American Action Forum
Late last night the House approved a $1.1 trillion spending measure that will keep the government funded. The measure passed 219-206, with 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats in favor. The so-called “CRomnibus” now moves onto the Senate where it is expected to pass today.
While a House panel was meeting to discuss eliminating the 1970s era ban on crude oil exports, a group of economists from American Council for Capital Formation urged the president to lift the ban. Even according to the government’s own research, “This reduction in oil prices, if they persist for one year, puts approximately $1.3 trillion in the hands of consumers worldwide.”
The FCC voted Thursday to increase the E-rate program by $1.5 billion, now totaling $3.9 billion per year. AAF has found that, with this vote, the program has expanded nearly 123 percent since 2008.
By John Fund
An old Soviet joke had men carrying briefcases marching alongside tanks and soldiers in a Kremlin parade. “Why are those men in a military parade?” a boy innocently asks his father. He replies, “Those are the economists. They are the most dangerous of all.”
MIT economist Jonathan Gruber’s factually impoverished testimony on Obamacare didn’t get nearly the attention it should have, as congressional Democrats cleverly decided to release a report on CIA torture abuses on the same day. Gruber’s stonewalling about videos in which he boasted that the “stupidity” of the American people and their “lack of transparency” had been the key to passing Obamacare was buried deep inside major papers and ignored by the next morning’s network-TV shows. John Harwood of CNBC dismissed his testimony: “I’m sorry, Gruber is a nothingburger and always has been.” Mark Halperin of Bloomberg News chimed in: “This has been a sideshow. . . .
The Wall Street Journal
With the Supreme Court due to rule on a major ObamaCare legal challenge by next summer, thoughts in Washington are turning to the practical and political response. If the Court does strike down insurance subsidies, the question for Republicans running Congress is whether they will try to fix the problems Democrats created, or merely allow ObamaCare’s damage to grow.
The time to define a strategy is soon, as King v. Burwell will be heard in March with a ruling likely in June. As a matter of ordinary statutory construction, the Court should find that when the law limited subsidies to insurance exchanges established by states, that does not include the 36 states where the feds run exchanges.
But in that event one result would be an immediate refugee crisis. Of the 5.4 million consumers on federal exchanges, some 87% drew subsidies in 2014, according to a Rand Corporation analysis.
By Sam Baker and Sophie Novack:
Republicans want the Supreme Court to blow a major hole in Obamacare next year, but they are still debating whether they would help repair it—and what they should ask for in return.
There's a very real chance the high court will invalidate Obamacare's insurance subsidies in most of the country, which would be devastating for the health care law. It would become almost entirely unworkable in most states, and the cost of coverage would skyrocket.
That loss for the Affordable Care Act might seem like a clear-cut political win for the GOP, but the reality would be far messier.
Such a ruling would weaken the law's individual mandate and make coverage unaffordable for millions of people.
The Wall Street Journal
By Stephanie Armour:
Some free health clinics serving the uninsured are shutting their doors because of funding shortfalls and low demand they attribute to the Affordable Care Act’s insurance expansion.
Nearly a dozen clinics that have closed in the past two years cited the federal health law as a major reason.
The closings have occurred largely in 28 states and Washington, D.C., which all expanded Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for low-income people, and are being heralded by some clinic officials as a sign the health law is reducing the number of uninsured.
Continued at... http://www.wsj.com/articles/health-law-hurts-some-free-clinics-1418429551
David Leonhardt of the New York Times has offered up a misleading defense of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — i.e., Obamacare. Like several others, he celebrates the slowdown in health-care-cost escalation and suggests that the ACA is one reason for the deceleration. Specifically, he suggests that key ACA provisions — which he describes as nudging “the health care system away from paying for the quantity of medical care rather than the quality” — have already played a role in making the health system better and more efficient.
It would be an effective argument for the ACA if it were true. Unfortunately, it isn’t.
Leonhardt is responding to the recent government announcement that national health spending rose 3.6 percent in 2013. That’s certainly a low growth rate — well below the long-term trend over the past several decades. But it isn’t a trend that began with passage of the ACA.
In 2001, national health spending rose 8.5 percent. The following year it rose 9.6 percent.
The Fiscal Times
By Aliya Sternstein, A core Internal Revenue Service system for calculating Obamacare fees for health insurers and drug manufacturers has security weaknesses, according to an internal audit.
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers must report their net premiums to the tax agency annually, and pharmaceutical companies must submit sales data from certain government programs.
Related: Can IRS Collect Obamacare Taxes When It Can't Handle Tax Complaints?
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recently examined a new computer application, called the ACA Information Returns system and known as AIR, that processes these returns. The IG's heavily redacted 44-page report, released Tuesday, suggests, specifically, the agency neglected to check source code for bugs and fix security vulnerabilities.
Physicians for a National Health Program
The case for single payer – Medicare for All
By Jeoffry B. Gordon, M.D., M.P.H.
December 3, 2014
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has as its main and overriding purpose the expansion and subsidization of health insurance coverage for many (usually poor and uninsured) Americans who were previously unable to reliably access medical services. Under its auspices, the federal law has provided for health insurance enrollment for 1 million to 3 million additional 19- to 26-year-olds; 6 million new, expanded Medicaid enrollees; and 7.2 million commercial Qualified Health Plan enrollees. Of the latter, about 80 percent qualify for financial subsidy. Taking into account additional factors, e.g. the fact that some of the new enrollees were previously insured, there has been a net gain of about 10 million people who have coverage. Yet even at full expansion, it is estimated that the ACA will not insure another 30 million U.S.
Why the hell did Jonathan Gruber say that? And that? And that? And (sigh) the other thing? Those are the questions on the minds of virtually everyone in the health care world—especially the people who worked the hardest on Obamacare. Ever since the videos started popping up, one after another, America has come to know Gruber—the MIT economist who worked closely on both Obamacare and Romneycare—as the guy who thinks voters are “stupid.” And the guy who thinks Obamacare was passed because of trickery. And who says, ha-ha, voters don’t understand economics. For a while, Fox News didn’t have to bother running anything else.
Now America is about to see Gruber in a new role: congressional witness. He’s going to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to testify before Darrell Issa’s committee, where he’ll be forced to answer a ton of questions, if he can, about all those things he said.
The Wall Street Journal
By Scott Gottlieb Dec. 7, 2014 5:12 p.m. ET
Here’s a dirty little secret about recent attempts to fix ObamaCare. The “reforms,” approved by Senate and House leaders this summer and set to advance in the next Congress, adopt many of the Medicare payment reforms already in the Affordable Care Act. Both favor the consolidation of previously independent doctors into salaried roles inside larger institutions, usually tied to a central hospital, in effect ending independent medical practices.
Republicans must embrace a different vision to this forced reorganization of how medicine is practiced in America if they want to offer an alternative to ObamaCare. The law’s defenders view this consolidation as a necessary step to enable payment provisions that shift the financial risk of delivering medical care onto providers and away from government programs like Medicare.