the bailout a third time.
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Rushing to enact the giant Obamacare bill in March 2010, Congress voted itself out of its own employer-sponsored health insurance coverage—the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Section 1312(d)(3)(D) required members of Congress and staff to enroll in the new health insurance exchange system. But in pulling out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, they also cut themselves off from their employer-based insurance contributions.
Obamacare’s insurance subsidies for ordinary Americans are generous, but capped by income. No one with an annual income over $47,080 gets a subsidy. That’s well below typical Capitol Hill salaries. Members of Congress make $174,000 annually, and many on their staff have impressive, upper-middle-class paychecks.
Maybe the lawmakers didn’t understand what they were doing, but The New York Times’ perspicacious Robert Pear certainly did. On April 12, 2010, Pear wryly wrote, “If they did not know exactly what they were doing to themselves, did lawmakers who wrote and passed the bill fully grasp the details of how it would influence the lives of other Americans?”
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Oracle has had enough of Oregon. The business technology giant has decided it will no longer take on new business with the state’s government amid an ongoing legal battle, Oracle senior vice president Ken Glueck told Fortune on Wednesday.
The decision follows a protracted legal tussle between the two parties over a disastrous state healthcare enrollment website that never came online. In 2011, Oregon enlisted Oracle to build a healthcare exchange website related to Obamacare after being impressed by the company’s sales pitch, according to a previous legal filing.
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Health insurance is about to bear a higher price tag. Experts at the Kaiser Family Foundation just warned that premiums are likely to jump in 2017 — after increasing an average of more than 12 percent this year.
High-deductible health plans paired with tax-advantaged Health Savings Accounts (HSA) have emerged as a source of a lower-cost refuge for patients, who accept the high deductible in exchange for lower premiums.
The Obama administration is trying to restrict access to HSAs. That’s a mistake. HSAs empower consumers to take control of their health care and reduce overall health spending in the process. Our leaders should be working to expand access to them, not narrow it.
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America had managed to get through the vast majority of its history without any contraceptive mandate. President Obama’s first term, all of which took place before the implementation of the directive, was not marked by a national crisis of access to birth control. The administration erred, however, when it allowed only a very narrow religious exemption, one that applied to churches but not to religious charities such as the Little Sisters of the Poor. After being slapped down by the courts once again on this issue, it makes you wonder why the Obama administration thought this entirely avoidable culture-war fight was worth starting in the first place.
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Last Thursday, the Obama administration suffered a legal setback, when a federal judge in Washington ruled that the administration exceeded its authority by paying out cost-sharing subsidies to health insurers under the Affordable Care Act.
The administration will doubtless appeal the case, which was brought by the Republican-led House of Representatives, but whether those appeals succeed may well depend on whether courts view the case as one of statutory interpretation, or one with constitutional implications.
In its briefs in the case, the administration tried to portray House v. Burwell as a successor case to King v. Burwell, another lawsuit surrounding Obamacare subsidy payments, which the Supreme Court decided in June 2015.
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The Supreme Court unanimously remanded a case challenging the ACA’s contraceptive mandate back to the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, Tenth and D.C. Circuits. The decision will give the parties an opportunity to reach a compromise that “accommodates petitioners’ religious exercise” while ensuring women covered by the petitioner’s health plans receive coverage that includes contraception. The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which brought the lawsuit one behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor, called the ruling a win for the petitioners.
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District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer has ruled for Congress in House v. Burwell, a case challenging the authority of the executive branch to pay Obamacare subsidies for which no money has been appropriated.
These are not the highest-profile subsidies; they’re something called the cost-sharing reduction, which lowers the deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for families buying silver plans who make less than 250 percent of the poverty line. The federal government has paid the insurers a lot of money that wasn’t appropriated, and the House has sued to stop that.
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Here’s some bad news for the insurance industry: Unexpectedly generous corporate subsidies didn’t save companies selling ObamaCare policies from bleeding red ink. The worse news: Those subsidies are set to expire in 2017, meaning that insurers will have to make ends meet without billions in handouts.
Those are among the matters discussed in a study by the Mercatus Center, authored by Brian Blase, Edmund Haislmaier, and Doug Badger. Thestudy, based on detailed data derived from insurer regulatory filings for the 2014 benefit year, finds that companies that sold ObamaCare plans in the individual market lost more than $2.2 billion, despite receiving $6.7 billion (an average of $833 per enrollee) in “reinsurance” subsidies. Those reinsurance payments were 40 percent more generous on a per-enrollee basis than insurers had expected when they set their 2014 premiums.
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The Supreme Court asked for additional information from both sides on “whether and how” employees of religious nonprofits could get contraceptive coverage through other means that would be less objectionable to their employers.
The goal, is to address how employees could still get contraceptive coverage “but in a way that does not require any involvement” from the religious employers, meaning they would not have to sign the form that they currently object to.