Tag Archives: Obamacare

Justice Tells Court Obamacare Unconstitutional, Could Strike Down Entire Law

WASHINGTON, DC – The Trump-Barr Department of Justice (DOJ) informed a federal appeals court on Monday that it agrees with Texas and the other states suing over Obamacare that President Donald Trump’s repealing of the individual mandate renders the entire law unconstitutional, and therefore should be struck down in its entirety.

https://whiskeytangotexas.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/865f2-serveimage.jpg

(Ken Klukowski) This all turns on the legal doctrine of severability. Much of the time when a statute is unconstitutional it is actually only partially unconstitutional. Typically a court will strike down that part of the law, but sever it from the rest of the statute and uphold the remainder.

Pundits who have never studied or litigated severability will surely show up on television now posing as experts, and criticizing DOJ’s position. But writing as a former law school faculty member who authored the largest academic work on severability doctrine ever published, permit me to describe the argument and why it should be taken seriously.

President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 when a Democrat-controlled Congress passed that statute without a single Republican vote in either the House or Senate. Various plaintiffs immediately filed suit. In the biggest lawsuit, a majority of states in the nation – along with the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and several private individuals – filed suit in Florida, arguing that the ACA was unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs raised multiple constitutional issues. At the heart of the legal challenge is the doctrine of enumerated powers: The Constitution gives the federal government only limited powers, and so every provision of every law Congress passes must be authorized by one of the provisions of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

One constitutional objection to the ACA was that Section 1501 of the ACA – which is the individual mandate that requires Americans to buy health insurance – is unconstitutional, because Congress’s constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution does not include the power to order human beings to buy something, thereby entering into the commercial realm where the government can regulate them.

Section 1201 of the ACA is the preexisting condition provisions of “guaranteed issue” and “community rating,” which ensures that no person attempting to purchase insurance can be denied coverage, and that a person cannot be charged more because of preexisting conditions. Section 1501 mandates that everyone buy insurance to offset the effect of the multi-billion-dollar costs arising from Section 1201.

Another count of the lawsuit brought by the states and NFIB was that the individual mandate section could not be severed from the other 450 sections of the 1,000-page ACA statute, and therefore that the whole statute must fail with the mandate section.

Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida agreed, holding it was unconstitutional. Vinson also held that the individual mandate could not be severed from the remainder of the statute, and therefore struck down the ACA in its entirety. (Disclosure: Vinson quoted this author’s legal brief in the case when he ruled that the individual mandate is nonseverable.)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit agreed that the individual mandate was unconstitutional, and noted that even the Obama DOJ admitted to the court that Section 1501 could not be severed from the statute, but nonetheless severed that section anyway, and upheld the rest of the law.

The Supreme Court in 2012 took the historic case of NFIB v. Sebelius to decide four issues: (1) whether a different federal statute – the Anti-Injunction Act – even permitted federal courts to decide this case before the individual mandate went into effect in 2014; (2) whether the individual mandate is not authorized by Congress’s authority under Article I, Section 8; (3) whether the ACA’s enormous expansion of Medicaid unconstitutionally coerces the states; and (4) whether the statute can be severed from any sections that are unconstitutional.

The justices unanimously agreed that it had jurisdiction to decide the case immediately. By a 7-2 decision, the Court agreed that the Medicaid expansion was unconstitutional under the Tenth Amendment, but a separate 5-4 lineup held that the expansion would be constitutional if it was optional for the states, and effectively rewrote Section 2001 of the ACA.

Four justices – conservatives Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, joined by moderate Anthony Kennedy – wrote that the individual mandate exceeded Congress’s Commerce Clause power and was therefore unconstitutional. They also wrote that the Medicaid expansion exceeded Congress’s Spending Clause power, and could not be rewritten, and thus those core provisions must both be struck down.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a dissent for the four liberal justices, claiming what many claim to be unlimited federal power under the Commerce Clause over the lives of American citizens. She and Justice Sonia Sotomayor also insisted that the Medicaid expansion was constitutional.

Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito also wrote that both the individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion were critical to the entire ACA. They concluded that the provisions could not be severed from the statute, and that without either one, all of Obamacare must go down.

