A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Mandates"

Law by other means — a response to Rob Weiner on Halbig

Jonathan Adler
The Washington Post
Tue, 2014-08-19
"Rob Weiner is at it again over at Balkinization. This time alleging he’s found some smoking gun to prove that the Halbig litigation is “anti-democratic” and rests on a flawed legal theory. As with his posts on the D.C. Circuit’s en banc procedures, Weiner’s diatribe is long on bluster, but short on meaningful claims. And, as before, he says some things that are false, irrelevant, or both. Weiner starts with the supposed discovery of a video that shows the theory underlying Halbig was illegitimate from the start. The video is of a December 2010 conference at the American Enterprise Institute at which Vanderbilt law professor James Blumstein and health law attorney Tom Christina discussed pending and potential legal challenges to the PPACA.

HHS pressed on insurance discrimination claims

Ferdous Al-Faruque, The Hill
Tue, 2014-08-19
"Patient advocacy groups say health insurers are violating ObamaCare by discriminating against those with chronic diseases, and the groups are forcing the administration to respond. A Health and Human Services spokesperson cited by The Associated Press says a response is nearly prepped for advocacy organizations fighting AIDS, leukemia, epilepsy and other diseases. Groups such as the National Health Law Program and the AIDS Institute have filed complaints with the administration claiming insurers are in violation of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions that prevent them from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions and chronic diseases. They argue certain drugs are put on higher tiers, requiring patients with chronic diseases to pay bigger out-of-pocket costs.

TRANSCENDING OBAMACARE: A Patient-Centered Plan for Near-Universal Coverage and

Avik Roy
Manhattan Institute
Sat, 2014-08-16
"In 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as the “Affordable Care Act,” the “ACA,” or “Obamacare.” The ACA will reduce the number of Americans without health insurance— an important goal—but it will do so by increasing the cost of U.S. health coverage. Increasing the cost of health coverage, in turn, will worsen two of the nation’s most important policy problems. The first of those problems is the increasing unaffordability of private health insurance, a problem that is straining the budgets of middle-income Americans, and hampering social mobility. The second problem is the nation’s grave long-term fiscal instability, a problem primarily driven by government spending on health insurance and health care. Indeed, the ACA will especially drive up the cost of private health insurance that individuals purchase directly.

The Obama Administration Has Little to Tout About Obamacare

Ed Haislmaier
The Daily Signal
Thu, 2014-08-14
"There has not exactly been an overabundance of good news on Obamacare. So it did come as some surprise two weeks ago when the Department of Health and Human Services issued a press release with the headline: “Consumers have saved a total of $9 billion on premiums,” and the subheading; “Health care law will return to families an average refund of $80 each this year.” There is nothing unusual or even untoward about the Obama administration doing what it can to put a positive spin on the law. But what makes this item interesting is it reveals how little the administration actually has to tout about Obamacare and how far it must reach to manufacture a success story. The purpose of the press release was to announce data on the effects of Obamacare’s “medical loss ratio” regulation, which “requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on patient care and quality improvement activities.

16% Of Large Employers Plan To Offer Low-Benefit 'Skinny' Plans Despite ACA: Survey

Jay Hancock, Kaiser Health News
Thu, 2014-08-14
"Nearly one company in six in a new survey from a major employer group plans to offer health coverage that doesn't meet the Affordable Care Act's requirements for value and affordability. Many thought such low-benefit "skinny plans" would be history once the health law was fully implemented this year. Instead, 16 percent of large employers in a survey released Wednesday by the National Business Group on Health said they will offer in 2015 lower-benefit coverage along with at least one health plan that does qualify under ACA standards. The results weren't unexpected by benefits pros, who realized last year that ACA regulations would allow skinny plans and even make them attractive for some employers. But the new survey gives one of the first looks at how many companies will follow through and offer them."

