What does a ruling about automobile financing have to do with Obamacare? As it turns out, plenty.
This week the Senate acted to repeal a piece of regulatory guidance the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued back in March 2013. As a Politico report Wednesday noted, that precedent allows Congress to nullify other regulatory actions the federal government took years ago—including those on Obamacare.
The Senate action regarding the CFPB guidance came pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (CRA).
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There are periodic reports of conservative plotting to make one more push before the midterms, like this quote from conservative health-care think tank chief Grace-Marie Turner:
“Congress is going to have to come back to a full repeal-and-replace measure, and we have been working every week since October to refine this legislation at the behest of the Senate. (Former) Sen. Rick Santorum has really been the energy behind this effort,” said Turner, who also explained the other players in the effort.
“Heritage Foundation, Ethics and Public Policy Center, the American Enterprise Institute, a lot of state-based think tanks and a lot of experts from around the country have been putting together a proposal that we believe cannot only get majority support in the Congress but majority support of the American people to fix this for good,” Turner said.
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Time and opportunity still exist to replace Obamacare.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., ought to make it a priority, and should make clear he is open to pushing through a budget resolution next month to make it happen.
It can’t happen without the budget resolution, because that’s the only way they can avoid a bill-killing filibuster and pass the healthcare reform with a bare majority of 50 votes (plus Vice President Mike Pence) in the Senate.
Here’s why and how it could still come together.
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This week the Texas Public Policy Foundation, on behalf of individual Texans burdened by Obamacare, filed to join the Texas-led, 20 state lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional as amended by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has already held that the individual mandate absent the tax penalty is unconstitutional,” said Robert Henneke, general counsel and director of the Center for the American Future at TPPF. “Now that Congress has set the tax penalty at zero, it no longer performs the essential function of a tax, which is to generate revenue for the federal government. Under the Supreme Court’s own analysis in the NFIB v. Sebulius case, there is no remaining legal basis on which to uphold the individual mandate, which cannot be severed from the Affordable Care Act as a whole. By joining this lawsuit, the Foundation seeks to accomplish what Congress has failed to do — fully strike down this unconstitutional law.”
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Thirty-nine health policy experts and representatives of a broad cross-section of organizations joined in signing a comment letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding its proposed rule on Short-Term, Limited-Duration Insurance.
They argue that the Obama administration exerted “regulatory overreach” in limiting the sale of short-term policies to 90 days and prohibiting their renewal “in an effort to limit the sale of these policies, constrain consumer choice, and impose federal regulations on a product whose regulation the statute reserves to the states.”
“We hope this will convince CMS to amend its proposed rule to allow, among other things, renewability of short-term policies,” said Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, who helped organize the letter.
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Short-term, limited duration (STLD) health insurance has long been offered to individuals through the non-group market and through associations. The product was designed for people who experience a temporary gap in health coverage.1 Unlike other products that are considered “limited benefit” or “excepted benefit” policies – such as cancer-only policies or hospital indemnity policies that pay a fixed dollar benefit per inpatient stay – short-term policies are generally considered to be “major medical” coverage; however, short-term policies are distinguished from other comprehensive major medical policies because they only provide coverage for a limited term, typically less than 365 days. Short-term policies are also characterized by other significant limitations, including the types of services covered, often with a dollar maximum.
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The Trump Administration has been looking for lifeboats for Americans trapped in ObamaCare exchanges, and one project is to expand “association health plans,” or AHPs, that let employers team up to offer coverage. But the fine print in the proposed Labor Department rule is causing concern and needs to be cleaned up.
The issue is whether the Trump rule will let association health plans set prices based on risk, which is how insurance is supposed to work. The point of the rule is to let businesses enjoy the flexibility that large employers have under a law known as Erisa. Under the Affordable Care Act bigger businesses have fared much better than those stuck in the small group market, which is heavily regulated.
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As goes Iowa, so goes the nation — or at least that’s the conventional wisdom during presidential elections. Let’s hope the same rule applies to healthcare reform.
Earlier this month, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law that takes advantage of a major loophole in Obamacare. The legislation, based on a similar effort in Tennessee, enables any Iowan to enroll in a “health benefit plan” sponsored by the Iowa Farm Bureau. Due to a legal technicality, the plans aren’t subject to Obamacare’s premium-inflating regulations.
The reform is a laudable attempt to give consumers an affordable alternative to the plans for sale on Obamacare’s exchanges. Until Congress makes good on its promise to repeal and replace the law, other states can liberate their residents from the law’s financial burdens by following Iowa’s lead.
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Congressional leaders were poised last month to spend tens of billions of dollars in the omnibus bill to temporarily shore up Obamacare’s failing health insurance system.
That money, however, never would have given Americans the long-term relief they so desperately need.
After this idea was struck from the spending bill, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who had worked closely with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to shape a bipartisan deal, said that “the only choice we have is to go back to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.”
We agree. Obamacare is broken and cannot be fixed, and there is a better way forward.
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