Breitbart News published a five-part series on “The Great Dissent,” quoting the justices in their own words, explaining through those five articles their reasoning that (1) Obamacare must be struck down, (2) the individual mandate violates the Commerce Clause, (3) the individual mandate is not a tax, (4) the Medicaid expansion violates the Tenth Amendment, and (5) both unconstitutional provisions are nonseverable from the ACA, and so the entire law must be struck down.

Then came a historic surprise. Chief Justice John Roberts agreed that the individual mandate was not authorized by the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. However, he concluded that even though only a couple paragraphs in 980 pages of legal briefs discussing Congress’s power to tax, and even though only a couple minutes was spent on that issue during six hours of oral argument, that the individual mandate was authorized by the Constitution’s Tax Clause, and was therefore constitutional.

Roberts admitted that the individual mandate looked like a commercial regulatory law, and thus would normally need to be authorized by the Commerce Clause. However, he wrote that there were several factors that, taken together, permitted courts to view the mandate as a tax. These included that (1) it was codified in 26 U.S.C. § 5000A, which is part of the Tax Code; (2) it was enforced by the IRS, (3) proof of complying with the mandate is reported along with a person’s annual Form 1040 tax return, and (4) failure to comply results in a tax penalty that goes to the U.S. Treasury along with normal tax money.

Years later, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Part of that historic tax reform repealed 26 U.S.C. § 5000A in the Tax Code, which is the operative part of the individual mandate.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton immediately sued, joined by 19 other states. Their argument is that the factors Roberts relied upon to uphold the individual mandate as a tax no longer existed. As such, the only relevant constitutional provision is the Commerce Clause, and a five-Justice majority already held in NFIB that the individual mandate would be unconstitutional if it relied upon Congress’s commercial regulatory power.

Texas went on to argue that the individual mandate still cannot be severed from the rest of the ACA, and therefore the entire statute must be struck down.

Consider Congress’s findings on the role the individual mandate plays in the entire Obamacare system. Those official findings are found in Section 1501 itself, and those findings from Section 1501(a) were permanently codified in the United States Code in 42 U.S.C. § 18091(a).

Congress said at 42 U.S.C. § 18091(a)(2)(A) that without the individual mandate, “some individuals would make an economic and financial decision to forego health insurance,” and thus would endanger the whole Obamacare system. Paragraph 18091(a)(2)(C) says that “together with other provisions of this Act,” the individual mandate is what will add people to the insurance market. Paragraph 18091(a)(2)(D) says the individual mandate will result in “near-universal coverage.”

Paragraph 18091(a)(2)(H) adds:

The [individual mandate] requirement is an essential part of this larger regulation of economic activity, and the absence of the requirement would undercut Federal regulation of the health insurance market.

And finally, Paragraph 18091(a)(2)(I) adds that:

… if there were no [individual mandate], many individuals would wait to purchase health insurance until they needed care. By significantly increasing health insurance coverage, the requirement, together with the other provisions of the Act, will minimize adverse selection and broaden the health insurance risk pool to include healthy individuals, which will lower health insurance premiums. The requirement is essential to creating effective health insurance markets …..

The Obama administration admitted during the big Supreme Court case that the individual mandate was the essential “linchpin” to keep the entire ACA from imploding due to unsustainable costs. It is a compelling argument against severability.

The Supreme Court has held that courts must look to congressional intent when determining whether part of a statute can be severed to salvage the rest. Courts must ascertain the original “legislative bargain,” and then ask two questions: First, does the remaining statute “function in a manner consistent with the intent of Congress.” And if so, second, would Congress “have enacted them standing alone and without the unconstitutional portion.”

If the answer to either question is “no,” then the unconstitutional provision is nonseverable, and the court must strike down the entire statute.

Paxton’s team representing the 20 states – initially led in the courtroom by Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller and now continued by Keller’s successor, Kyle Hawkins – set forth all this material to Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

The defenders of the ACA argued that when Congress amended the Tax Code through President Trump’s new law, that reset the clock as to the point in time a court should look at for legislative intent. They say that a court should ask if Congress meant to repeal the whole Obamacare system when it enacted the Trump tax cuts. If not, they say the individual mandate can now be severed.

