Antonin Scalia lives in a fairy-tale world: His delusional Obamacare theories will make people die

Antonin Scalia lives in a fairy-tale world: His delusional Obamacare theories will make people die

Antonin Scalia (Credit: AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


“Intellectual” justice thinks Congress will fix ACA. Really? If exchanges fall apart, people will lose coverage

By now the nine justices on the Supreme Court have reached their decision on the King v. Burwell lawsuit. It remains a secret until the court hands down its opinion in June.

The plaintiffs are four Virginia residents who have challenged the provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a Federal Health Care Insurance Exchange as a fallback for states that elected not to establish state exchanges.

If they prevail, an estimated 9 million Americans in 34 states that did not set up exchanges—in most cases because their governments objected to the ACA itself—lose the federal subsidies that make insurance coverage purchased on the federal exchange affordable.

The litigation’s perverse contradictions begin with the plaintiffs. To get standing to sue, their incomes had to be low enough to qualify for IRS tax subsidies provided through the ACA. Although they qualify, they do not want subsidies. Refusing subsidies, they claim they are illegally “coerced” into paying a small ($95) tax penalty for not buying insurance they cannot afford without subsidies.

Again, perverse.

If they prevail, more than 319,000 of their fellow Virginians will lose subsidies they currently receive. Absent the subsidies, they will probably be unable to afford health care coverage.

Another perverse contradiction. There is no state exchange in Virginia, because the GOP majority in the General Assembly refused to establish one, leaving those 319,000 Virginians to purchase health care coverage on the federal exchange. One logical resolution to the impending insurance crisis would be to allow voters in Virginia—and in the other states that have refused to set up exchanges—to go to the ballot box and oust the legislators who rejected a state exchange.

But the crisis is not political. It is actuarial. It is immediate. And it is much larger than Virginia.

“[A ruling for the plaintiffs] precipitates the insurance market death spirals that the statutory findings specifically say the statute was designed to avoid,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor during oral arguments.

The “death spiral” begins with the mass cancellation of subsidized policies that will follow a ruling against the federal exchange. Only the sickest individuals, who dare not risk going uncovered, will remain insured. The departure of healthy individuals will drive premiums higher, which will encourage more and more people to pay the tax penalty rather than pay soaring insurance premiums.

The loss of an anticipated 9 million healthier individuals who purchased coverage through the federal exchange will reverberate through all the states until the entire insurance system is no longer viable.

Yet another contradiction was articulated by Justice Antonin Scalia. His questions in printed transcripts are always unequivocal. What one misses by not sitting in the courtroom is his anger, contempt for counsel with whom he disagrees, and rank sarcasm.

“What about, what about Congress?” Scalia asked. “You really think Congress is just going to sit there while all of these disastrous consequences ensue … Congress adjusts, enacts a statute that takes care of the problem. It happens all the time. Why is it not going to happen here?”

When Solicitor General Donald Verrilli responded, “Well, this Congress, Your Honor,” Scalia cut him off.

“I don’t care what Congress you’re talking about. If the consequences are as disastrous as you say, so many million people without insurance and what not, yes, I think this Congress would act.”

Justice Clarence Thomas claims he never reads a newspaper. (He also hasn’t asked a question from the bench since February 22, 2006.) Antonin Scalia is worldly, informed and engaged.

He was probably aware that exactly 29 days before the Court heard arguments on King v. Burwell on March 4, the Republican-controlled House voted to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act. If he missed that 239-186 vote, he must know something about the 59 House votes since 2011 that would have repealed part or all of the Affordable Care Act.

Even if the House were to decide to “fix” the ACA, which would require changing one dependent clause in a 2,700-page statute, it could not do so.

One week before oral arguments, House Speaker John Boehner was embarrassed by his own caucus when a bill he brought to the floor to fund the Department of Homeland Security for one week failed for lack of Republican support.

The Supreme Court decision that comes down at the end of next month is decisive and of enormous consequence. If a majority of the justices rule against the ACA, neither the Congress nor the 34 state legislatures that refused to create state exchanges can act in time to save the health care system.

Subsidies will end immediately.

And the death spiral will begin in July.

