#Obamacare: first time in a long time I’ve agreed with Bill Clinton

October 5, 2016
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Boy, this must annoy just about everyone else in the (Social) Democratic camp, including his wife and the current president: former President Bill Clinton being honest (1) about one aspect of how painful Obamacare is for Americans. Jim Geraghty quotes him:

If you’re already on Medicare or if you get enough subsidies on a modest income then you can afford your healthcare. But the people who are getting killed in this deal are small business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get in these subsidies. Why? Because they’re not organized. They don’t have any bargaining power with insurance companies and they’re getting whacked. So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have healthcare and then the people are out there busting it sometimes 60 hours a week wind up with their premiums double and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world.

Darn right, Mr. President. And a lot of us have been saying Obamacare is crazy for a long time.

Welcome to the party, pal.

Footnote:
(1) Must’ve been an accident.

 


Utah to raise taxes on the sick to pay for Medicaid expansion?

September 27, 2015
c

Make bees angry, get stung in return

Utah is one of the many states that has so far resisted expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. It’s a smart decision: While the Federal government (read, the entire nations through taxes or borrowing) pays for an initial 90% of that expansion, that percentage goes down over the years and leaves the state more and more on the hook. It’s a delayed budget-buster that would force a state to impose its own ruinous taxation; Medicaid already eats a huge portion of state budgets, and this would make the problem far worse.

So, the Utah legislature has refused to commit fiscal suicide by expanding Medicaid, but the Governor, Gary Herbert, is determined to pull that trigger. So, they’ve looked for a “compromise” that would garner more funding for Utah Medicaid. And what does that compromise entail? I bet you can guess…

New taxes:

According to the few specifics made public, the biggest component of the negotiated framework is to levy a new “assessment” on medical providers in Utah to help pay for the state’s share of expansion. But the so-called assessment is simply a new Obamacare tax on the sick that will not only raise health care costs for all Utahns, but add significantly to the national debt.

Provider Taxes Are Taxes On Everyone

Gov. Herbert says this plan will allow the state to expand Medicaid under Obamacare without the need to “raise taxes” to pay for it. But the proposed provider tax is still a tax – and not just on providers.

Hospitals and other providers won’t pay this tax. Although they may write a check and send it to the state treasury, they won’t bear the burden of a new tax. As Milton Friedman frequently explained: only people can pay taxes. This new Obamacare expansion tax will simply be passed along to Utahns seeking medical care.

Worse yet, this new tax will be borne not just by sick Utahns, but by taxpayers everywhere. This new scheme was designed specifically to draw in more money from federal taxpayers.

Here’s how it works: hospitals and other providers will pay an “assessment” to the Utah government. Utah will then turnaround and spend those dollars in order to trigger federal “matching” dollars for Medicaid expansion. In this case, federal taxpayers will have to kick in an extra $9 or more for every dollar Utah collects from the sick.

And remember: there is no magic pot of Obamacare money to cover those funds. Any federal money Utah spends on Obamacare expansion will simply be added to the national debt.

So, in summary, there are three major things wrong here:

  • Proponents of the measure, including the Governor, are lying to the people of Utah. Call it an “assessment” or a “fee” or even “broiled fish,” a tax is still a tax. John Roberts notwithstanding.
  • They are also lying when they say the tax will be borne by providers. Bullsh… Er… Nonsense. This cost will be passed on to those receiving services: the sick.
  • The federal government will have to borrow money or raise taxes to pay its share if this. Either way, that’s more from you and me.

And, on top of it all, Medicaid expansion is still a looming fiscal disaster for the Beehive State.

This stinks to High Heaven. The good people of Utah should contact their legislators and the governor’s office to remind them that a) they do not like even more of their hard-earned money being snatched from their pockets to pay for stupid ideas; and b) elections have consequences, especially for pols determined to do dumb things.


Obamacare Is Still a Disaster

September 25, 2015

Among the teachings of Hippocrates (but not part of the Hippocratic oath doctors take) is the phrase “primum non nocere” –“First do no harm.” It’s a shame our progressive politicians don’t make that same vow, because their creation, Obamacare, is sure doing a lot of harm.