But the states’ counter argument is that Congress removed the part of the mandate that was a tax, but did not remove the congressional findings that the individual mandate was still essential to the ACA being able to function as Congress wishes.

Judge O’Connor accepted Paxton’s arguments. The district court held that without taxing power support, the individual mandate is an unconstitutional mandate under the Commerce Clause, and that the rest of the ACA cannot be severed from it.

The case is now on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The head of DOJ’s Civil Division, Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt, filed a notice with the Fifth Circuit on Monday informing the court that the Trump administration agrees with Texas that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and nonseverable, and thus that the entire ACA is unconstitutional. DOJ therefore will be filing briefs in support of the legal challenge. (Liberal states have intervened as the defendants in the case.)

What so many talking heads derided as an absurd lawsuit suddenly looks like a pretty serious case after all.

President Trump has had a major impact on the Fifth Circuit through his judicial appointments. Proven constitutional conservatives like Judges Don Willett, Jim Ho, Andy Oldham, and Kyle Duncan now sit on that court, under the mentoring of the fearless originalist Edith Jones and the libertarian-leaning Jerry Smith.

Regardless of how the Fifth Circuit rules in the case, the fact remains that the fifth vote to win at the Supreme Court is still Roberts. Many believe that his reasoning was such a stretch to save Obamacare the first time that he would find another rationale to do so now.

While that might be true, it does not need to be true. It is possible that the chief justice could play it straight from his 2012 reasoning, in which case the ACA should be struck down without the tax authorization.

It is also possible that President Trump will fill another Supreme Court vacancy before this case is decided by the Supreme Court – a decision that could come in 2020 but is more likely to come in 2021 – in which case Roberts’ vote might not even be necessary.

Suddenly, Obamacare is back in the legal crosshairs. If it falls under this legal challenge, President Trump would have a clean canvas on which to design fundamental market-based reforms to provide healthcare security and freedom for millions of Americans.

The case is Texas v. United States, No. 19-10011 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Source: by Ken Klukowski | Breitbart

Advertisements

Justice Department Says Obamacare’s Individual Mandate Unconstitutional

The Justice Department argued in court Thursday that key pieces of Obamacare, including the individual mandate are unconstitutional.

The 2012 Supreme Court ruling which upheld Obamacare’s individual mandate under Congress’s power to tax is being challenged by the DOJ.

Since the individual mandate was repealed by Congress last year, the DOJ argued the mandate is no longer technically a tax, therefore unconstitutional.

The liberals are going ballistic over this news arguing the Justice Department is supposed to defend laws, not make them.

These same liberals were silent when Obama instructed his Justice Department (AG Holder) to stop defending DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act).

The Department of Justice (DOJ) argued in court Thursday that key parts of ObamaCare are now unconstitutional, siding in large part with a conservative challenge to the law.

The lawsuit in question was filed in February by Texas and 19 other conservative states, arguing that ObamaCare is unconstitutional and should be overturned.

The DOJ argues that ObamaCare’s protections against people with pre-existing conditions being denied coverage or charged more should be invalidated, maintaining that the individual mandate that people have insurance or face a tax penalty is now unconstitutional.

The conservative states and DOJ point to the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling that upheld ObamaCare’s individual mandate under Congress’s taxing power. Now that Congress has repealed the mandate penalty as part of last year’s tax bill – while technically keeping the mandate itself in place – they argue the mandate is no longer a tax and is now invalid.

They also argue that the key pre-existing condition protections cannot be separated from the mandate and should be invalidated. The DOJ argues the remainder of the law can stay.

The chances for that argument succeeding are viewed with deep skepticism by legal experts, in part because Congress itself indicated that the rest of ObamaCare could still stand without the mandate when it moved to repeal the tax penalty last year.

The case is currently before a federal district court judge in Texas, Reed O’Connor, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

Obamacare is a complete disaster and is predictably imploding.

Of course Obamacare is unconstitutional; it was one giant transfer of wealth.

Americans are furious because their premiums and deductibles have skyrocketed while doctor choice and care has dwindled.

