Gruber Much Greater in ACA, King v. Burwell Decision Looms

Editor’s Note – As the Supreme Court gets set to hand down its ruling in the King v. Burwell case concerning subsidies for Obamacare in states without their own exchanges, much consternation has gripped Washington, D.C. The ruling could came any day now.

The case here isn’t about the law in general, it’s about the specific question of whether tax credits, or subsidies, offered on federally-established exchanges are legal under Obamacare. The law allowed states to establish their own insurance exchanges or to let the federal government do it for them using the HealthCare.gov exchange.

Obamacare Faces Its Own Death Panel Before Supreme Court… And It's Losing (Gateway Pundit)
Obamacare Faces Its Own Death Panel Before Supreme Court… And It’s Losing (Gateway Pundit)

The plaintiffs argue that four words in the tax section of the law, “established by the state,” indicate that Congress intended for subsidies to be received only by enrollees on state exchanges, and that the law should be read as it is written.

The defendants argue that the law should be read in its entirety, in which case it is clear that subsidies are offered on all exchanges, and that was the authors’ intent all along. (Read more here at the National Journal.)

Obama and the left are already blaming the Republicans if the court rules against them and they do not have a back-up plan, nor do we think they want one so they can once again inflict heavy damage to families as they did when it was implemented.

The thought is that the blame will rest squarely on Congress and the “stupid American voter” will once again be relied upon to believe them.

Days before the Supreme Court could strip it of a central component, there is still no “plan B” for Obamacare. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell warned the Obama administration will be unable to cover the millions of Americans who could lose their medical insurance if the Supreme Court decides to unravel much of the Affordable Care Act.

“We don’t believe there is an administration solution that would undo all of that damage,” Burwell said about the looming Supreme Court ruling in an exclusive interview with CNN. (Read more here.)

But we must remind people – the law was shoved down our throats as Democrats alone voted it into law and signed by Obama. Now we are finding out that it is much worse than we knew – it appears our friend; Jonathan Gruber, he of the “stupid” statements and “smug filled rooms” was much more integral in the design of ObamaCare from the beginning.

Please remind all you speak with of this fact as the left blames the right for people losing their subsidies and not being able to afford what was supposed to be less expensive – remember the full name of the law; the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – PPACA.

Controversial MIT economist Jonathan Gruber reportedly played key role in ObamaCare law

By xxx – Fox News

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who claimed the authors of ObamaCare took advantage of what he called the “stupidity of the American voter,” played a much bigger role in the law’s drafting than previously acknowledged, according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal, citing 20,000 pages of emails sent by Gruber between January 2009 and March 2010, reported Sunday that Gruber was frequently consulted by staffers and advisers for both the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) about the Affordable Care Act.Gruber Gate

Among the topics that Gruber discusses in the emails are media interviews, consultations with lawmakers, and even how to publicly describe his role.

The emails were released as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the legality of federal health insurance exchange subsidies.

The Journal reports that the officials Gruber contacted by e-mail included Peter Orszag, then the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB); Jason Furman, an economic adviser to the president; and Ezekiel Emanuel, then a special adviser for health policy at OMB.

“His proximity to HHS and the White House was a whole lot tighter than they admitted,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R- Utah, chairman of the House oversight committee, told the Journal. “There’s no doubt he was a much more integral part of this than they’ve said. He put up this facade he was an arm’s length away. It was a farce.”

States to be affected by the King v. Burwell case (Courtesy of KFF.org)
States to be affected by the King v. Burwell case (Courtesy of KFF.org)

“As has been previously reported, Mr. Gruber was a widely used economic modeler for administrations and state governments run by both parties—both before and after the Affordable Care Act was passed,” HHS spokeswoman Meaghan Smith told the Journal in a statement. “These emails only echo old news.”

Gruber became the center of a political storm in November 2014, when a video surfaced of him taking part in a 2013 panel discussion about ObamaCare. At one point, Gruber said the Obama administration wrote the bill “in a tortured way to make sure [the Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes.

pol_obamacare32__01__630x420If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies … Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

At the time of the controversy, President Obama referred to Gruber as “some adviser who never worked on our staff.” However, the Journal reports that Gruber’s emails appear to reference at least one meeting with Obama.

Furthermore, one email from Jeanne Lambrew, a top Obama health adviser, thanks Gruber for “being an integral part of getting us to this historic moment”, while another message from Lambrew refers to Gruber as “our hero.”