“Just Win, Baby” The Politics of Obamacare

Tom Miller
AEI
Wed, 2014-08-13
"The latest somersaults and contortions over Obamacare last month spread from courtrooms to the blogosphere, with another round of regulatory “adjustments” not far away. The common principle followed by the health law’s most energetic advocates appears to be the whatever-it-takes motto of the late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, “Just win, baby!” A pair of federal appellate court decisions on July 21 (Halbig v. Burwell and King v Burwell) sent Obamacare backers cycling through at least the first three stages of grief (anger, denial, and bargaining) over the potential loss of tax credit subsidies for states with federal-run health exchanges, along with the likelihood of further unraveling of the health law’s interrelated scheme of coverage mandates and tighter insurance regulation. A 2-1 majority ruling in Halbig delivered the latest blow to the Affordable Care Act, by deciding to vacate a 2012 Internal Revenue Service rule that attempted to authorize such subsidies.

Q&A: Why Hahn Family Is Glad They Joined Hobby Lobby to Fight Obamacare’s HHS Mandate

Kelsey Harkness, The Daily Signal
Wed, 2014-08-13
"Media coverage of the two Supreme Court cases challenging Obamacare’s HHS mandate for employers to provide workers with “free” coverage of abortion-inducing drugs largely focused on Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts chain founded by the Greens, an evangelical Christian family. The case of another family-owned business also was heard by the high court, though — that of Conestoga Wood Specialties and the Hahns, Mennonite Christians from East Earl, Pa. The Hahns established their business — the manufacture of custom wood kitchen cabinets and parts — on Christian values and say they’re committed to applying those values in the workplace. Why did they go to court, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom?

Freshway Contraceptive Coverage Bar Allowed by Court

Andrew Zajac, Bloomberg News
Mon, 2014-08-11
"Fresh Unlimited Inc. won’t have to provide contraceptive coverage for its employees under the Obama administration’s health-care reform law, in what may be the first exemption granted since a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The parent of Freshway Foods today won an appeals court ruling that qualifies it for the same treatment the high court approved in its June 30 Hobby Lobby decision allowing family-run businesses to claim a religious exemption from the requirement to include contraceptives in their health insurance plans. The suit by Francis and Philip Gilardi, who own Sidney, Ohio-based Freshway, is one of about 50 filed by for-profit businesses over religious objections to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010’s birth-control coverage mandate. The Gilardis are Roman Catholic and said that complying with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate would require them to violate deeply held religious beliefs. U.S.

Many Americans can't afford Obamacare: Aetna CEO

Matthew J. Belvedere, CNBC
Mon, 2014-08-11
"The Affordable Care Act—also known as Obamacare—is "not an affordable product" for many people and it does not fix the underlying problems causing high health-care costs, Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini told CNBC on Wednesday. "If we're going to fix health care, we've got to get at the delivery of care and the cost of care," Bertolini said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "The ACA does none of that. The only person who's really going to drive that is the consumer and the decisions they make." "Getting everybody insured should probably be our goal, but you have to have a more affordable system," he added. "We have a 1950[-style] health care system in the Unites States." Aetna said Tuesday that its medical spending rose more than estimates in the second quarter, due in part to the higher costs of covering patients who bought insurance under Obamacare for the first time. But the third-largest U.S.

Millions of uninsured Americans exempt from ObamaCare penalties in 2016, report finds

Fox News
Thu, 2014-08-07
"A new congressional report has estimated that more than 25 million Americans without health insurance will not be made to pay a penalty in 2016 due to an exploding number of ObamaCare exemptions. The Wall Street Journal, citing an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation, reported that the number of people expected to pay the fine in 2016 has dwindled to four million people from the report's previous projection of six million. Approximately 30 million Americans are believed to be without health insurance. The latest report is likely to spark fresh concerns among insurers, who have maintained that the number of exemptions to the law's individual mandate are resulting in fewer young, healthy people signing up for health insurance. An insurance pool skewed toward older, comparatively unhealthy people is likely to result in premiums rising.

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