This Is What The Latest Obamacare Supreme Court Case Is All About


The Supreme Court is expected to rule next month in a case charging that Obamacare subsidies should only be available in certain states. Michael Carvin, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs making this case, addressed justices in March. | AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren


President Barack Obama’s big health care reform law is back at the Supreme Court. Justices are expected to issue a decision in June on a new challenge to the law. Depending on which way they rule, either nothing will change or people across the country will start losing their health insurance and the already heated politics of Obamacare will get even more fiery.

Obamacare is at the Supreme Court? Is this a rerun?

Nope. Although the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in 2012 (and weakened the law’s birth control coverage provisions last year), that wasn’t the end of Obamacare’s legal troubles. Justices heard arguments in March about another lawsuit, King v. Burwell, and this one isn’t about whether Obamacare is constitutional but whether the federal government correctly implemented the law. King v. Burwell is at least as big a deal as the 2012 case, becausehealth insurance coverage for millions of people is at stake.

What is this new lawsuit about anyway?

The plaintiffs, a group of regular people recruited by conservative and libertarian think tanks opposed to the Affordable Care Act, claim that there’s a brief phrase in the law that makes health insurance tax credit subsidies illegal unless they go through a health insurance exchange — that is, an online marketplace for health plans — that was set up by a state government. That leaves out the 34 states where the federal government runs the exchange instead.

King v. Burwell is one of several basically identical lawsuits arguing that the IRS broke the law when it published a regulation allowing subsidies to go to people in states with federally created exchanges. Not surprisingly, Republican officials eventuallyembraced this lawsuit as a cool, new way to ruin Obamacare.

And how has the Obama administration responded to this?

“That’s nonsense!” would be a good way to summarize the legal response to this lawsuit, but of course it’s more complicated than that. What the government argues is that isolating the phrase “an exchange established by the state” from the rest of the lengthy statute is absurd because many other parts of the law assume subsidies are available nationwide, no matter who runs the exchange. Defenders of Obamacare have also emphasized that this is what Obama and the Democrats who wrote the law in Congress always said the Affordable Care Act would do.

How is the Supreme Court expected to rule?

Even though the high court is split between five Republican appointees and four Democratic ones, they won’t necessarily decide the case along partisan lines. Of course, during oral arguments, conservatives like Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito seemed more inclined to accept the plaintiffs’ contention that the plain language of the law can’t be ignored. Meanwhile, liberals such as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Elena Kagan made comments suggesting they agree with the Obama administration that the greater context of the law makes it clear subsidies were intended nationally, and that the IRS has the authority to interpret the language that way. And Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Republican appointee seen as a swing vote, expressed concern that reading the law in the manner favored by the plaintiffs would create a “constitutional problem,” since it would leave states a choice between establishing exchanges or seeing their insurance markets seriously damaged. Chief Justice John Roberts, who was the deciding vote in the 2012 case, barely spoke that day.

What happens if Obama wins the case?

Things stay the way they are now: Obamacare enrollees can keep their subsidies, and the politicians can continue yelling at each other about whether that’s good or bad.

And what if the plaintiffs win?

The first thing that would happens is those subsidies would disappear for about 7.5 million people in the 34 states that have federal health insurance exchanges. Those tax credits only go to people with low or moderate incomes — up to about $47,000 for a single person or $97,000 for a family of four. Without that assistance, most of these enrollees wouldn’t be able to afford their insurance anymore and would probably drop it, especially those with the lowest incomes receiving the biggest subsidies.

The subsidies would cease within weeks of a Supreme Court ruling for the plaintiffs, unless the justices decided to “stay” their ruling — that is, build in a delay in order to give politicians time to maybe do something to protect those people. Absent such protections, the Rand Corp. estimates that 8 million people who have health coverage today would wind up uninsured.

Does any of this affect me in any way?

If you don’t get your health insurance from a federal exchange created by the Affordable Care Act, then it doesn’t, no matter what the Supreme Court decides. That means anybody whose health plan comes from a job or a government program like Medicare or Medicaid. It also means anybody whose insurance came from an Obamacare exchange their home state set up, which includes people in California, Idaho, Kentucky and 13 other states, as well as in the District of Columbia.

If you used an Obamacare exchange in those other states, though, a ruling against Obama is going to hit you in the wallet big-time, and that’s probably true even if you don’t get subsidies. Experts predict that when millions of people drop their coverage,the sickest ones will be most willing to pay the unsubsidized prices, because they need it more. That, in turn, will drive up expenses for insurance companies, and they’ll respond by raising rates.

Are Obama and the Republicans in Congress really going to let that happen?

