Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category
Despite Poligraph’s opinion about a recent DCCC attack against Stewart Mills, the DCCC’s attack is mostly BS. Here’s what the DCCC press release said:
“Millionaire Stewart Mills III has taken thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the health insurance industry, and now he wants to put the insurance companies back in charge to deny care to people with-pre-existing conditions and kick kids off their parents’ plans,” a DCCC press release states.
PoliGraph admitted that the DCCC’s first claim is BS:
According to Mills’ campaign finance records, he’s gotten $1,000 from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association PAC, and that’s it.
Apparently, the DCCC needs to return to grade school English. Apparently, they didn’t learn that thousands is plural for 1,000. Apparently, the DCCC didn’t learn that 1,000 is singular for thousands. Either that or they’re just lying through their teeth, which is a distinct possibility.
Here’s the part where PoliGraph is wrong:
The DCCC also claims that Mills wants to scrap popular parts of the Affordable Care Act, including a provision that prevents insurance companies from rejecting patients with pre-existing conditions and another provision that allows children to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.
Here, the DCCC is on stronger footing.
First, saying that the DCCC “is on stronger footing” isn’t saying much considering the fact that they were totally wrong about the DCCC’s first statement. Further, the DCCC’s claim is false. Here’s why:
Campaign spokeswoman Chloe Rockow says Mills isn’t opposed to making sure young adults and those with pre-existing conditions have access to health insurance; he just thinks there are better ways of doing it.
For instance, Mills wants to strengthen privacy rules for people with pre-existing conditions and to reinstate the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association, which is a special health insurance program for people with pre-existing conditions who can’t get insurance elsewhere.
In other words, Stewart Mills wants people with pre-existing conditions to get insurance. He just prefers a different method of getting people with PECs that coverage.
The DCCC said that Mills wants “to deny care to people with-pre-existing conditions.” That’s verifiably false. Period.
The title to PoliGraph’s article is “DCCC Mills claim half wrong, half right”. The article’s accurate title should be “DCCC Mills claim almost entirely wrong.” Mills didn’t take thousands of dollars from health insurance companies and he doesn’t want to deny health insurance to people with pre-existing conditions.
Sunday morning, Ember Reichgott-Junge repeated the chanting point she recited Friday night. On @ Issue With Tom Hauser, Ms. Reichgott-Junge characterized Minnesota’s economy as strong, which it clearly isn’t.
An economy that just saw 4,200 jobs disappear in July isn’t strong. An economy where revenues came in 6.6% short of the state’s projection isn’t strong. An economy where the unemployment rate for an entire region of the state is 64.3% higher than the statewide average isn’t a strong economy.
This confirms the DFL’s metrocentric focus. It also confirms the fact that the DFL’s policies are designed to promote metro growth, not outstate growth. Twin Cities businesses don’t worry about regulations. Rural businesses, however, worry about regulations every day. Regulations are what’s suppressing the Iron Range economy.
Ms. Reichgott-Junge hasn’t factored those things into her calculations. The Twin Cities’ unemployment rate is 4,92%. It isn’t surprising that she either didn’t know or didn’t care that Grand Rapids’ unemployment rate for January was 11.6%, that February’s unemployment rate was 11.9% and that March’s unemployment rate was 11.2%. That’s more than twice as high as the statewide average.
I triple dog dare a DFL politician to explain how that type of chronic unemployment is proof of a vibrant, expanding economy. For the last 3+ years, the unemployment rate has been next-to-worthless as a benchmark of economic vitality. That’s because millions of people (literally) nationwide have quit looking for work, thereby artificially lowering the nation’s unemployment rate.
Another reason why the unemployment rate has become unreliable in terms of how strong the economy is is the number of people who’ve had their hours cut thanks to Obamacare. These are known as 29ers.
Minnesota hasn’t been immune from these trends. There are lots of people who’ve quit looking for work. The workforce participation rate is on the verge of dropping below 70% for the first time since October, 1980. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, aka DEED, the percentage of people who are underemployed is almost 50%.
