Betrayed Again! Four Takeaways From the Supreme Court’s King v Burwell Decision

Betrayed Again! Four Takeaways From the Supreme Court’s King v Burwell Decision

Betrayed again! And by an even larger number than the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision in June 2012. There are several conclusions we can draw from this decision, and like most dark clouds it has a few silver linings. It’s time to quite referring to Chief Justice Roberts as a conservative. I can’t tell you how many times I hear commentators refer to Chief Justice John Roberts as one of the conservative members of the Court. This decision should put an end to that mischaracterization. He has gone out of his way, twice, to save an unconstitutional law that never should have passed in the first place. King would have been a perfect opportunity to address President Obama’s penchant for ignoring the rule of law, which real conservatives have complained about for the past six years. And yet Roberts et al said it is perfectly all right to ignore what a law says. This decision empowers Obama to continue doing whatever the heck he wants. You expect that kind of action from the Court’s liberals, but not conservatives—which is, again, why Roberts shouldn’t be grouped with them. This is the activist Court liberals claimed they didn’t want. Remember when, in the months leading up to the June 2012 Court decision, liberals claimed that only activist judges would deny the country what Congress passed—albeit with only Democratic votes. And, they said, conservatives were supposed to be against activist judges. Well, this decision was an activist decision. There is a longstanding process for how Congress fixes problems in the legislation it passes: it’s called a “technical corrections bill.” Members simply pass the needed language to...
There’s ‘No Sugarcoating’ Health Insurance Exchange Failures

There’s ‘No Sugarcoating’ Health Insurance Exchange Failures

If you’ve been desperately seeking a President Obama statement that’s true, try this one from Oct. 21, 2013, just after the healthcare.gov rollout: “But the problem has been that the website that’s supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is not working the way it should for everybody. And there’s no sugarcoating it.” Actually, the president has sugarcoated virtually everything having to do with Obamacare. While Obama was referring specifically to the federal website, many of the states faced even worse problems—and still do. Oregon probably wins the prize for the worst exchange. It never managed to sign up one person—after spending $248 million. It was so bad that Oregon defaulted to the federal health insurance exchange. Two months ago, the new governor, Kate Brown—the former governor, John Kitzhaber, resigned in disgrace—signed Senate Bill 1, which mercifully ended the Cover Oregon website. Maryland’s exchange was also a disaster and has only recently started to improve, after a Republican took over the state and the exchange’s board decided to drop its software company and spend $41 million more, after already spending millions of taxpayer dollars, on new software. Oh, a federal audit in March found thestate improperly billed the feds for $28 million it shouldn’t have. And while there were other major state failures, that’s not the topic of most of the latest news stories. It’s that several of the state exchanges can’t afford to stay in business. For example, Hawaii state legislators have refused to pour millions of dollars into Hawaii’s exchange, which means it could close by Sept. 30. And let’s not forget...
Should the Supreme Court Limit Obamacare Subsidies Only to State-Created Health Exchanges?

Should the Supreme Court Limit Obamacare Subsidies Only to State-Created Health Exchanges?

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the second biggest legal challenge to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, on March 4. A decision for the plaintiffs in King vs. Burwell won’t kill the law, but it could make it largely unworkable in 37 states. The question before the court in King is not a constitutional one, as it was when the court upheld the ACA’s mandate requiring individuals to have health insurance. King only asks whether the government must abide by the plain language of a law it passed. Adhering to what a law says has been particularly difficult for Obama and his administration. The ACA specifically states that subsidies that help cover the cost of insurance premiums are only available to those who were enrolled “through an exchange established by the State under section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” That language is important because only 13 states set up their own exchanges. The other 37 either didn’t try or failed and so relied on the federal government to do it. The Obama administration has decided to hand out the subsidies to every state anyway, in complete disregard for the law—hence the legal challenge. There are several reasons to think this challenge will succeed. First, both liberal and conservative justices have increasingly emphasized that they will not override the clear language of a law, regardless of what Congress intended to do. For example, liberal Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan recently wrote, “this court does not revise legislation just because the text as written creates an apparent anomaly as to some subject it does not...
What the Veterans Administration scandal tells us about Obamacare

What the Veterans Administration scandal tells us about Obamacare

Americans should be paying close attention to the emerging healthcare scandal in the Veterans Administration (VA), because it’s a preview of what we will all be experiencing soon under Obamacare. VA health care has long been a blot on a country that historically has treated its veterans well (Vietnam excepted). While millions of Americans are eligible for VA care, almost no one uses it if they can possibly get private health insurance or Medicare. The most recent scandal involves VA employees creating two waiting lists: the official list is meant to show the Medical Center is meeting the agency’s policy of vets being able to get professional medical help within 14 days of making a request. The other, secret list has the names of those who are waiting to be put on the official list. Some 40 vets allegedly died while on the waiting list of the VA facility in Phoenix, Ariz. Now, a growing number of VA Medical Centers have been implicated in similar practices—in Arizona, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina. But these are only the latest in a string of scandals. Last year, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) held hearings around the country to hear veterans tell about their government-provided VA health care—the same government that is now overseeing everyone’s health care under Obamacare. There were whistleblowers complaining of poor sterilization practices and reusing of implements that should have been discarded, infecting vets with HIV; long delays in treating patients; and a backlog of more than 400,000 vets who had filed disability claims that had yet to be processed. Oh, and U.S. News...

Kathleen Sebelius Sticks American People With Higher Costs, Fewer Choices, and Lost Jobs

By Doug Bandow Congress passed the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act four years ago. It was a signal political achievement. Alas, ObamaCare is proving to be a policy bust as Kathleen Sebelius leaves her job as Secretary of Health and Human Services. For instance, health insurance premiums are rising dramatically, especially for the young. The federal government now mandates expensive “benefits” that many people do not need or desire. Even more dramatic is the reverse Robin Hood redistribution from the generally lower-income young to the mostly wealthier old. As I point out in my new Forbes online article: “By requiring coverage irrespective of health status and limiting risk-based premium differentials ObamaCare shifted costs from gray-haired investment bankers to newbie sales associates. Despite the administration’s faux shock at the huge premium increases for the young, the legislation is working precisely as intended.” Along with higher premiums came the destruction of existing plans. The president’s promise that if people liked their policies they could keep them was a calculated and cynical deception. The legislation explicitly overrode private choice to impose Washington’s preferred “benefit” mix. Another impact of the ACA, discussed in a new report from the American Health Policy Institute, is to increase business costs through new taxes, mandated benefits, and administrative costs. Moreover, companies ultimately will end up paying indirect costs, such as a share of new taxes on others, such as for medical devices. In 2012 large employers spent about $580 billion to cover employees and their dependents. AHPI figured these companies would have to spend an extra $4800 to $5900 per employee. Some amount of this...