It’s hard to predict how the politics would play out, but it would be ugly no matter what. The Obama administration says it can’t do anything about people losing their subsidies unless a new law is passed giving the administration the power to do so. Meanwhile, the Republicans who control Congress can’t reach a consensus about what to do. Some of them want to do nothing and just allow the subsidies to go away and premiums to go up, while others want to offer temporary relief as they go about dismantling the rest of Obamacare. Since Obama doesn’t want Obamacare dismantled and he doesn’t want people to lose their subsidies, he probably wouldn’t go for either of those options.

What about my state? Can the governor do anything?

States have always had the option of creating a health insurance exchange for their residents under the Affordable Care Act. Most of them didn’t, in part because of intense opposition to Obamacare in a lot of places and in part because it takes a lot of work and a lot of money. And while states could try to protect their citizens by rushing to get new exchanges in place after the Supreme Court ruling, there isn’t a lot of time and money to go around. Plus, every one of the states subject to the high court’s decision has a Republican governor and/or legislature, except Delaware.

Is it really that hopeless for people who’d lose their subsidies?

Not necessarily. If enough political pressure builds on Congress, Republicans might go along with at least a temporary restoration of the subsidies with few or no strings attached, if they were willing to take heat from conservatives about “endorsing” Obamacare. And despite its assertions, the Obama administration might be able to fast-track the approval of new exchanges in states where the politics compel Republicans to do so (although none of the ways the administration could theoretically do this have ever been tried, and their legality isn’t even totally clear).

Proof That Bigots Are Not the Best and Brightest

Rapture-thanks-Obama | Attribution: None


Michele Bachmann has assured us that the Rapture is imminent, and that “we in our lifetimes potentially could see Jesus Christ returning to earth and the Rapture of the church.”

Thanks, Obama.

But until our Evangelical neighbors start drifting skyward and getting in the way of Amazon’s delivery drones and drive CNN to distraction, we have to continue to deal with our mundane reality.

Like so-called Religious Freedom legislation. And the people wewish would float away (seriously, Michele, nobody wants the Rapture more than we do), like Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, author of one of those repressive RFRAs.

It’s funny how we keep hearing that, as the American Family Association’s Tim Wildmon puts it, we hate them because they allegedly ‘represent God’s message of a moral standard having to do with sexuality’ while they have absolutely no standards where honesty is concerned.

And let’s face it: honesty made the Ten Commandments and sexual morals did not. So which is more important? Thou shallt not diddle or thou shallt not bear false witness?

So we find Bob Marshall lying like a rug about his legislation and other recent RFRAs, like Indiana’s, which he claims is identical to Virginia’s current 2007 law – which is based on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 – even though it is not.

Marshall is angry that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe published a letter in the Indianapolis Star inviting businesses to relocate to Virginia. You’d think he’d be happy McAuliffe is drumming up business for his state, but Marshall takes it as an insult to heterosexuals.

Gov. McAuliffe wrote,

In light of that responsibility and recent events in Indiana, I would like to welcome you to take advantage of Virginia’s open, inclusive and thriving business environment.

In Virginia, we do not discriminate against our friends and neighbors, particularly those who are supporting local businesses and generating economic activity.

According to Marshall,

When you actually look at the rhetoric, that you need these laws to hire the best and the brightest, that kind of like is a sweeping statement that says that heterosexuals cannot be the best and the brightest.

No. I think it’s saying that bigots cannot be the best and the brightest.

And to prove my point, Marshall says that the LGBT community isn’t being discriminated against anyway:

My question is, what possible rights can a person who has this inclination have that you don’t have right now? I mean, homosexuals go to public schools, they can go to colleges, they vote, they drive cars, they have businesses, they go to country clubs. I don’t know what else is needed.

You don’t get to enjoy the kingdom of God when you’re a big fat liar, do you? Maybe Bachmann is right to get all worked up. It seems strange that she would blame Obama for what is, after all, supposed to be a good thing.

Maybe she agrees with Harlem pastor James David Manning who likes to rant about “Obama’s homo-demons,” and the coming “homosexual Armageddon!” Manning says “The sodomites are the most vicious, demonic, vile people,” even though he and his Evangelical friends are the ones acting like ***hats.

There is something seriously messed up about people like this, and what is disturbing is that these attitudes cut across all segments of the right wing, from top down and from bottom up. Hate permeates the Republican Party.