When people quit looking for work, that’s proof the economy isn’t vibrant. If they’re working a part-time job in the hospitality industry after being a manager in a manufacturing company, that’s proof that the economy isn’t producing the high-paying jobs Minnesotans need to pay their bills.
Gov. Dayton and the DFL chanting puppets will undoubtedly keep chanting that Minnesota’s economy is strong. That’s their choice. It just isn’t the truth.
The workforce participation rate is proof of a stagnant economy. The fact that Minnesota’s economy has created only 2,900 jobs in 2014 is proof of a stagnant (or worse) economy. The fact that a major part of the state (the Iron Range) is suffering through a higher-than-normal unemployment rate (8.02%) is proof that the policies passed by the DFL legislature and implemented by Gov. Dayton aren’t working.
The revenues that Gov. Dayton and the DFL need to come in to balance the budget aren’t coming in. In July, revenues fell $69,000,000 short of projections. Thus far this year, revenues have fallen short of projection in 5 of the 6 months we have statistics for. The Dayton-DFL economy is heading towards the Dayton-DFL deficit.
Gov. Dayton and the DFL are satisfied with an economy where unemployment rates are artificially low and stagnant wages and part-time jobs are real.
Technorati: Mark Dayton, Unemployment Rate, Workforce Participation Rate, Part-Time Jobs, Iron Range, Chronic Unemployment, Budget Deficit, Chanting Puppets, Ember Reichgott-Junge, ABM, DFL, Election 2014
Based on his article, I’d say that Josh Kraushaar got a glimpse at the real Al Franken:
ST. PAUL, Minn.—I flew to Minnesota with high hopes of talking with Sen. Al Franken, and his staff said I’d get my chance during a “media availability” following a speech on the 50th anniversary of the Job Corps. But when I arrived at the Hubert H. Humphrey Job Corps Center, I discovered I was the only reporter there, and Franken’s deputy communications director—one of three of his staffers working the event—said that the senator was in a rush. Could I walk and talk on the way out?
So as we walked through the gymnasium outside toward the campus’s small parking lot, I asked Franken a perfunctory question about his work with job-training programs, and a minute later, as we approached his car, how he rated President Obama’s handling of the economy. “I can’t do that briefly, we have to run,” Franken said.
Then he got in his car and left.
Welcome to Minnesota’s junior senator, Josh. Now multiply that by 6 and you’ll know what it’s like to be an average Minnesotan. If you aren’t at a DFL convention or a carefully picked union hall, you won’t find Sen. Franken. He’s Minnesota’s version of the Invisible Man.
When I asked about the political mood in Minnesota, Franken said, “I’m not sure if people are completely pinpoint exactly why [they're upset at Washington], and that’s going to be part of the campaign. We can do better. Even though we have a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the country, people are still feeling squeezed in the middle class, and so many of the new jobs aren’t high-paying jobs.” Franken said he had some “disagreements” with President Obama over how to best approach the economy, but he praised the president’s stimulus and proposed 2011 jobs package. And he emphasized he was focused on “middle-class jobs” and infrastructure spending, while also supporting unnamed “smart cuts.”
What’s interesting is Sen. Franken’s statement that he’s “had some ‘disagreements’ with President Obama. Let’s scrutinize that against this:
But unlike other Democratic senators in swing states, Franken hasn’t done anything, even symbolically, to distance himself from the unpopular president. A National Journal vote analysis conducted this month showed that, in the past two years, Franken has cast only two votes against party leadership out of 161—a 99 percent record that beats Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
It takes some doing to out-progressive Elizabeth Warren but Franken’s done that. He’s crazier than she is. Wow.
What’s apparent is that Franken doesn’t want to talk about his voting for the ACA, which is a disaster both in Minnesota and nationally. The Affordable Care Act wouldn’t have gotten to a final vote if Sen. Franken had the cajones to say that the ACA would make Minnesota’s health care worse and more expensive.