International Liberty

Like many Americans, I’m suffering from Obamacare fatigue.

Health Freedom Meter before ObamacareBefore the law was implemented, I repeatedly explained that more spending and more intervention  in the health sector would worsen a system that already was suffering from too much government.

And since the law went into effect, I’ve pointed out – over and over again – the predictably negative effects of Health Freedom Meter after Obamacaregiving the government even more control.

So I’m tempted to wash my hands of the issue.

But that would be wrong, particularly since advocates of statism disingenuously might claim that silence somehow means acceptance or approval.

Moreover, we need to continuously remind ourselves that big government doesn’t work just in case there’s a chance to enact good reforms after Obama leaves office.

With that in mind, let’s look at recent developments that underscore the case against government-run healthcare.

How about the fact that Obamacare is extremely vulnerable to fraud

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Obamacare and the Odious Anti-Constitutionalism of Chief Justice John Roberts

June 28, 2015

I was going to write a long post about the three rotten Supreme Court decisions in two days at the end of this last week –Obamacare, “Disparate impact,” and gay marriage (I support SSM, but Kennedy’s opinion is a judicial farrago.), but Dan sums it all up quite nicely for me, even though he’s only talking about Obamacare.

International Liberty

I feel compelled to comment on the Supreme Court’s latest Obamacare decision, though I could sum up my reaction with one word: disgust.

  • I’m disgusted that we had politicians who decided in 2009 and 2010 to further screw up the healthcare system with Obamacare.
  • I’m disgusted the IRS then decided to arbitrarily change the law in order to provide subsidies to people getting insurance through the federal exchange, even though the law explicitly says those handouts were only supposed to go to those getting policies through state exchanges (as the oily Jonathan Gruber openly admitted).
  • I’m disgusted that the lawyers at the Justice Department and the Office of White House Counsel didn’t have the integrity to say that handouts could only be given to people using state exchanges.
  • But most of all, I’m disgusted that the Supreme Court once again has decided to put politics above the Constitution.

In…

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#Obamacare: the only candidate to answer my question

June 26, 2015

ted_cruz

Yesterday, in the wake of the Court’s abominable decision in King v. Burwell, I posted a question to some of the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination:

I then pointed out that I would be interested to see not which candidate (1), if any, answered me, but which would give me the most direct, unequivocal answer. Nearly 24 hours later, only one has replied:

Senator Cruz wins for not only being the first and only candidate to answer me, but for giving me the direct, no-bull answer I was seeking. The senator isn’t my first choice for the nomination, but he’s gained quite a few points for quickly answering a stranger’s question.

2016 will turn on three key issues: national security, the economy, and Obamacare. The candidate who has the best positions for all three will get my vote.

Footnote:
(1) Or their staff, let’s be realistic, though I’ve read that Cruz and Rubio handle their own Twitter accounts. Regardless, Cruz’s was the only campaign to give an answer.


King v Burwell: The SCOTUS saves #Obamacare, again.

June 25, 2015
x

These guys would probably do a better job.

Sigh.

The Supreme Court decision most everyone was waiting for, a ruling in King v. Burwell about the legality of Obamacare subsidies for insurance purchasers on federal exchanges, has just come out (PDF).

Spoiler: the administration won. The anti-constitutional monstrosity lives on.

I haven’t much to add to a legal analysis of this decision. For that, I recommend you read William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, whose post on the decision will be updated as the day goes by.

I will say, however, that this is the second time a majority lead by Chief Justice Roberts has twisted and tortured the plain meaning of words and the processes of reason in order to achieve a desired result –preserving the Affordable Care Act. In the first,  he beat the square peg of the Obamacare penalties for not having insurance into the round hole of constitutional logic by declaring them simultaneously a tax and a fine. The goddess Reason wept.