Well, hate and stupidity. We can’t forget that James Dobson thinks bisexuality means orgies:

“I would like them to think, just for a moment, about ‘LGBT. The ‘B’ stand for bisexual! That’s orgies! Are you really going to support this?”

Does he sound a bit breathless and excited to you, too?

These people are not only backing some of the crazy laws passed by Republican legislatures, but they’re the ones responsible for them being written in the first place.

Even while the Republicans are giving our money to corporations hand over fist, Liberty Counsel’s Matt Staver is claiming “studies estimate” that “homosexuality” is costing the federal government tens of billions of dollars (heterosexuals don’t cost a penny, apparently).

It is a well-known fact that stupid people don’t realize they are stupid. As Plato said, you have to be wise to know how much you don’t know. And there is not a drop of wisdom to be found in the Republican Party, which is living proof that room temperature IQs go hand in hand with bigotry.

I personally suspect that all these men have very small penises too as a driving force of their insecurities, though I have no interest in proving it (and by Republican standards, at any rate, should not have to). I can’t exclude Michele Bachmann and her wife Marcus from this either, for the same reasons.

I’m not sayin’. I’m just sayin’.

By: Hrafnkell Haraldsson

The Good, The Bad and The Infuriating Aspects of Ted Cruz Signing Up for Obamacare


attribution: none

The Daily Banter – Bob Cesca

On one hand, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) signing up for an Obamacare health insurance policy is fantastic news. As we discussed yesterday, Cruz had a number of options at his disposal after losing his health insurance coverage due to his wife taking a leave of absence from Goldman Sachs. And no, he isn’t required to buy an Obamacare policy, so he absolutely had options.

But before we recap his options, it’s important to underscore that contrary to what many observers were suggesting throughout the day Tuesday, no — the law does not mandate that all members of Congress and their staffers enroll in an Obamacare exchange plan. Or else. The law merely states that exchange plans are the only plans offered to congressional employees, including members of Congress. Here’s the text from the ACA (emphasis mine):


(i) REQUIREMENT- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are–

(I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or

(II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).

In other words, members of Congress can do whatever they want, but the government is no longer offering the old Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) to members and their staff — only the exchange plans under Obamacare. And since the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is continuing to pay 72 percent of the premiums (the truth behind the so-called “Obamacare exemption for Congress”), the best value for members and especially staffers is to sign up for an Obamacare plan.

If Cruz doesn’t have to sign up for an Obamacare plan, what were Cruz’s other non-Obamacare options?

He could’ve immediately enrolled in COBRA, which would’ve allowed Cruz and his wife to keep their existing policy. He could’ve signed up for an Obamacare policy as an individual, like some members of Congress are doing to sidestep the so-called “illegal” premium sharing plan implemented by the OPM (continuing the policy of premium sharing from Congress’ previous health insurance program). Or he could’ve simply enrolled directly with an insurance provider in his state.

And what did Cruz choose instead of all of these alternatives? He chose his arch-nemesis: Obamacare. Why? Because none of the above options would’ve included the 72 percent premium sharing from the government. And the plans offers, probably one of the Gold-level plans is likely comparable to his wife’s Goldman Sachs plan. So, not only did Cruz basically endorse the Obamacare option, but he did so in part because of Obama’s allegedly impeachment-worthy decision to continue the premium sharing plan for Congress.

All told, this was almost a de facto endorsement of Obamacare. Ted Cruz, of all people, thinks Obamacare is the best deal for his family. The hypocrisy angle is almost a sideshow compared with this. Cruz filibustered Obamacare. He helped force a government shutdown over Obamacare. He’s lied dozens of times about Obamacare. And now he’s basically saying, “Hey, this Obamacare thing and the employer premium thing that I’m opposed to — really great deal!” So, again, for a rabid Obamacare enemy to pull off an inadvertent Nixon-to-China moment is a huge endorsement of the law.

On the other hand, it should also infuriate anyone who has an insurance policy due to or via Obamacare.

I’m personally just now reaching the contemptuous anger stage in my coverage of Ted Cruz this week, precisely because of this story. If Cruz makes it all the way to the White House (he won’t, but let’s — cough — imagine) one of the first things he’ll do is to repeal Obamacare, thus stripping me and 16+ million other Americans of our insurance policies. Repealing “every word” of the law also means repealing the part about pre-existing conditions, which would subsequently allow my insurance company to either dump me or to jack up my premiums beyond affordability.