Fox News previously reported that HHS retained Gruber in March 2009 on a $95,000 contract to produce “a series of technical memoranda on the estimated changes in health insurance coverage and associated costs and impacts to the government under alternative specifications of health system reform.” A second contract with HHS three months later saw Gruber receive an additional $297,600.

Gruber later apologized for his comments in a December 2014 hearing before the House Oversight Committee, calling the remarks “mean and insulting.”

ObamaCare – More Bad News, Premiums to Skyrocket

Editor’s Note – Does anyone consider ObamaCare, or the PPACA an actual law anymore? It changes constantly, delays galore, lies about everything, and what ever happened to saving families $2,500 per year? Now we see that lie is worse than anticipated as well. Where will this all end?

O-Care premiums to skyrocket

By Elise Viebeck – The Hill

The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The sticker shock would likely bolster the GOP’s prospects in November and hamper ObamaCare insurance enrollment efforts in 2015.SkyRocketObamaCare

The industry complaints come less than a week after Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sought to downplay concerns about rising premiums in the healthcare sector. She told lawmakers rates would increase in 2015 but grow more slowly than in the past.

“The increases are far less significant than what they were prior to the Affordable Care Act,” the secretary said in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Her comment baffled insurance officials, who said it runs counter to the industry’s consensus about next year.

“It’s pretty shortsighted because I think everybody knows that the way the exchange has rolled out … is going to lead to higher costs,” said one senior insurance executive who requested anonymity.

The insurance official, who hails from a populous swing state, said his company expects to triple its rates next year on the ObamaCare exchange.

The hikes are expected to vary substantially by region, state and carrier.

Areas of the country with older, sicker or smaller populations are likely to be hit hardest, while others might not see substantial increases at all.

Several major companies have been bullish on the healthcare law as a growth opportunity. With investors, especially, the firms downplay the consequences of more older, sicker enrollees in the risk pool.

Much will depend on how firms are coping with the healthcare law’s raft of new fees and regulatory restrictions, according to another industry official.

Some insurers initially underpriced their policies to begin with, expecting to raise rates in the second year.

Others, especially in larger states, will continue to hold rates low in order to remain competitive.

After this story was published, the administration pointed to some independent analyses that have cast doubt on whether the current mix of enrollees will lead to premium hikes.

ObamaCare also includes several programs designed to ease the transition and stave off premium increases. Reinsurance, for example, will send payments to insurers to help shoulder the cost of covering sick patients.

But insurance officials are quick to emphasize that any spikes would be a consequence of delays and changes in ObamaCare’s rollout.

They point out that the administration, after a massive public outcry, eased their policies to allow people to keep their old health plans. That kept some healthy people in place, instead of making them jump into the new exchanges.

Federal health officials have also limited the amount of money the government can spend to help insurers cover the cost of new, sick patients.

Perhaps most important, insurers have been disappointed that young people only make up about one-quarter of the enrollees in plans through the insurance exchanges, according to public figures that were released earlier this year. That ratio might change in the weeks ahead because the administration anticipates many more people in their 20s and 30s will sign up close to the March 31 enrollment deadline. Many insurers, however, don’t share that optimism.

These factors will have the unintended consequence of raising rates, sources said.

“We’re exasperated,” said the senior insurance official. “All of these major delays on very significant portions of the law are going to change what it’s going to cost.”

“My gut tells me that, for some people, these increases will be significant,” said Bill Hoagland, a former executive at Cigna and current senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Hoagland said Sebelius was seeking to “soften up the American public” to the likelihood that premiums will rise, despite promises to the contrary.

Republicans frequently highlight President Obama’s promise on the campaign trail to enact a healthcare law that would “cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.”

“They’re going to have to backpedal on that,” said Hoagland, who called Sebelius’s comment a “pre-emptive strike.”

“This was her way of getting out in front of it,” he added.

HHS didn’t comment for this article.

Insurers will begin the process this spring by filing their rate proposals with state officials.

Insurance commissioners will then release the rates sometime this summer, usually when they’re approved. Insurers could also leak their rates earlier as a political statement.

In some states, commissioners have the authority to deny certain rate increases, which could help prevent the most drastic hikes.

Either way, there will be a slew of bad headlines for the Obama administration just months before the election.

“It’s pretty bad timing,” said one insurance official.

Other health experts say predictions about premiums are premature.

David Cutler, who has been called an architect of Obama-Care, said, “Health premiums increase every year, so the odds are very good that they will increase next year as well.  None of that is news.  The question is whether it will be a lot or a little.  That depends in part on how big the insurers think the exchanges will be.”