Sen. Franken won’t grant extensive interviews with real journalists like Josh Kraushaar. That’s because he isn’t too bright on the issues. Just watch Franken question Sonia Sotomayor at her confirmation hearing:
What’s frightening is that that’s the DFL’s definition of a serious senator. With performances like that, it isn’t surprising that DFL operatives are keeping Franken under wraps as much as possible. The last thing Franken’s consultants can afford is for the ‘real Franken’ to reappear.
Mike McFadden is right about this:
His toughest jibe against Franken? “Al Franken had a background in entertainment. I don’t think that’s a background that’s allowed him to be effective,” McFadden said. “I think he has no idea how the economy works. He’s voted part and parcel with the president, and has overseen the slowest rebound from a recession in the history of the United States.”
Al Franken’s history is simple. First, he was a mediocre comedian. Next, he was a mean-spirited talk radio host. Then he graduated to being Harry Reid’s puppet. There’s nothing in that history that says he understands that the Affordable Care Act has created 49ers and 29ers. There’s nothing in Franken’s history that says he’s got a clue how much the EPA’s regulations have crippled job creation.
In short, it’s pretty understandable that he’s being kept under wraps. If Franken were asked by a competent journalist about his economic philosophy, he’d quickly be reduced to platitudes and cliches. He’d quickly be exposed as the empty suit that he is.
When it was first launched, Democrats praised MNsure, Gov. Dayton’s health insurance exchange. If Democrats are smart, which is still open to debate, Democrats should run from the issue. A pair of stories, this story from CBS and this story from KSTP, show that MNsure is a disaster:
More than 3,700 people in Minnesota are waiting for changes to be made to their health insurance. They purchased private health insurance through the state health exchange known as MNsure. The enrollment period for health insurance ended in April, but people can change or add to their plans if they qualify for “Life Events.”
As disgusting as that is, this is worse:
MNsure officials tell us about 350 people are waiting to add a person to their coverage. They say most of the cases involve things like an address change.
With MNsure closing approximately 100 cases per day, MNsure should get caught up with that backlog by October, which is just in time for the premium increases. On a serious note, though, MNsure has taken months to do what it took agents to do in minutes. Changing a person’s address shouldn’t take months. Adding a newborn baby to a policy shouldn’t take months.
Minnesotans spent $160,000,000 on a website that can’t even make routine changes. This represents a major step back in health insurance. This isn’t just working out a few flaws. MNsure has been riddled with difficulties since its launch. The biggest thing is that most of MNsure’s difficulties are inexcusable.
The things that they’re talking about in these stories should be routine. They should be routine because they were routine prior to the ACA.
Gov. Dayton insisted that Minnesota establish a health insurance exchange. Now that it’s a disaster, Gov. Dayton and the DFL should be judged on MNsure’s pathetic performance.
Minnesota’s economy just took a major hit when it lost 4,200 jobs in July. With MNsure now qualifying as a disaster, too, the biggest items on Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s agendas should be considered failures.
That’s why Gov. Dayton’s competence should be questioned. At this point, the verifiable facts say that he’s a failure.
This year is the first time in seemingly forever that I’ll be voting in a GOP primary. That’s why this i the first time I’ve written a post announcing who I’m voting for in the primary.
The biggest reason why I’m voting for Mike McFadden is because he’s an unapologetic capitalist. While Al Franken was a mediocre comedian, a mean-spirited talk show host and a rubberstamp US senator, Mike McFadden was creating jobs. Mike knows the importance of regulation reform and tax reform.
Mike’s also been steadfast in calling for starting over on health care reform, this time implementing a patient-centric system rather to replace the government-centric plan that’s an outright failure. Mike wants a system that gives the federal government the authority to tell people the coverages their health insurance policies must have.
That’s because Mike knows that families, working in consultation with their physicians, know what’s best for them. Mike understands that distant bureaucrats can’t possibly know what’s bet for your family or your co-workers’ families.
