This morning, Judge Henry E. Hudson of the Eastern District of Virginia presided over a summary judgment hearing for Virginia v. Sebelius. Both sides squared-off for just under three hours, and OCW was lucky enough to get a seat in the crowded courtroom.

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“In his ruling, Vinson criticized Democrats for seeking to have it both ways when it comes to defending the mandate to buy insurance. During the legislative debate, Republicans chastised the proposal as a new tax on the middle class. Obama defended the payment as a penalty and not a tax, but the Justice Department has argued that legally, it’s a tax.”

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“A federal judge in Florida on Thursday ruled that challenges to the healthcare reform law’s individual mandate and its Medicaid expansion can proceed. The widely expected ruling does not mean that Florida Northern District Senior Judge Roger Vinson agrees that the law is unconstitutional, only that the arguments against it can’t be dismissed out of hand as the Obama administration had requested.”

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“A federal judge on Thursday ruled that a lawsuit against the new health care law brought by 20 states led by Florida can go forward. In a 65-page ruling, the judge rejected the Obama administration’s attempt to have the suit thrown out, arguing that the states had a ‘plausible claim’ to challenge the law’s constitutionality. While U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson dismissed some of the states’ claims, he sided with them when it came to the central challenge to the law — that forcing individuals to purchase health insurance exceeds the government’s authority under the Commerce Clause.”

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“ObamaCare was not about fixing the insurance market. It was about seizing control of it. Thus it shouldn’t be surprising that a new analysis by the Congressional Research Service says that states can use ObamaCare to erect a de facto single-payer system by simply excluding from their exchanges every plan but a state-run ‘public’ plan. ‘There is no specific language in [the president’s health plan] that would prohibit an exchange from denying certification to every private plan that applies,’ the analysis finds.”

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“This paper estimates PPACA will impose an additional, hidden cost of $157 billion to $494 billion in the form of reduced economic output. Related provisions (such as the so-called ‘doc fix’) could drive the economic losses to $550 billion, or more than half of the bill’s official cost estimates. Failing to account for this hidden tax multiplier biases legislative decisions toward more costly policies.”

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“A Medicare official concedes that seniors may have to dig deeper into their wallets next year thanks to the health care law. The new analysis obtained by POLITICO finds the health care overhaul will result in increased out-of-pocket costs for seniors on Medicare Advantage plans. Richard Foster, the actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, also tells Senate Republicans that the overhaul will result in ‘less generous benefit packages’ for Medicare Advantage plans next year. Foster is independent from the administration and non-partisan.”

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The Administration has a high-level staffer responsible for pitching ObamaCare who took to the White House blog and made demonstrably false statements. She claimed that ObamaCare would absolutely not tax insurance benefits, while the law specifically as a tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans.

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“Government, at both the federal and the state levels, is no longer merely an umpire. It is not just setting rules and impartially enforcing them, government all too often is taking sides and picking winners and losers. Overall, Americans accept and expect government as a regulator, but in the world of health care, it is also a purchaser and competitor. There are countless examples in Medicare and Medicaid in which the federal government and states have re-written the rule book to favor a particular hospital or type of provider, or block competition. Special accommodations that were justified (or rationalized) in the past as ‘one-time deals’ or ‘transitional’ somehow become embedded parts of the program.”

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During the debate over ObamaCare and its cuts to Medicare Advantage, the Administration put out a gag order stopping insurers from informing their patients about how the cuts would reduce their benefits. The General Accounting Office, an impartial government agency, called the move “unusual” in an official report.

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