Now, however, he and his colleagues on the majority have magically decided that the obvious meaning of the plain language of the law, that subsidies are only available through an exchange established by a state, is somehow ambiguous. To top it off, they ignored the unambiguous evidence offered by Jonathan Gruber, one of the key architects of the ACA, that the intent was to use the lack of federal subsidies to coerce states into establishing exchanges. Law and legal reasoning be damned, the Court’s role was to save Obamacare:

Given that the text is ambiguous, we must turn to the broader structure of the Act to determine the meaning of Section 36B. “A provision that may seem ambiguous in isolation is often clarified by the remainder of the statutory scheme . . . because only one of the permissible meanings produces a substantive effect that is compatible with the rest of the law.” United Sav. Assn. of Tex. v. Timbers
of Inwood Forest Associates, Ltd., 484 U. S. 365, 371 (1988). Here, the statutory scheme compels us to reject petitioners’ interpretation because it would destabilize the individual insurance market in any State with a Federal Exchange, and likely create the very “death spirals” that Congress designed the Act to avoid. [at 15]

In fact, we know this is not true. The text is not ambiguous, and the Democrats knew the “death spiral” was in there. Reasoning from Gruber’s own words, they designed things so it would be a Sword of Damocles hanging over the head of opponents of the ACA. “Nice insurance industry you have there. Be a shame if you didn’t agree to set up an exchange and the whole thing crashed for a lack of subsidies.” Trouble is, more states than expected refused to set up an exchange, so it was the Fed that had to illegally provide subsidies to prevent a death spiral. As Professor Jacobson said on Twitter:

This is disgusting and disheartening, but not wholly unexpected. After the last Obamacare decision, it wasn’t likely a Court majority would cut the legs out from under the ACA, no matter what. That is left for us to do in 2017, when a Republican Congress has a Republican president — and us ready to hold their feet to the fire to repeal this damned thing.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Justice Scalia’s flaming dissent, per Legal Insurrection:

“We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”

Indeed.


Bookshelf update: Sharyl Attkisson’s “Stonewalled”

June 4, 2015

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, Sharyl Attkisson’s “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.”

book cover attkisson stonewalled

 

Attkisson is an award-winning investigative journalist who spent roughly 20 years with CBS before leaving in 2014. For her determined pursuit of the truth and information government and corporate officials would rather keep hidden, she’s been called a “bulldog,” a term she regards as a compliment. While Stonewalled deals with the scandals and evasions of the Obama administration and its allies, Attkisson has a reputation as a bipartisan bulldog — a pain in the tuchus to Democrats and Republicans, alike. This is what a good journalist should be.

I’m about half-way through Stonewalled and, so far, it’s been equal parts enjoyable, infuriating, and even frightening. Before discussing scandals such as Fast and Furious and the Obamacare rollout, as well as the almost equally scandalous supine attitude of mainstream journalism toward the administration, Attkisson opens with the story of her discovery that her work and personal computers, and her phone, had been hacked by a government agency during her investigation into the Benghazi massacre. Though she hasn’t yet identified in the book who she believes is responsible, I’ll note that she has filed suit against  the Department of Justice and the US Postal Service. Discovery, as they say should be interesting.

I’m reading her book in Kindle format; it’s also in soft (forthcoming) and hardcover. Regarding the Kindle edition, I’ve spotted just one lone typo and no formatting problems, which is very good for an e-book. Her writing style is straightforward, almost Hemingway-esque in its directness. If Ms. Attkisson reveals any ax to grind, it’s her firm belief that information paid for with taxpayer dollars belongs to the public, not the government.

I’ll post a review when I’ve finished.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. Wouldn’t you?


#Obamacare Chronicles: Ohio Medicaid expansion costs $3 billion in first 15 months

April 30, 2015
Kasich 2016?

Kasich 2016?

Well, this should be a big help to Governor Kasich’s potential presidential campaign. Nothing like a budget-busting entitlement to advertise one’s bona fides as a fiscal conservative:

Americans’ tax burden is already $3 billion heavier because of Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare.

By putting more able-bodied, working-age childless adults on Medicaid than Kasich projected, Obamacare expansion is reducing incentives to work and threatening traditional Medicaid recipients’ access to care faster and at greater cost than anticipated.

After Kasich expanded Medicaid unilaterally, a state panel approved $2.56 billion in Obamacare spending for the expansion’s first 18 months. The money was meant to last until July, but it ran out in February.