Mike’s worked with enough small businesses to know that compliance costs, whether they’re tax or regulation compliance costs, hurt small businesses more than they hurt big corporations. The vast majority of manufacturing companies started as small businesses. Regulatory reform is essential to growing the economy.
While Mike McFadden has advocated for regulatory reform, his opponent this November has voted for the biggest federal regulatory overreach in 50 years.
Finally, I’d like to take time to say a little something about Jim Abeler. Most bloggers know him as part of the Override 6, a small group of GOP legislators who voted to override Gov. Pawlenty’s veto of a massive transportation tax bill. While it’s fair to remember that about Jim, it isn’t the only thing we should remember about Jim.
Jim worked with Steve Gottwalt to produce real health care reform before the Affordable Care Act wiped out their reforms. We’d be far better off if their reforms hadn’t been toppled by the ACA’s top-down, government-centric plan.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet Jim a couple of times. He’s a man of faith who’s had to endure what no parent should be forced to deal with — the tragic death of a child. Through that tragic event, Jim leaned on his faith, which helped his family persevere.
Jim, I personally wish you nothing but the best. I hope God blesses you in the days ahead.
When Congress passed the bill reforming the VA hospital system, it became the first bipartisan reform bill passed during the Obama administration.
The Senate gave final approval Thursday to sweeping legislation aimed at fixing the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs, marking a rare moment of bipartisan accord triggered by the widespread treatment delays veterans faced at agency facilities.
The legislation passed 91-3 a day after the House overwhelmingly approved the package. It now goes to President Obama’s desk.
The $17 billion measure is intended help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat them, and make it easier to fire senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department.
As with any bipartisan bill, this isn’t a great bill. It definitely is flawed. With that being said, Republicans got Democrats to include the Republicans’ top priorities in the bill.
First, the bill includes a provision that lets vets opt out of the VA system. Those opting out will get a voucher giving them the right to go to a private clinic or hospital. This provision isn’t available to all vets, though it’s available to a significant number of vets.
It’s also a great first step towards demolishing the corrupt VA hospital system.
The other major concession Republicans won was a provision that gives the VA secretary the right to fire employees who aren’t doing their jobs. Again, this is a major concession from Democrats, mostly because this gives Republicans the impetus to pass legislation that gives all cabinet secretaries this right.
Democrats will find it difficult to argue that only the VA secretary should have that authority, especially considering how popular this provision is with taxpayers. They’re tired of hearing about people like Lois Lerner committing crimes, then getting put on paid administrative leave while the department conducts their investigation. Taxpayers want heads to roll.
It’s pretty pathetic that the first truly bipartisan reform bill didn’t pass until the sixth year of this Democratic administration. It’s quite the indictment against President Obama’s administration and Harry Reid’s my-way-or-the-highway leadership. It’s the best proof that Washington, DC needs a Republican majority in the US Senate. Without a GOP majority, there won’t be another bipartisan bill passed during this administration.
When the Halbig v. Burwell ruling came out last week, lefties like the New Republic reached out to Jonathan Gruber after their initial spin failed. Their initial spin consisted of this being a drafting error which should be excused by the courts.
When conservative bloggers found a video of Jonathan Gruber saying that health insurance subsidies were only available to people buying health insurance through state-established exchanges, TNR called Gruber. Dr. Gruber immediately backtracked by saying what he said was “a speak-o”. Michael Cannon’s op-ed blows that spin out of the water:
The administration’s defenders responded to the Halbig case by insisting that Congress never intended to withhold subsidies from residents of states that did not establish exchanges. Like the Obama administration, Gruber told the D.C. Circuit that this idea is “implausible.” The D.C. Circuit disagreed when it ruled for the plaintiffs last Tuesday.
Gruber then became part of the story on Thursday when a video surfaced in which he espouses the very interpretation of the law he now publicly derides as “screwy,” “nutty” and “stupid.” In 2012, Gruber told an audience: “If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.”
