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 Journalreported 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.
Florida’s anti-Obamacare governor and his tea party allies in the Legislature pay less for state-funded health insurance than janitors, cops, or teachers.
Last year, political neophyte Rick Scott spent $73 million of his own money to bring the tea party’s anti-government, pro-privatization agenda to the Florida governor’s office. Today, the former executive pays just $30 a month for health care—and lets taxpayers cover the rest.
The governor, a proud bearer of the Republican Party’s deregulation standard, has spent his first half-year in office decrying government waste: He’s laid off thousands of Sunshine State employees, slashed their benefits, turned down (most of) the federal government’s health care dollars, and put extra financial pressure on Florida retirees and Medicaid recipients. But Scott and his dependents pay one-fifth what a janitor in the state Capitol pays for health insurance…and less than 3 percent of what a retired state trooper pays for life-saving coverage.
When asked about the double standard, a spokesman for Scott declined to comment, calling his family’s cheap state coverage “private matters.”
But the matter has huge implications for citizens of the state. Scott sits atop an upside-down benefits system that heavily subsidizes health care costs for the best-off state employees while forcing loyal rank-and-file workers to spend more of their shrinking paychecks for basic coverage. According to Gary Fineout, the longtime Tallahassee reporter who broke the story:
Scott is among nearly 32,000 people in state government who pay relatively low health insurance premiums. It’s a perk that is available to high-ranking state officials, including those in top management at all state agencies. Nearly all 160 state legislators are also enrolled in the program that costs just $8.34 a month for individual coverage and $30 a month for family coverage.
So who pays to give Scott and his cronies their cut-rate coverage? Taxpayers do. It’s not clear how many of the state’s 32,000 top-ranking VIPs cover themselves, and how many get their entire families on the state plan. Depending on that breakdown, Floridians are paying between $1.3 and $4.8 million every month to extend this perk to their political elites. That could amount to as much as $57.6 million a year—12 times what the state spent on public broadcasting before Scott decided to defund the radio and TV stations, calling them “a special interest.”
Richard James Verone allegedly walked into a bank and handed a note to the teller saying he was armed and demanding a single dollar. He then sat down and waited for the police to arrive. “He’s sitting on the sofa as you walk in the front door,” the teller said in the 911 call. Verone, who was unarmed, demanded such a small amount because he wasn’t interested in making money; he wanted to get sent to prison, so he could receive health care to treat a growth in his chest and two ruptured disks. “I’m sort of a logical person and that was my logic, what I came up with,” Verone said in a jailhouse interview. “If it is called manipulation, then out of necessity because I need medical care, then I guess I am manipulating the courts to get medical care.” He appears in court June 28.
Since as Rachel Maddow noted on her show [last night], John Boehner decided to allow open debate and endless amendments during the House debate on the budget, we got to see Anthony Weiner giving this speech. Rep. Weiner asked the House Republicans to defund their own health care plans since they don’t want every day Americans to have the same options that they have as members of Congress.
I still want single payer but if we’re going to argue about how completely hypocritical Republicans are on this issue, Congressman Weiner is exactly right. There are a couple of models you can take with reforming the health insurance industry and with making sure you provide affordable services to everyone in the country. You either have the government replace the insurance industries and they manage the plans or you still have everyone pay in to private corporations and you regulate the insurance industries the way utility industries are regulated and they are not allowed to make excessive profits from those who are covered. More…
Republican efforts to repeal the health care reform law died a quick death in the Senate Wednesday, with a united Democratic caucus voting down a GOP repeal bill that cleared the House last month.
A procedural vote ended the repeal effort, 47-51, as expected. Democrats framed the Republican amendment as an attempt to take health benefits away from Americans.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed the amendment – the repeal bill the House passed last month – to the Federal Aviation Administration’s reauthorization bill. He called the vote an opportunity for health reform supporters to say, “yes, maybe my vote for this bill was a mistake, and that we can do better.”
Just holding the vote is a victory for Republicans: McConnell managed to bring it to the floor of a Democrat-controlled senate. And some moderate Democrats, who voted against the health law last year, are now on the record with a vote in favor of President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.
The country is relatively split in its support for the law, particularly in states where moderate Democrats have to face reelection in 2012.
Republicans hope that support for the law erodes further, forcing Democrats to reconsider their support for health reform.
Democrats put up a budget point of order, a procedural tool designed to highlight the fact that repeal would add about $230 billion to the deficit, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. Republicans have strongly objected to the figure, arguing that the reform law would add to the deficit.