Meanwhile, Cruz won’t have to worry about his current Obamacare plan once he’s president. Why? Because he’ll be covered by the other government-run health insurance program, FEHBP — the aforementioned Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. There’s something wickedly unfair about this scenario, not that it’ll ever happen but that he’d jump at the chance if he got it. It’s like blowing up a bridge just after he’s managed to make it across. Screw everyone still on the bridge.

You know what this is like? President Glenn Greenwald ordering a series of drone strikes. It’s like Ayn Rand receiving Social Security and — wait, never mind. She did. Someone said to me yesterday that I probably didn’t return any of the money I saved from the Bush tax cuts. Well, no, I didn’t. I also didn’t oppose the tax cuts for middle class earners (my income level at the time), going so far as to filibuster those cuts on the Senate floor and voting dozens of times to repeal them. It’s more than hypocrisy. It’s about the decision to sign up for something he’s all along claimed to hate, but now thinks is a pretty good deal — only after misleading millions of Americans into hating the bill and therefore electing more lawmakers who want to kill it.

Ultimately, though, I’m filing this particular chapter in the Ted Cruz saga into the same folder with stories about radically anti-gay Christian evangelists getting caught having same-sex affairs. Hypocrites, yes. But also iron-fisted persuaders who influenced and indoctrinated millions before committing their hypocritical deeds. The hate lives on.

A Supreme Court decision against Obamacare could cost states billions and billions of dollars

Washington Post ~ Greg Sargent

If you want a sense of just how far-reaching the impact of a Supreme Court decision gutting Obamacare subsidies could prove, new data on health care signups released this week provide a fresh way to game out such a ruling’s consequences.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced the other daythat some 11.4 million people have signed up for health plans through federal marketplaces. The new HHS data also provides a breakdown of the number of sign-ups in each of the three dozen states on the federal exchange — precisely the states that would no longer get subsidies if the Court invalidates tax credits to people in all federal exchange states.

This provides a way of approximating just how much money in tax credits each state could lose if the Court rules that way. We’re talking about enormous amounts of money: Florida could lose nearly half a billion dollars per month in subsidies to its constituents. Texas could lose a quarter of a billion dollars per month. North Carolina and Georgia could each lose over one hundred million per month.

Here it is in chart form (a note on methodology is below), detailing the impact of such a ruling on the 14 states that stand to lose the most:

The column on the left details the approximate total number of people in each state who qualify for subsidies. The middle column details the average amount in subsidies per person. And the column on the right details the approximate total number of dollars per month that are set to flow into each state — money that would presumably stop flowing if SCOTUS guts the subsidies.

This methodology was suggested to me by Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation who may know more about the Affordable Care Act than anyone else alive. He says one reasonable way of trying to calculate total subsidies per state is to take the total number of new signups in each state, and multiply that by the percentage in each state who qualify for tax credits, data that is also supplied by HHS. That produces the approximate total in each state who qualify for subsidies (the left column).  You then multiply that by HHS data detailing the average monthly subsidy payment in each state (the middle column), and it gives you the approximate total in monthly subsidies to each state (the right hand column).

A few caveats: First, these calculations are very rough and approximate. The data on the percentages who qualify for subsidies and on average monthly subsidies are a little bit older than the newest data on total signups (but they probably won’t change much). Also, not all of the people who signed up will end up paying, so these totals will likely drop somewhat, though it’s hard to know how much. Still, Levitt says this is a good way of trying to gain a rough sense of how much money in each state we’re talking about here.

“This a very reasonable approach to estimating the amount of federal subsidies people living in these states will receive,” Levitt says. “Billions of dollars are flowing to low and middle income people under the law, and most of those are going to people in states using HealthCare.gov. This makes it very tangible: If the Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs, states would be losing in some cases hundreds of millions in federal money per month.”

If defenders of the law get their way, numbers like these could end up having legal significance. A number of states have argued, in a brief filed for the government’s side, that the plain text of the ACA contains noexplicit threat to withdraw subsidies from states that fail to set up exchanges. Thus, they argue, if the Supreme Court guts subsidies, it would impose a “dramatic” hidden punishment on them and their residents for their decision not to set up an exchange, despite the fact that they had no clear warning of the consequences of that decision. This raises serious Constitutional concerns, and as a result, the states argue, the Supreme Court should opt for the interpretation of the statute that doesn’t raise those concerns — the government’s interpretation that subsidies are universal.

