A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Public Opposition"

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.

More Bad News for Obamacare

Megan McArdle
Bloomberg
Tue, 2014-08-19
"Last Monday, Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily reported that insurers say Affordable Care Act enrollment is shrinking, and it is expected to shrink further. Some of those who signed up for insurance on the exchanges never paid; others paid, then stopped paying. Insurers are undoubtedly picking up some new customers who lost jobs or had another “qualifying life event” since open enrollment closed. But on net, they expect enrollment to shrink from their March numbers by a substantial amount -- as much as 30 percent at Aetna Inc., for example. How much does this matter? As Charles Gaba notes, this was not unexpected: Back in January, industry expert Bob Laszewski predicted an attrition rate of 10 to 20 percent, which seems roughly in line with what IBD is reporting. However, Gaba seems to imply that this makes the IBD report old news, barely worth talking about, and I think that’s wrong, for multiple reasons."

Obamacare Losing Power as Campaign Weapon in Ad Battles

Heidi Pryzybla
Bloomberg
Tue, 2014-08-19
"Republicans seeking to unseat the U.S. Senate incumbent in North Carolina have cut in half the portion of their top issue ads citing Obamacare, a sign that the party’s favorite attack against Democrats is losing its punch. The shift -- also taking place in competitive states such as Arkansas and Louisiana -- shows Republicans are easing off their strategy of criticizing Democrats over the Affordable Care Act now that many Americans are benefiting from the law and the measure is unlikely to be repealed. “The Republican Party is realizing you can’t really hang your hat on it,” said Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University. “It just isn’t the kind of issue it was.” The party had been counting on anti-Obamacare sentiment to spur Republican turnout in its quest for a U.S. Senate majority, just as the issue did when the party took the House in 2010. This election is the first since the law was fully implemented.

Obamacare Opponents Who Won On Subsidies Ask SCOTUS To Take The Case

Tue, 2014-08-19
"Obamacare challengers in the Halbig case have asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals not to review a three-judge panel's ruling against federal exchange subsidies, instead calling for "final resolution by the Supreme Court." The backstory: one month ago a divided three-judge panel prohibited Obamacare subsidies for residents buying from the federal exchange. The Obama administration asked the full D.C. Circuit bench to rehear the case, which is reserved for matters of exceptional importance. The challengers don't want that, because if they lose at the D.C. Circuit it would make the Supreme Court less likely to take the case. "There is no doubt that this case is of great national importance. Not due to the legal principles at stake—this is a straightforward statutory construction case under well-established principles—but rather due to its policy implications for ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act ('ACA').

Fox News poll: Slim majority continues to oppose ObamaCare

Dana Blanton, Fox News
Sat, 2014-08-16
"Opposition to the 2010 health care law has been above 50 percent for over a year. And that continues to be true, as the latest Fox News national poll finds voters oppose the law by a 52-41 percent margin. Support for Obamacare has been as high as 43 percent (May 2014) and gone as low as 36 percent (January 2014). The number opposing the law has ranged from 49 percent (June 2012) to a record-high 59 percent (January 2014). As in the past, the new poll shows that most Democrats favor Obamacare (74 percent), while most Republicans (84 percent) and independents (61 percent) are against it. Voters in every age group are more likely to oppose the law than favor it, with one exception: those ages 65 and over. And that group only favors it by two percentage points."

How Obamacare could make filing taxes a nightmare

Adrianna McIntyre, Vox
Sat, 2014-08-16
"This tax season will be a messy one for most of Obamacare's 8 million enrollees. Individuals and families who bought subsidized coverage have been receiving tax credits based on whatever amount they thought they would earn this year. Upon filing taxes, the IRS will reconcile the amount of subsidy received, based on expected income, with the person's actual income. That's where things can get ugly. If the person underestimated their income for the year — and got a higher subsidy than they actually deserved — they'll owe the government the difference. But if they overestimated their income, and received too small a subsidy, they'll see a bigger tax return."

U.S. benefits enrollment season to bring more cost cutting: study

Beth Pinsker
Reuters
Thu, 2014-08-14
"When benefits enrollment season arrives this fall, employees around the country can expect to see the impact of corporate cost-cutting on their finances. Benefits costs will rise only 5 percent for employers that take certain cost-reduction measures, instead of 6.5 percent for companies that do not, according to a June survey of employers representing 7.5 million workers by the National Business Group on Health. Although costs are not rising as quickly, employees are still being squeezed. The main way companies are keeping healthcare costs in line is by shifting workers into high-deductible health plans, defined by the Internal Revenue Service as having deductibles above $1,250 for an individual. (here) For 2015, 81 percent of employers will offer a high-deductible plan as an option, up from 72 percent last year; while 32 percent will offer such plans as the only option, up from 22 percent last year.

http://kff.org/interactive/health-tracking-poll-exploring-the-publics-views-on-the-affordable-care-act-aca/

Kaiser Family Foundation
Thu, 2014-08-14
"Health Tracking Poll: Exploring the Public’s Views on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ... "

How Obamacare Is Doing Better But Feeling Worse

Drew Altman
Wall Street Journal
Wed, 2014-08-13
"The Affordable Care Act is like a patient who is feeling worse when key clinical indicators say he is doing better. Obamacare recovered from its Web site fiasco last October and went on to exceed enrollment projections in March. Despite predictions of “rate shock,” early indications are that premiums in the new insurance marketplaces are increasing modestly in most states that have made 2015 information public and more slowly than the non-group market has grown in the past. While critics said that the Affordable Care Act was having no impact on the uninsured, the share of the population that is uninsured is down significantly. Adding to the more upbeat news, health costs are rising at historically moderate rates, although the ACA has played only a supporting role in that so far.

Obamacare round two: What could bring unwanted deja vu for the White House

Brian Hughes
The Examiner
Wed, 2014-08-13
"What happens in November will play a major role in shaping President Obama’s final two years in office. No, it’s not just the 2014 midterm elections that have the White House on edge, but also the return of open enrollment in Obamacare. After the disastrous rollout of the president’s signature domestic initiative in 2013, the administration needs to avoid the problems that diminished public confidence in the most significant overhaul to the health care system since the creation of Medicare. The White House believes the technical problems that crashed healthcare.gov will become a distant memory. However, team Obama must worry about much more than just a website. Here are the top five potential Obamacare headaches looming in November:"

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