Jon Gruber, who also helped design the Affordable Care Act, said, “The bottom line is that we just don’t know. Premiums were rising 7 to 10 percent a year before the law. So the question is whether we will see a continuation of that sort of single digit increase, as Sebelius said, or whether it will be larger.”

The White House and its allies have launched a full-court press to encourage healthy millennials to purchase coverage on the marketplaces.

HHS announced this week that sign-ups have exceeded 5 million, a marked increase since March 1.

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday claimed the administration has picked up the pace considerably, saying months ago reporters would have laughed if he “had said there would be 5 million enrollees by March 18.”

It remains unclear how many of those enrollees lost their insurance last year because of the law’s mandates. Critics have also raised questions about how the administration is counting people who signed up for insurance plans.

Political operatives will be watching premium increases this summer, most notably in states where there are contested Senate races.

In Iowa, which hosts the first presidential caucus in the nation and has a competitive Senate race this year, rates are expected to rise 100 percent on the exchange and by double digits on the larger, employer-based market, according to a recent article in the Business Record.

Sheila Timmons contributed.

Obama delays ACA, is it legal, an end run around Congress and failure?

Editor’s Note – Unilaterally delaying PPACA implementation – is it legal? Can the President unilaterally change the implementation of a law passed by Congress?

That is the question, and though it means that ObamaCare was what we all knew, in deep, deep trouble, it’s puzzling at the same time and once again borders on the usurpation of power from a co-equal branch of government. He punted the Employer Mandate to 2015 unilaterally.

It is becoming clear, even to its backers, this law was a failure from day one. It was forced down our throats and now Obama wants to allow large businesses to delay one year in its mandatory aspects. Does this help or hinder employment questions? Does this mean individuals must still join starting in October while others get a reprieve?ObamaCareThumb

Either way, the storm is brewing and its a mess to say the least. It is also highly unfair and in the opinion of SUA, illegal and unconstitutional. Is this what Max Baucus meant when he said it was a train wreck? We think it is more than a train wreck, it is truly un-American and the worst train wreck in history.

‘Rule-of-law’ be damned – Obama will do whatever he wishes, but will Congress allow it? If there was ever a need and time to defund it all, it is now! What will Republicans do with this engraved invitation? It truly is a ‘shovel ready’ project – destined for the burial it deserves. Can we start digging now?

House to Investigate Decision to Delay Obamacare Employer Mandate

By Daniel Halper – Weekly Standard

The House of Representatives will investigate the Obama administration’s sudden decision to delay the employer mandate in Obamacare, leaders in the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced today.

“House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today wrote to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, requesting documents and information regarding the administration’s decision to delay full implementation of the health care law’s employer mandate for one year. The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), has held a series of hearings on the president’s health care law and will examine the administration’s delay of the employer mandate in the coming weeks,” reads a press release from the committee.

“Just as the law was crafted out of sight from the American people, the administration is again taking care of some interests behind closed doors while struggling Americans are left to pay for the looming rate shock and grapple with the law’s complex mandates. Despite delays and missed deadlines, administration officials had repeatedly testified before Congress that they were still on schedule to implement the law. Yesterday, they admitted that wasn’t the case, and it’s clear we have no idea the full scope of delays and disarray that may be coming. The American public deserves answers,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).

PPACAIn the letters to the administration, the committee leaders write, “This decision was made after ‘[the administration] heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively.’ In the three years since the passage of the PPACA, we have heard similar complaints not only from business owners, but from state leaders, government watchdogs, and individual citizens as well.

As the Treasury Department statement makes clear, the administration has been ‘engaging in a dialogue with businesses’ and is pursuing changes in the law’s implementation and requirements based on their feedback. We note that these communications and the decision-making process related to the delay of certain aspects of the law have not been disclosed publicly. The acknowledgement that a delay in the law’s implementation is needed is completely at odds with previous statements made by administration officials.”

The administration’s abrupt decision has raised significant concerns about the full implementation of the law, what components may be delayed next, which parties are being consulted as part of the implementation process, and what the decision-making process is for these major changes to the legislation.The committee leaders are seeking documents and information “to better understand the process being used by this administration to determining which provisions of the law to implement, on what time-table, and the feedback upon which such decisions are being made.”

They have requested information regarding the individuals, companies, and organizations the administration was consulting with regarding the employer mandate and other provisions that may be delayed or modified. The leaders set a July 17, 2013, deadline for the administration to comply.