President Trump recently railed against Obamacare’s individual mandate calling it “cruel” and a “punishment.”

Source: By Christina Laila | The Gateway Pundit

As Trump Ends Obamacare Mandate, California May Impose Its Own

https://i1.wp.com/media.breitbart.com/media/2015/06/Covered-California-640x480.jpg

California’s Democrat-controlled legislature is considering a state version of Obamacare’s individual mandate to replace the one killed by President Trump’s new tax reform bill.

State Senator and Chair of the Senate Health Committee Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) told the San Francisco Chronicle that the tax reform that passed both houses of Congress this week, which would eliminate the penalty for not buying health insurance, is projected to result in 1.7 million fewer Californians having health insurance over the next decade. Hernandez claimed that, “All options are on the table if federal enforcement of the individual mandate ends.”

The State of California is expected to lose nearly $1.3 billion a year in Obamacare penalties, due to the tax reform bill eliminating fines for uninsured individuals, and employers not signing up for health care, according to an analysis by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.

Obamacare was sold to the American public as an economic stimulus. But it appears to have caused negative “economic multipliers” that resulted in the worst economic recovery since World War II.

Yet California, with a population of 39.25 million, was able to game the Obamacare rules to push up its Medicaid enrollment to 13,465,532, or about 34 percent of the state’s population, according to the Medicaid.gov website. Despite having less than 12 percent of the nation’s population, California pocketed 19.6 percent of all federal spending on Medicaid. In federal cash dollars, that worked out to a stunning $110.838 billion in 2016.

Covered California executive director Peter Lee suggested at a Dec. 7 board meeting that the Democrat-controlled California legislature should pass its own state-level individual mandate. He stated that there is a precedent for a state mandate from former Republican Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s 2007 health care reform deal.

Although such an effort would require two-thirds majorities of both the California Assembly and Senate, which will be difficult due to several Democrats resigning recently over alleged sexual harassment allegations, the alternative is huge spending cuts to meet the state’s constitutional requirement for a balanced budget.

Californians who did not buy health insurance last year paid a penalty based on the greater of $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, plus cost of living adjustment, or 2.5 percent of taxable household income over the tax filing threshold.

* * *

Expect California Republican congress members Dana Rohrabacher and Darrell Issa to support a CA individual mandate measure because they were two of the twelve house republicans who voted against Trump’s tax reform plan.

By Chriss W. Street | Breitbart

New Study: Cheapest Obamacare Plans Are “Unaffordable” In 94% Of American Cities

We’ve frequently warned that Obamacare is locked in an inescapable death spiral that will result in its inevitable failure.  The problem is that the folks who make too much to qualify for subsidies (currently defined as roughly $80,000 for a family of 3) are increasingly being priced out of the market for individual insurance by Obamacare’s 30%+ price hikes that consistently come year after year.  Meanwhile, those “rich” families making $80,000 a year are the ones expected to overpay for their health insurance so that a portion of their premiums can be “spread around a little bit” (as Obama likes to say) to subsidize the premiums of others.  Of course, it’s easy to see the circularity here as higher premiums equals less “full-paying” customers and less subsidies equals higher premiums…until the whole system collapses.  

Luckily you no longer have to take our word for it as eHealth.com has just published a new study that finds that, even by Obamacare’s own definition of “affordability”, residents in 47 out of 50 cities surveyed can’t afford the cheapest Obamacare plan.

According to a study released today by eHealth, Inc., which operates eHealth.com, the average family of three earning slightly too much to qualify for subsidies in 2018 would need to increase its household income by nearly $29,000 before health insurance became “affordable” based on Obamacare criteria.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) considers health insurance to be “unaffordable” when annual premiums for the lowest-priced plan in a market cost more than 8.16% of a household’s modified adjusted gross income (or MAGI). When health insurance is unaffordable by this standard, individuals and families may qualify for an exemption from Obamacare’s individual mandate to buy health insurance.