This federalism argument, which has been expanded upon by law professors Nicholas Bagley and Abbe Gluck, could potentially appeal to Anthony Kennedy or possibly to John Roberts. The fact that the states stand to lose such enormous amounts in subsidies to their residents could help underscore that case.

Indeed, all of this suggests that a SCOTUS ruling against the ACA could create real problems for GOP lawmakers in many states. Reuters reportsthat officials in some states are currently scrambling to figure out what to do in the event of such a ruling. Even state officials who want to respond by setting up their own exchanges — keeping subsidies flowing — tell Reuters they may not be able to do so for political and other logistical reasons, meaning they’d lose subsidies even if they don’t want to. In Ohio, for instance, GOP governor John Kasich has suggested he wants to come up with a fix but doesn’t seem clear on what. It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that relatively few red states have signed a brief in support of this lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are working hard to convey the impression that they might have a contingency plan in place — or even their own alternative health reform — for those who might lose subsidies and coverage. Such feints are probably just designed to persuade the Justices that the consequences of an anti-ACA ruling might somehow not prove so dire. But, taking those Republicans at their word, numbers such as the above provide a useful way to judge any such contingency plans or alternatives: Do they come anywhere close to covering the same numbers of people?

Conservatives might seize on these sums of money for their own purposes.Some on the right are arguing that, if SCOTUS does gut subsidies to millions, Republicans must not offer a fix that spends anything close to the same amount in subsidizing those people’s health care, and instead must advocate for a return to a pre-Obamacare baseline level of spending and propose “free market” solutions instead. These conservatives will likely argue that such huge expenditures as those detailed above underscore their point.

As I’ve repeatedly written, I think there’s a decent chance the Justices could side with the challengers. The massive amounts of money at stake underscore that if this does happen, a whole new political and policy story will unfold from there, with consequences that no one should pretend to be able to predict.

The White House’s unlikely ally at the Supreme Court

A view of the Supreme Court, Jan. 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty)

A view of the Supreme Court, Jan. 16, 2015 in Washington, DC | Drew Angerer/Getty

MSNBC ~ Rachel Maddow Show

In recent years, one group has had more success at the Supreme Court than any other. It’s not Republicans. It’s also not conservatives, per se. It’s not the NRA, the Koch brothers, or the religious right movement.
In Justice John Roberts’ court, there’s been a lot for the right to like, but Big Business and Corporate America have consistently found a friendly ear among the majority of the sitting justices. With this in mind, Stephanie Mencimer’s report last night stood out as especially significant.
If getting rid of Obamacare is such a good idea, why isn’t corporate America getting behind King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court case designed to demolish the Affordable Care Act? More than 52 different parties have weighed in with briefs in advance of oral arguments on March 4…. But not a single business group – not the US Chamber of Commerce, not any of the health industry companies and trade groups that opposed the law when it was being drafted – has presented a brief endorsing this lawsuit.
These outfits are either backing the Obama administration’s attempt to defeat the suit or sitting out this case. Briefs in the case help explain why: Obamacare is working.
Mencimer pointed to a brief filed by the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the nation’s largest health care provider, which described the argument underpinning King v. Burwell as “absurd,” while also making the argument that the system at risk in this case is working quite well, both for the public and for America’s hospitals.
What’s more, it’s not just private medical institutions pushing against the ridiculous litigation. National Journal reported a couple of weeks ago that private insurers are doing the same thing.
In an amicus brief filed Wednesday, health insurers said a ruling against the subsidies would have widespread and severe ripple effects, potentially throwing states’ entire insurance markets into chaos.
Stopping the flow of subsidies “would create severely dysfunctional insurance markets” in 34 states, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s leading trade organization, said in its amicus brief. “It would leave consumers in those States with a more unstable market and far higher costs than if the ACA had not been enacted.” […]
AHIP … said the state and federal exchanges work the same as a practical issue. The subsidies and the law’s individual mandate are part of an interconnected series of policies designed to stabilize insurance markets, AHIP said – irrespective of who runs the exchange in any particular market.
We generally think of Big Business and Corporate America aligning themselves with Republicans, and for good reason; that’s usually true. But on the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans like to pretend is bad for the private sector, the usual partisan lines are blurred – the White House, insurance companies, hospitals, and even pharmaceutical companies are all telling the Supreme Court that this stupid case is genuinely dangerous, both to the American public and the American marketplace.
And that’s no small development. It’s quite easy to imagine Republicans on the Supreme Court ignoring the White House and deliberately gutting one of President Obama’s accomplishments, but it’s tougher to imagine those same justices blowing off private-sector leaders – the same corporate leaders hoping to avoid systemic chaos and shattered balance sheets.