Kasich’s Obamacare expansion cost $323 million in March — 84 percent greater than estimates revised just six months earlier.

Using monthly figures released by the Ohio Department of Medicaid, the Republican governor’s Obamacare expansion cost slightly more than $3 billion from January 2014 through March 2015.

Kasich’s Obamacare expansion is on track to cost more than $4 billion by the end of June.

With federal taxpayers on the hook for all benefit costs and Ohio facing a growing state share in 2017, Obamacare expansion may soon consume 10 percent of Ohio’s budget.

Governor Kasich rammed through the Medicaid expansion after the legislature declined to do so. In other words, placing his will above that of the people’s elected representatives. And what has his superior judgment brought the people? Costs far higher than expected. Right now, they’re spread across the backs of taxpayers in all 50 states. (Gee, thanks, Governor.) In a few years, however, the federal subsidies decrease and an increasing portion will be born solely by the taxpayers of each state. As the article points out, that could amount to 10 percent of Ohio’s budget, just for Medicaid. (And if the history of government entitlements is any indication, that figure is low.)

Massive cost overruns and a huge open-ended burden on state finances. Heck of a calling card for a spot on the Republican ticket, John.


#Obamacare Chronicles: two-thirds of subsidy recipients had to repay the government

April 28, 2015
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

This should make some people mad:

Nearly two in three Americans who bought subsidized health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges this year had to pay some of the federal dollars back, according to new data from H&R Block.

That’s because they presumably collected more federal aid than their income qualified them for. In that case, consumers must either pay some of it back or — in most cases — the IRS will subtract it from their tax refund.

Policymakers have expressed concern that low-income people could struggle with paying back the subsidies — or suffer if their tax refunds are greatly reduced because of overpayments.

The average amount consumers owed back to the government was $729, cutting their potential tax refunds by almost one-third, said the tax preparation company.

The article also mentions that 25% of Obamacare subsidy receivers received larger refunds because their income was less than expected. Good for them.

BUT… It’s the angry people who will remember this: they were forced to give up policies and medical providers they liked and that met their needs for more expensive policies and more restricted networks that didn’t meet the needs they had and met “needs” they didn’t have. (1) Then they were forced to pay even more, giving back some of the tax refund (2) they thought they were getting, maybe even had already spent. And this will happen again in 2016, an election year.

Angry people have long memories.

Footnote:
(1) Like maternity coverage for elderly couples. Really.
(2) I know you have trouble with the concept, progressives, but the money belongs to the one who earned it. The government just takes it. And so a refund is just giving a person back his own money — without interest.


Kasich for President? Er… No, thanks.

April 24, 2015
Kasich 2016?

Kasich 2016?

There’s something about the Ohio governor I just don’t like, and I think the words “sanctimony” and “arrogance” have something to do with it. In The Washington Examiner, Philip Klein explains why limited-government conservatives should say “no” to John Kasich:

A 2012 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court made it easier for states to reject Obamacare’s costly expansion of Medicaid — as many governors prudently chose to do.

But in February 2013, despite campaigning on opposition to Obamacare, Kasich crumbled under pressure from hospital lobbyists who supported the measure, and endorsed the expansion. When his legislature opposed him, Kasich bypassed lawmakers and imposed the expansion through a separate panel — an example of executive overreach worthy of Obama.

Kasich cloaked his cynical move in the language of Christianity, and, just like a liberal demagogue, he portrayed those with principled objections to spending more taxpayer money on a failing program as being heartless.

“Why is that some people don’t get it?” Kasich asked rhetorically at an October 2013 event at the Cleveland Clinic, which lobbied the administration heavily for the expansion so that it could access a stream of money from federal taxpayers. “Is it because they’re hard-hearted or cold-hearted? It’s probably because they don’t understand the problem because they have never walked in somebody’s shoes.”