“Coverage under the Affordable Care Act is becoming seriously unaffordable for many families, even by Obamacare’s own rules,” said eHealth CEO Scott Flanders. “I find it hard to believe that the framers of the law ever intended the cost of family health insurance to rival that of a second mortgage. Without the introduction of lower-cost options into the market or expanded government subsidies, many middle-income Americans are in danger of being priced out of the health insurance market entirely.”

https://i1.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2017/09/29/2017.09.29%20-%20Obamacare%20Img_0.JPG

Meanwhile, if anything, the study conducted by eHealth was somewhat conservative as it only assumed a 10% premium increase in 2018.

In preparing its analysis, eHealth reviewed the lowest-price 2017 plan available for families of three comprised of two adults age 35 and one child. The same family model was analyzed using data from Healthcare.gov in 40 cities, data from eHealth.com in 9 cities not utilizing Healthcare.gov, and data from the New York state exchange for New York City.

After applying a relatively modest annual rate increase of 10% to 2017 rates to project 2018 rates, eHealth discovered the following:

  • In 47 of 50 cities surveyed, the lowest-priced plan would be officially unaffordable under Obamacare affordability standards for families earning 401% of the federal poverty level (about $82,000 per year in the contiguous US, making them ineligible for Obamacare subsidies).
  • Among these, the average three-person household would need to earn an additional $28,939 per year before the lowest-cost plan becomes affordable according to Obamacare rules.

To put eHealth’s findings in perspective, a family of 3 in Charlotte, NC, with an annual income of $81,884, would have to spend 18% of their gross income in 2018 just to purchase the cheapest Obamacare plan for their family.  On a post-tax basis, that expenditure would be well over 20%.  Moreover, as eHealth points out, that family of 3 would have to find a way to make an extra $102,245 per year to meet the “affordability” test included in the Obamacare legislation.

Here’s how other cities compared on Obamacare “affordability”:

https://i0.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2017/09/29/2017.09.29%20-%20Obamacare%20Cities.jpg

Steve Bannon famously said, “If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you’re sadly mistaken.” This is a long war. The alt-right would be wise to think about how to win a long, low grade culture war. That means building up the intellectual and cultural side, while also systematically throwing sand in the gears of the colonial machine. The path to victory is to make neo-liberalism too expensive to maintain and too unappealing to support.

Source: ZeroHedge

 

Death Spiral: 6.5 Million People Choose To Pay Tax Rather Than Buy Obamacare

For those who still aren’t convinced that Obamacare is trapped in an inescapable death spiral that will inevitably end in nothing short of an epic collapse of the federal and state health insurance exchanges, perhaps you should consider the following facts from the National Review and Mark Farrah and Associates.

–  Four heavily promoted open enrollments have taken place run by the Obama administration and the state exchanges.

–  Federal law has required people to purchase insurance or pay a fine — and the individual mandate was administered through 2016 by the Obama administration. In fact, in 2015, 7.5 million people paid the fine, while 6.5 million paid the fine in 2016, according to the IRS.

–  Every one of the people in the insurance market earning less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level were eligible for premium assistance — and those below 250 percent of the poverty level were also eligible to have their deductibles and co-pays subsidized.

–  After all of this, only about 40 percent of those eligible for subsidies have signed up for coverage. In what other business or government program would such a dismal acceptance by those it was targeted to serve be considered a success?

–  The number of insurance companies participating is on track to shrink by 38 percent in 2018.

And then there is the chart below…if people really saw “value” in Obamacare wouldn’t you expect that more than 2% of the people who don’t qualify for subisidies would sign up?

Finally, I will suggest the real test of whether a health-insurance program is stable is whether the consumers for whom it is intended believe that it provides them with value. Here is a chart of the take-up rate on the federal exchanges under the Affordable Care Act; excluding the “Over 400%” category, all of these individuals are eligible for subsidies. This chart represents data from last year, but with only a 4 percent reduction in those purchasing on the exchanges between 2016 and 2017, it should remain a fair indication of consumer approval of the program.