Frankly, this appears to be proof that Dr. Gruber is willing to say anything to save his greatest legislative achievement. There’s no question what the legislative language says, which is the only thing the courts can go by.
As damning as that is, this is the part of Cannon’s op-ed that sinks Dr. Gruber:
The problem with his explanations is that Jonathan Gruber doesn’t “flake.” He knows this law in and out. He knew what his words meant, with all their implications, when he spoke them. He knew the feature he was describing essentially gave each state a veto over the PPACA’s exchange subsidies, employer mandate and to a large extent its individual mandate. He knew that could lead to adverse selection. To claim Gruber didn’t know what he was saying is as absurd as saying a conductor might fail to notice that the brass section suddenly stopped playing.
It’s rich that the guy who boasts that he knows “more about this law than any other economist” suddenly left to dissembling when he’s caught spinning.
Richard Epstein’s explanation of the ruling is compelling and succinct:
Do the words an “exchange established by a State” cover an exchange that is established by the federal government “on behalf of a state”? To the unpracticed eye, the two propositions are not synonyms, but opposites. When I do something on behalf of myself, it is quite a different thing from someone else doing it on my behalf. The first case involves self-control. The second involves a change of actors. It is not, moreover, that the federal government establishes the exchange on behalf of a state that has authorized the action, under which case normal principles of agency law would apply. Quite the opposite: the federal government decides to act because the state has refused to put the program into place. It is hard to see, as a textual matter, why the two situations should be regarded as identical when the political forces at work in them are so different. Under the so-called “plain meaning approach”, there is no need to look further. The text does not authorize the subsidies for these transactions, so it is up to Congress to fix the mess that it created in 2010.
The only context needed is the text itself. It’s clear that language agreed upon means that the only people who are eligible for subsidies are people who bought them through state-established exchanges. There’s no question that the federal government used this carrot-and-stick approach to coax states into creating exchanges. There’s also no question that the federal government couldn’t force states to create these exchange.
That’s considered commandeering by the federal government, which isn’t allowed in our federalist system of governance.
This is enlightening information, too:
Last year, seven career Treasury and IRS officials told congressional investigators that they knew the PPACA did not authorize them to issue tax credits in federal exchanges, and that their regulations had originally confined tax credits to exchanges “established by the State.” At the direction of their political-appointee superiors, however, they dropped that language and announced that tax credits would be available through exchanges established by the federal government as well.
Isn’t it interesting that the rules didn’t change until after President Obama’s political appointees ordered the rule changes? That clearly shows the IRS regulation changing the clear intent of the ACA was an act of political mischief.
When superPACs and other special interest organizations make a major ad buy in a formerly safe congressional district, it’s usually proof that the incumbent is in trouble. When that major ad buy happens months before the election, it’s a guarantee that he’s in trouble. That’s why this ad is proof, at minimum, that Rick Nolan, Nancy Pelosi and AFSCME are worried about Stewart Mills flipping this seat this November:
What’s interesting, and predictable, is that Nolan’s special interest allies are lying through their teeth about Mills supporting “tax breaks for the rich.” Let’s look at Mill’s issues page for the truth:
The Eighth District is a Main Street economy and job growth here comes from the ground up. That means we need tax reform that’s geared toward small business growth. Stewart doesn’t believe that Washington creates jobs- entrepreneurs and business owners create jobs.
When Republicans talk about tax reform, they’re talking mostly about tax simplification. That’s because tax compliance hurts small businesses far more than it hurts big corporations. Big corporations have tons of lobbyists to get favorable tax breaks and tons of accountants that stay on top of the ever-changing tax code.
Meanwhile, an entrepreneur might be the chief salesman of the product, the guy who does payroll and fills in when someone’s missing. He’s also the guy who has to stay on top of the onslaught of regulations and changes in the tax code. In short, tax compliance hurts small businesses far more than it hurts big corporations.