Ugh. That’s a cheap shot worthy of Obama, Reid, and Schumer. It couldn’t possibly be that one opposes the expansion of Medicaid because it represents a looming fiscal disaster for states that do enlarge the program. It couldn’t be because Medicaid has been shown to be no better than having no insurance at all, and that it increases the strain on emergency rooms. Nor could one reasonably object on principled limited-government, constitutional grounds, since the entire Obamacare project represents an anti-constitutional monstrosity.

Nope. It had to be because you’re a callous monster. But thank God John Kasich has the heart you lack, you Grinch.

There’s another problem, too. It’s that Kasich has, like Obama, shown the instincts of a tyrant. No, he’s not had anyone carted off to camps nor had himself crowned king, but his decision to expand Obamacare slapped in the face the principle that laws should be written by the people elected by The People to write them. In other words, the legislature. Article 2, section 1 of the Ohio Constitution reads, in part:

The legislative power of the state shall be vested in a general assembly consisting of a senate and house of representatives but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose to the general assembly laws and amendments to the constitution, and to adopt or reject the same at the polls on a referendum vote as hereinafter provided.

In other words, the power to write, amend, and repeal laws was granted by the people of Ohio to the legislature and reserved to themselves — none was granted to the governor. Yet, when the elected representatives of the people declined to expand Medicaid, Ohio’s chief executive –not “chief lawmaker”– forced his way around them to do it anyway. Like the old saying goes, it may have been legal, but it sure wasn’t right. That’s the “tyrannical instinct” I was talking about.

And if that gives you an uncomfortable feeling that reminds you of the shenanigans used to pass Obamacare, you’re not just imagining things. Having experienced enough of that under Obama, I don’t want to go through it again when “President Kasich” decides he knows best.

Thanks, Governor, but I’ll pass.


The Free Market Works in Health Care…When It’s Allowed

April 9, 2015

Best thing we can do to rein in healthcare costs is a) Get rid of Obamacare and b) return insurance to its traditional roe of protection against catastrophe.

International Liberty

I’ve often complained that government-created third-party payer is the main problem with America’s healthcare system, and I was making that point well before Obamacare was imposed upon the country.

The issue is very straightforward. In a genuine free market, people pay “out of pocket” for routine expenses. And they rely on insurance only in cases where they may face large, unexpected costs.

But in our current healthcare system, thanks to Medicare, Medicaid, and the tax code’s healthcare exclusion, most of us buy services with other people’s money and that dramatically distorts incentives.

Here’s some of what I wrote about this messed-up approach back in 2009.

…our pre-paid health care system is somewhat akin to going to an all-you-can-eat restaurant. We have an incentive to over-consume since we’ve already paid. Except this analogy is insufficient. When we go to all-you-can-eat restaurants…

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#Obamacare chronicles: People refusing to pay the fine?

February 26, 2015
"Revenge of the angry mob"

“Revenge of the angry mob”

President Jefferson once famously said:

“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

And maybe that “good thing” has started?

Taxpayers are already telling their accountants they plan to stiff the IRS on the Obamacare tax, saying they figure the chances the agency comes after them for a few hundred bucks are pretty slim, and it makes sense to take the risk.

Still other taxpayers are recoiling when they find out they owe far more than the $95 minimum penalty for not having insurance in 2014, said Christopher Wittich, an accountant in Minnesota.

“And that’s a big problem for them,” he said. “They don’t have 200 bucks.”

Taxpayers are facing the first round of penalties under Obamacare’s “individual mandate,” which requires most Americans to prove they have health insurance coverage or else pay the tax that the Supreme Court ruled made the law constitutional.

But Indiana accountant Scott Frick said one of his clients, told he would have to fork over $850 for going without insurance last year, thought about the IRS and decided not to pay, just to “see what happens.”

The episodes raise questions for the revenue agency, which is trying to figure out just how far it’s prepared to go to collect the Obamacare tax — and if future administrations will enforce it at all.

As I pointed out in another post, these people just finding out their 2014 penalty Shared Responsibility Payment may already owe for 2015. Surprise!

Also, I had forgotten that, as the article points out later on, the IRS is forbidden from laying criminal charges or liens against people who don’t pay the penalty. All they can do is lower their future refunds. You can bet there will be many people willing to pay that price, rather than shell out for the more expensive “affordable care” policies.