The health-insurance industry has long considered a 75 percent take-up rate to be the gold standard in evaluating whether an insurance pool is stable — i.e., whether there are enough healthy people signed up to pay the claims of the sick. While the exchanges appear to have achieved this for the lowest-income consumers — those who get the biggest premium subsidies and also have their out-of-pocket costs subsidized — only 17 percent of those making 301 to 400 percent of the poverty level have signed up.

https://i0.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2017/08/09/2017.08.09%20-%20OCare1.JPG

Still not convinced, how about this?  The “off-exchange market” (i.e. people who make too much money to quality for subsidies and whose premiums are required to subsidize everyone else who does qualify) contracted by 2.1mm in 2016, or a 29% drop.  With those kind of declines, it’s only a matter of time until there are no more rich fools in the pool willing to continue subsidizing a broken system.

Also, MFA published the same report in 2016, facilitating a year-over-year comparison. The on-exchange market fell from 12,681,874 to 12,216,003 individuals, a reduction of 465,871 or 4 percent. However, the off-exchange market fell from 7,520,939 to 5,361,451, a reduction of 2,159,488 or 29 percent. In other words, enrollment is steady among those who receive subsidies but declining dramatically among those who do not.

Much has been made of the question of whether the individual markets are in a “death spiral.” Given that the on-exchange market enrollment is relatively stable, there is clearly not a death spiral in the subsidized market. However, with a reduction in the unsubsidized market of 29 percent in just one year, that pattern certainly looks like one we would expect in a market spiraling down.

Meanwhile, of course, that 29% drop exactly why insurance companies are expected to hike their rates by 20-40% in certain markets again in 2018…

https://i1.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2017/08/02/2017.08.02%20-%20ACA_0.JPG

…and why rates have soared an average of 113% over the past 4 years, or nearly 30% per year.

Source: ZeroHedge

Covered California Plans To Jack 2018 Premiums Up 12.5%

Covered California announced this week that its 2018 rates will increase about eight times faster than the rate of inflation, as the Obamacare law and the state’s liberal legislature continue to destroy private insurance in California.

Despite the latest United States Department of Labor Consumer Price Index for the month of June estimating that inflation rose by only 1.6 percent over the last twelve months, Covered California, Obamacare for the state, just announced that the average health insurance premiums on the California insurance exchanges would rise by 12.5 percent, or about 7.81 times faster than the rate of inflation.

Covered California’s spiking prices are actually a relative bargain compared to the even worse Obamacare price increases insurers are about to extract across the rest of the nation. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “big insurers in Idaho, West Virginia, South Carolina, Iowa, and Wyoming are seeking to raise premiums by 30 percent or more.”

The insurance industry lobbied the Democrat-controlled Congress in 2010 to design Obamacare to be more expensive than traditional private insurance by dramatically expanding services covered in the health benefit packages.

https://i1.wp.com/media.breitbart.com/media/2015/06/Covered-California-640x480.jpg

Section 1302 of the law granted also the Department of Health and Human Services the right to periodically revise an “essential health benefits package” of minimum health insurance coverage requirements. That allowed insurance companies to lobby federal bureaucrats to add more benefits and eliminate the standard lifetime caps on spending for wildly expensive treatments, such as inpatient drug rehabilitation.

Since the 2013-4 launch of Obamacare, premiums have risen by about 15 percent per year, despite inflation averaging only about 2 percent a year.

Not only were insurance companies making huge increases in revenue during the Obamacare years, their gross profit margins jumped from 22 percent, when Obamacare was passed in 2010, to 26 percent in the last quarter of 2016. Healthcare stocks have been the second-hottest sector in the seven-year bull market for stocks. Since Obamacare was passed on March 23, 2010, the healthcare stock index has risen by 248 percent.

The Trump presidential win appeared to represent an existential threat to the healthcare industry’s Obamacare bonanza. But with the Republican Senate failing to pass any type of Obamacare repeal, the healthcare stocks hit another all-time-high on July 31.

Many major healthcare companies that supported the expansion of Obamacare benefits and costs over the last seven years are now dropping out of the program as customers begin to take full advantage of the expanded and unlimited benefits.

United Healthcare, America’s largest healthcare insurer, announced in March 2016 that it was exiting all Obamacare exchanges after stating that Obamacare claims would reduce 2016 earnings by about $850 million. Still, four months later, United Healthcare recorded all-time-record quarterly revenues of $46.5 billion, a $10 billion increase over the prior year.