Top GOP Senator: Maybe We Won’t Act If SCOTUS Guts Obamacare


AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

TPM LiveWire

“We want to be responsible about repairing any damage that Obamacare does,” Alexander said, according to a Politico article published Tuesday. “If it creates a shock to the system by causing 5 million Americans suddenly to put their insurance and their subsidies at risk, then we need to think if there’s anything we need to do. Maybe there’s not.”

His remarks reflect the difficulties that Republicans are having when it comes to devising a health care plan of their own, as TPM documented last week. They also indicate that GOP leaders may be changing their tune after insisting that they’ll respond if the Court rules against the Obama administration in King v. Burwell, slated for a decision by the end of June.

Some conservative members don’t want the party to act on a replacement at all. In the House, Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Jeff Duncan (R-SC) introduced an amendment to the latest Obamacare repeal bill that strips out language calling for the party to craft an alternative.

Disaster Looming For Republicans As Poll Finds 64% Want To Keep Obamacare Subsidies


President Obama | White House Photo


A new Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that Congressional Republicans are living in a difference universe from most Americans. The poll found that 64% of Americans want to Congress to act to restore ACA subsidies if the Supreme Court rules against the health care law.

Via the Kaiser Family Foundation:


If the Supreme Court rules that financial assistance is only available in states with state-run marketplaces, nearly two-thirds of the public says that Congress should take action so that people in all states can be eligible for financial help to purchase health insurance. Majorities of Democrats and independents say they would support Congressional action while Republicans are more divided. And, although the Supreme Court’s decision would have significant implications for many people in states using the federal exchange, their views are similar to those of people living in states with their own marketplace.

A nightmare scenario for Republicans would unfold if the Supreme Court ruled the ACA subsidies unconstitutional in states that have not set up their own exchanges. Republicans are committed to killing the ACA. Their most ardent supporters want to kill the law. The problem is that nearly two-thirds of the American people want congressional Republicans to act to protect the subsidies if the Supreme Court rules them unconstitutional.

Millions of people will lose their health care if the subsidies go away. The fate of the subsidies would become a big issue in the 2016 presidential election, and the Republicans will be trapped between doing what a majority wants and what their right-wing ideological base wants. A Supreme Court ruling against the subsidies would be a disaster for the Republican Party. If Congressional Republicans refuse to act to restore, the subsidies voters will blame them for the loss of their health care.

The House has announced that they will vote to repeal the ACA next week. Only 32% of those polled in Kaiser poll want the law repealed. Congressional Republicans are completely out of touch with the majority of Americans on the issue of the ACA. If the Supreme Court rules against the subsidies, the conservative justices will be dropping a ticking time bomb into the laps of Republicans.

No matter how the Supreme Court rules, this won’t end well for the GOP.

Poll: Americans hate Obamacare (until they use it)

America Blog

Oh America, you are adorable.

Back in 2010, a Newsweek poll showed that Americans “hate” Obamacare, but loved it component parts.

Even Republicans, who “loathe” Obamacare, overwhelmingly support most of the legislation’s key provisions.

Doc via Shutterstock

So it’s shouldn’t come as a surprise that a new Gallup poll shows Americans, yet again, hopping mad about Obamacare.

But as CNN notes, another Gallup poll shows that the actual people who use Obamacare, love it:

Over seven in 10 Americans who bought new health insurance policies through the government exchanges earlier this year rate the quality of their healthcare and their healthcare coverage as “excellent” or “good.” These positive evaluations are generally similar to the reviews that all insured Americans give to their health insurance.

The people who hate the Affordable Care Act are generally people who have no idea what it even does, and who aren’t affected by it at all.

There are a number of lessons here:

1. Democrats stink at messaging.

2. Republicans are awfully good at messaging.

3. Lying doesn’t tend to impede the success of the GOP message machine.

4. Americans are seldom shy about having a strong opinion on something they know nothing about.

In the end, I’d like to say ignore the polls, but the Republicans are so good at misrepresenting the truth, that even a lie — especially a lie — can do a lot of damage. I’ve said from day one that Democrats were doing a lousy job of selling their programs. Whether it was the stimulus that quite literally saved our country, or Obamacare, that wasn’t all we wanted, but it also wasn’t too shoddy either.