McConnell has promised that he will force numerous votes against the health care reform law.
The conservative campaign against President Obama’s health care reform law has been built around baseless distortions and fabrications about the policy, such as its mythical “death panels” that would “pull the plug on grandma,” the false claim that the law is “job killing,” and the equally false claim that the law will “explode the deficit.” President Obama has largely avoided taking on this disinformation directly, but in a speech today sponsored by the pro-reform Families USA, the president lambasted these conservative falsehoods, saying the fear mongering “just doesn’t match up to reality.” And noting that conservatives tried to claim the law is “granny-threatening,” Obama joked, “I can report that granny is safe!”:
OBAMA: Now as important as what is happening right now, is what isn’t happening right now. You may have heard once or twice that this is a job-crushing, granny-threatening, budget-busting monstrosity. That’s how it’s been portrayed by opponents. But that just doesn’t match up toreality. […]
And I can report that granny is safe! In fact, grandma’s Medicare is stronger than ever. And if she was one of the millions who fell into the donut hole last year, she’ll received a $250 check, or soon will, to help her afford her medicine, and a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs, as part of the affordable care act.
Conservatives are forced to resort to deception on health care because Americans overwhelming don’t want the Affordable Care Act repealed and favor most of its components. Meanwhile, Republicans have no clear plan to address health care on their own, should their doomed repeal bid actually succeed.
House Republicans voted unanimously on Wednesday to fully repeal health care reform, though Senate leaders have said they will not take up the lower chamber’s bill. Instead, the fight will move to the less glamorous arenas of funding and rule writing. The vote was 245-189, with three Democrats — Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), and Mike Ross (D-Ark.) — voting for repeal.
The vote to repeal health care was initially delayed by a parliamentary debacle in which two House Republicans skipped the swearing-in ceremony for a Capitol fundraiser, yet voted despite not being official members of Congress. It was delayed an additional week as the House paid tribute to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other victims of the Arizona massacre.
The health care bill that the House would repeal allows parents to keep children on their health plans until the age of 26, bars insurers from denying service due to preexisting conditions, expands Medicaid funding dramatically and extends coverage to some 30 million uninsured Americans by 2019. It’s the largest piece of social policy the Democratic Party has enacted in decades. “It is a big deal, as Joe Biden said, in other words,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told progressive media Wednesday morning.
The GOP is calling it the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. Democrats, defending the bill, argued that covering 30 million additional people necessarily creates jobs in the health care sector and reduces the burden on small businesses. And repealing it would add more than $200 billion to the federal deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office. “I want to just advise people watching at home playing the now-popular drinking game, if you take a shot whenever the Republicans say something that’s not true, please assign a designated driver,” Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said.
With the Republican legislative agenda increasingly focused on repealing health care reform, manyobservers are beginning to question whether GOPers in Congress will personally abide by their beliefs and take the next step of forgoing government-sponsored health insurance for themselves.
In sum, only eight GOP congressman, or three percent of all House Republicans, have opted out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan. One Republican loudly complained about having his own government-sponsored health insurance delayed approximately four weeks. But most GOPers have quietly continued to accept government-sponsored health care while loudly decrying the government’s role in helping provide health care to a segment of the American public.
ThinkProgress recently caught up with a number of congressmen to ask whether they too planned to continue receiving health insurance through the federal government. Their reasons for continuing to take government-subsidized health insurance ran the gamut — from Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL), whose justification was that he was “actually lowering” premiums for older members of Congress, to Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who admitted that accepting government-sponsored health care “could be” hypocritical, but shrugged it off nonetheless.
ThinkProgress compiled a video of other Republican congressmen explaining why they want to repeal health care reform for the nation but plan to keep government-subsidized health care for themselves. More…
The Pulitzer Prize winning website, which is associated with the St. Petersburg Times, noted in announcing the award that “it is inaccurate to call the plan a government takeover because it relies largely on the existing system of health coverage provided by employers.”
“It is true that the law does significantly increase government regulation of health insurance. But it is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market,” the site said.
Politifact noted that it is not weighing in on the validity or effectiveness of the health care law itself, but rather on the truthfulness of the characterization of it. It noted that under the bill a majority of Americans will continue to get health coverage from their employers through private insurance companies, that the government did not take control over hospitals or doctors, and that the law did not include a public option, whereby a government run insurance plan would compete with private companies. More…