Covered California had been able to keep healthcare premium growth to around 10 percent per year because 11 healthcare insurers were participating. But Aetna dropped out at the end of 2016, and Anthem Blue Cross just announced they are dumping 153,000 customers and shutting down California operations in all regions except the rural north state, Central Valley, and Santa Clara County, according to the Orange County Register.

The 12.5 percent Covered California statewide increase is just an average. Abandoned United Healthcare subscribers can still buy coverage from Blue Shield, but their annual premium cost is expected to leap by 24 percent.

Covered California premium rates could jump statewide by another 16.6 percent if the Trump administration does not contest the May 12, 2016 ruling by U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer in United States House of Representatives v. Price that the Obama administration improperly amended Obamacare in January 2014 to pay billions in cost-sharing subsidies to insurers without congressional approval.

By Chriss W. Street | Breitbart

 

Sen. Rand Paul: Senate GOP Decide to Keep Obamacare

https://i1.wp.com/media.breitbart.com/media/2017/05/Rand-Paul-J.-Scott-ApplewhiteAP-640x480.jpg

I miss the old days, when Republicans stood for repealing Obamacare. Republicans across the country and every member of my caucus campaigned on repeal – often declaring they would tear out Obamacare “root and branch!”

What happened?

(Breitbart) Now too many Republicans are falling all over themselves to stuff hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars into a bill that doesn’t repeal Obamacare and feeds Big Insurance a huge bailout.

Obamacare regulations? Still here. Taxes? Many still in place, totaling hundreds of billions of dollars.

Insurance company bailouts? Those, too. Remember when Republicans complained about Obamacare’s risk corridors? Remember when we called the corridors nothing more than insurance company bailouts? I remember when one prominent GOP candidate during a presidential debate explicitly called out the Obamacare risk corridors as a bailout to insurance companies. Does anyone else?

Now, the Senate GOP plan being put forward is chock full of insurance bailout money – to the tune of nearly $200 billion. Republicans, present company excluded, now support the idea of lowering your insurance premium by giving a subsidy to the insurance company.

Remarkable. If the GOP now supports an insurance stabilization fund to lower insurance prices, maybe they now support a New Car stabilization fund to lower the price of cars. Or maybe the GOP would support an iPhone stabilization fund to lower the price of phones.

The possibilities are limitless once you accept that the federal government should subsidize prices. I remember when Republicans favored the free choice of the marketplace.

The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. I want to repeat that so everyone realizes why I’ll vote “no” as it stands now:

The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. Not even close.

In fact, the Senate GOP bill codifies and likely expands many aspects of Obamacare.

The Senate Obamacare-lite bill codifies a federal entitlement to insurance. With the Senate GOP bill, Republicans, for the first time, will signal that they favor a key aspect of Obamacare – federal taxpayer funding of private insurance purchases.

The bill will transfer billions of dollars to people who will then transfer billions of dollars to insurance companies. What a great business model – encourage the federal government to use taxpayer money to buy a private company’s product. Great business model, that is, if you are Big Insurance. Remarkable.

The Senate Obamacare-lite bill does what the Democrats forgot to do – appropriate billions for Obamacare’s cost-sharing reductions, aka subsidies. Really? Republicans are going to fund Obamacare subsidies that the Democrats forgot to fund?

Doesn’t sound much like repeal to me. One might even argue it’s worse than Obamacare-lite because it actually creates a giant superfund to bail out the insurance companies – something even the Democrats feared to do.

I was first elected in the heady days of the Tea Party Tidal Wave, when tens of thousands of citizens gathered on the central city lawn to protest Big Government, Big Debt, and a government takeover of health care.

This citizenry won in four elections. Each time, the GOP establishment told conservatives, “We can’t repeal Obamacare until we have all three branches of government.” Finally, in 2016, that came to pass. Republicans now control all three branches of government.

And . . . the best that is offered is Obamacare-lite: keeping the Obamacare subsidies, keeping some of the Obamacare taxes, creating a giant insurance bailout superfund, and keeping most of the Obamacare regulations.

Shame. Shame on many in the GOP for promising repeal and instead affirming, keeping, and, in some cases, expanding Obamacare. What a shame.