In other words, the AFSCME/House Majority PAC ad is BS.
Another important part of the AFSCME/House Majority PAC ad says that Stewart Mills opposes the minimum wage. I’ve paid a ton of attention to the Mills campaign. I’ve yet to hear him talk about the minimum wage. His stump speech is mostly about a) starting over and getting health care reform right, b) making PolyMet and job creation in Minnesota’s Eighth District a reality and c) standing up for the Second Amendment.
There’s nothing in there that’s about “tax cuts for the rich” or the minimum wage. Those mining jobs are anything but about the minimum wage. Those future miners certainly aren’t “the rich.” That’s who Stewart Mills will fight for if he’s elected, mostly because it’s the right thing to do.
After the DFL convention, Rick Nolan railed that Stewart Mills was the personification of the one-percent:
Nolan started off the campaign with a shot the Republican contender Stewart Mills. “He is, no mistake about it, a one percenter who is there to represent the 1 percent not the 99 percent,” Nolan said.
I said then what I’ll repeat now: Mills Fleet Farm is one of the most blue collar retail chains in the nation. They have lots of auto parts, lawn care products, sporting goods and a smattering of clothing, ranging from blue jeans to flannel shirts. What they don’t have are products that might be found in Macy’s or Nieman Marcus.
According to University of Wisconsin Superior Political Science Professor Alison Von Hagel, “I guess one could say it could be seen as putting words in his (Mills) mouth.” That’s understatement.
I’d argue that it’s filled with assumptions based mostly on ideology, not fact. In that sense, it’s what I expect from far left liberals like the DFL and Nancy Pelosi. Their relationship with the truth is minimal at best.
Stewart Mills is a salt-of-the-earth type of guy. He’s totally comfortable hanging out at the Mills family hunting shack. That isn’t to say he’s uncomfortable running the Mills Fleet Farm benefits program. He knows that pretty well, too, which is why he wants to start over on health care reform so that it’s affordable for everyone.
Right now, thanks to the ACA, it isn’t affordable for many.
That, of course, isn’t part of the AFSCME/House Majority PAC ad. That truth doesn’t fit with the Democrats’ storyline. If it doesn’t fit with the Democrats’ smear campaign, it’s ignored.
High-ranking people in DC thinks Nolan’s in trouble. That’s why he was put on the DCCC’s equivalent of the ‘Endangered Incumbents List.’ That’s why the House Majority PAC and AFSCME paid for this ad this early. If they thought Nolan wasn’t in trouble, they would’ve saved their money until the stretch run.
It’s difficult to call Rolf Westgard’s submission to MinnPost a true LTE. Read this stuff, then ask yourself if you’ve heard it somewhere else before:
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) program is working in Minnesota and across the country. A June release of MNsure facts shows that more than 95 percent of Minnesotans are now insured. From September 2013 to May 2014, “The number of uninsured Minnesotans fell by 180,500, a reduction of 40.6 percent. To date, 236,745 Minnesotans have enrolled in quality, affordable coverage through MNsure. 136,303 enrolled in Medical Assistance, 48,942 in MinnesotaCare and 51,500 in a Qualified Health Plan.”
In April, President Obama announced that more than 7 million Americans had signed up for health insurance. The Affordable Care Act should continue to improve as more uninsured people who have been hesitant will enroll.
The statistics are accurate so that’s beyond dispute. What they don’t tell you is important, though. What they don’t tell you is that a) 93% of Minnesotans were insured before the ACA was enacted and b) 50% of those who weren’t insured were eligible for a taxpayer-subsidized health insurance policy.
Another thing that Dr. Westgard isn’t telling you is that Minnesota spent $160,000,000 to build MNsure, the website that didn’t work last year and won’t work this year. A third thing Dr. Westgard didn’t tell you is that 16,000 people who applied for MinnesotaCare through MNsure still haven’t been accepted because the Minnesota Department of Human Services didn’t send out the letters telling them that DHS needed additional information.