Unfortunately in life, and politics, doing good isn’t enough. You have to market what you’re selling, and continue to market it even after it’s sold. The bad guys won’t stop trying to shoot it down. And you should never cease defending it.

Uninsured Rate Drops To Lowest Level Since The ’90s


Obamacare is squeezing down the number of Americans who don’t have health insurance, according to yet another survey. | AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

So, does this means that berating Obamacare is off the GOP agenda this election cycle?  I doubt it…

The Huffington Post

Another day, another survey showing that Obamacare is beginning to cure America’s uninsured problem.

The latest numbers come from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which polled more than 27,000 people during the first three months of the year. Forty-one million U.S. residents, or 13.1 percent, were uninsured during the quarter when benefits started to kick in for people who signed up for coverage into private insurance or Medicaid via the Obamacare exchanges or elsewhere.

That’s the lowest number and percentage of uninsured people since the CDC started using this version of its survey in 1997. It’s also down 3.8 million people and 1.3 percentage points from the end of 2013.

The Affordable Care Act’s impact on the uninsured actually is understated by the CDC survey. More than 30 percent of Obamacare’s 8 million private health insurance enrollees signed up in March or later. That means their benefits wouldn’t have kicked in by the end of the third quarter, so a portion of them wouldn’t have had coverage by the time of the CDC poll.

Polling and research by other organizations indicates a greater reduction of the uninsured after March. By the end of June, the uninsured rate fell to 13.3 percent, the lowest since 2008, according to Gallup survey findings released last month. Gallup’s number for the second quarter was down down from 17.1% at the end of 2013. In an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Harvard School of Public Health pegged the number of people who gained coverage since last year at 10 million. The Congressional Budget Office projects 12 million people will gain health insurance by year’s end.

While the CDC survey shows the uninsured rate for children and adults over 65 years old didn’t change much, the share of working-age adults who had no health coverage fell from 20.4 percent at the end of the last year to 18.4 percent during the first three months of 2014. The biggest drop was among adults 19-25 years old; the uninsured rate for this group fell more than 5 points to 20.9 percent.

As other studies have shown, states that adopted Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid benefits to more poor residents covered a lot more uninsured than those that didn’t. During the first quarter of this year, the uninsured rates in Medicaid-expansion states fell from 18.4 percent to 15.7. In states that refused to accept the Medicaid expansion, the uninsured rate was virtually unchanged, the CDC found. Twenty-three states, mostly in the South, have not opened up Medicaid to more people.

The CDC report also makes plain the connection between income and health insurance. The uninsured rate for poor U.S. residents was 24.1 percent, compared to 26.2 percent for “near-poor” people and 9 percent for everyone else. Obamacare provides financial assistance to people who earn up to four times the federal poverty level, which is about $94,000 for a family of four.

The ethnic group with the highest uninsured rate was Hispanics, at 27.2 percent in the first three months of this year, a decline of more than three points since 2013. The uninsured rate also fell for African-Americans, from 18.9 percent to 15.1 percent. Asians had the third-highest rate at 13.3 percent, followed by whites at 11.5 percent; the share of uninsured Asians and whites didn’t significantly change.

The Census Bureau also released survey findings about health insurance in the United States Tuesday, but its figures are from 2013, before benefits from Obamacare enrollment began to take effect. The Census also changed the way it conducts this survey, making comparisons to previous years impractical.

In 2013, 13.4 percent of the population, or 42 million people, lacked health insurancefor the entire year, the bureau found. By contrast, the CDC survey asks respondents whether they have coverage at the time of the interview, meaning they may have had coverage at another point during the same year.

The next phase of sign-ups on the health insurance exchanges begins Nov. 15 and will run through Feb. 15. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 7 million additional people who currently lack coverage will gain it during the open enrollment period, and more are expected to sign up in the coming years.

But neither the Congressional Budget Office nor anyone else believes Obamacare will ever bring the number of uninsured Americans down to zero. A decade from now, CBO projects 31 million people will not have health insurance, 25 million fewer than if the Affordable Care Act hadn’t been enacted, but still 11 percent of the population.

This story has been updated with figures from the Census Bureau survey.