The unfortunate thing for Minnesotans is that that list is only a partial list of MNsure failures. I certainly could add this fact to the mix:
The Minnesota Department of Human Services sent 3,000 letters to homes of MinnesotaCare recipients who may have received incorrect monthly billing statements after they applied for health coverage through MNsure, the state’s new health care exchange. The letter tells those recipients the bills may have been wrong for several months, but they encouraged those clients to keep paying the bills anyway.
I could also include this information:
The recent revelation that the state failed to send out letters to 16,000 low-income Minnesotans seeking medical assistance to let them know their applications had not been processed and they were not covered does not surprise Olmsted County Community Services Director Paul Fleissner.
“Every county has been screaming that we didn’t think notices were going out, and the state kept saying yes, yes, yes, people are just forgetting this. We had a really strong sense that they weren’t and finally it’s been confirmed that they weren’t going to our people,” Fleissner said.
Dr. Westgard isn’t stupid. I’ve read his op-eds on energy and found them to be quite informative. Rather, I think Dr. Westgard a) just believes in the ACA and b) was willing to use the DFL’s talking points in writing his LTE.
It’s a shame he didn’t dig into the subject more. It would’ve made for a more authoritative LTE.
Lefties went apoplectic this week after the DC Circuit issued its ruling in the Halbig v. Burwell lawsuit. Their initial spin was that it was “a drafting error.” Sean Davis’ article laid out the foolishness of their spin. While Davis’ article buried the administration’s spin with irrefutable facts, something that Jonathan Gruber said might hurt them in a court of law even more. Here’s what Gruber said that’s so damning:
What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges.
Gruber isn’t an outsider:
Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who helped design the Massachusetts health law that was the model for Obamacare, was a key influence on the creation of the federal health law. He was widely quoted in the media. During the crafting of the law, the Obama administration brought him on for consultation because of his expertise. He was paid almost $400,000 to consult with the administration on the law. And he has claimed to have written part of the legislation, the section dealing with small business tax credits.
In other words, Gruber admitted, after working on the ACA, that the subsidies were made available for people who bought their insurance through state-established exchanges to put political pressure on reluctant governors and legislators to establish state-run exchanges.
That’s supported by the legislative language of the ACA:
The statutory authority for state-based exchanges comes in section 1311 of Obamacare. The statutory authority for a federal exchange in the event that a state chose not to establish one comes from section 1321(c) of Obamacare. Right off the bat, we have two discrete sections pertaining to two discrete types of health exchange. Was that a “drafting error”?
Then we have the specific construction of section 1321(c), which allows for the creation of a federal exchange. Nowhere does this section say that an exchange created under its authority will have the same treatment as a state-based exchange created under section 1311. At no point does it say that section 1321 plans are equivalent. Why, it’s almost as though the exchanges and the plans offered by them were not intended to receive the same treatment. Was that another “drafting error”?
Most important, we have the sections of the law providing for tax credits to help offset the cost of Obamacare’s health care plans: sections 1401, 1402, 1411, 1412, 1413, 1414, and 1415. And how do those sections establish authority to provide those tax credits? Why, they specifically state ten separate times that tax credits are available to offset the costs of state health exchange plans authorized by section 1311. And how many times are section 1321 federal exchange plans mentioned? Zero.
I’ll repeat myself. Gruber’s quote matches up with the legislative language of the ACA. The good news is that there’s a legislative fix for this problem. Congress can pass legislation that makes the subsidies available to anyone making less than 400% of the federal poverty level, aka FPL.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that House Republicans won’t include things like repealing the medical device manufacturers tax and the individual and employer mandates.
Therein lies the Democrats’ real problem. They’ve gotten their way on every single item in the bill thus far. They aren’t interested in compromising with Republicans on a single provision in the ACA. That’s tough. It’s time for them to stop acting like spoiled brats. It’s time for Democrats to implement some of the Republicans’ good ideas.