Regardless, this refusal to pay strikes me as a good thing, a sign that our spirit isn’t dead yet. I hope it catches on, and that everyone refuses to pay.

Somewhere, Mr. Jefferson smiles.

via Michael Walsh


#Obamacare Chronicles: If you paid a penalty for 2014, you may already owe one for 2015

February 24, 2015
"2014 voters"

Paid their Obamacare penalty.

I wrote before about how the Democrats are increasingly frightened of the angry mob that might rise against them once the non-coverage penalties in Obamacare start to be enforced. People who didn’t obey the mandate in 2014 will likely find themselves with smaller refunds than expected, or maybe even owing Uncle Sam. That makes for unhappy voters, who will be looking for someone to hurt. Probably the congresscritters (All Democrats) who voted for Obamacare.

But wait! There’s more!

There’s another problem. The administration’s enrollment period just ended on February 15. So if people haven’t signed up for Obamacare already, they’ll be stuck paying the higher penalty for 2015.

By the way, Democrats don’t like to call the Obamacare penalty a penalty; its official name is the Shared Responsibility Payment. But the fact is, the lawmakers’ intent in levying the fines was to make it so painful for the average American to ignore Obamacare that he or she will ultimately knuckle under and do as instructed.

Except that it’s easier to inflict theoretical pain than actual pain. Tax filing season is enlightening many Americans for the first time about the “mechanics involved” in Obamacare’s fee structure, Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on December 29. “Many taxpayers will see the financial consequences of their decision not to enroll in health insurance for the first time when they make the Shared Responsibility Payment.”

And the penalties get even larger in 2016 for those recalcitrant serfs who still refuse to obey their Betters in DC. Estimates of those range from 3-6 million people.

So Congressmen Doggett, Levin, and “Baghdad Jim” McDermott implored the administration to create a supplemental “open enrollment period” so people who didn’t buy by the 15th could do so and escape the 2015 “Shared Responsibility Payment.” And so the Democrats could escape the angry mob. This exemption comes with a stringent qualification standard, however: You have to be willing to say “I didn’t know,” and you will be magically cleansed of your sins.

The administration has done this before, granting exemptions and delays ex machina for the employer mandate with no legal authority to do so. (The ACA is very clear about its deadlines.) Now it’s an extension for open enrollment. Let’s be frank: none of these illegal waivers were granted because of sympathy for the victims. Their sole purpose is to help Democrats avoid the consequences of ramming this anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law down the throat of a nation that didn’t want it. By delaying the mandates and punishments past election day or simply granting exemptions to the latest group to complain (Oh wait! Here’s another enrollment period!), they hope to avoid the electoral whipping they so richly deserve.

That didn’t work in 2010 or 2014. Per Byron York again, no matter how it’s delayed, the voters hate the individual mandate:

The individual mandate has always been extremely unpopular. In December 2014, just a couple of months ago, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 64 percent of those surveyed don’t like the mandate. The level of disapproval has been pretty consistent since the law was passed.

And there’s very little chance the individual mandate’s approval numbers will improve, now that millions of Americans are getting a taste of what it really means. They’re learning an essential truth of Obamacare, which is that if you don’t sign up, the IRS will make you pay.

It’s not going to work for them in 2016, either.

PS: Oh, and since we’re talking about angry mobs, let us not forget the IRS sending the wrong tax information to nearly 1,000,000 people receiving Obamacare subsidies.


#Obamacare chronicles: government sends wrong tax information to nearly 1,000,000 people

February 20, 2015
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

What was it Ronald Reagan said? Oh yeah:

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”

Happy to help, America:

About 800,000 HealthCare.gov customers got the wrong tax information from the government, the Obama administration said Friday, and officials are asking those affected to delay filing their 2014 returns.

The tax mistake is a self-inflicted injury that comes on the heels of what President Barack Obama had touted as a successful enrollment season, with about 11.4 million people signed up.

California, which is running its own insurance market, on Thursday announced a similar problem affecting about 100,000 people in that state.

The errors mean that nearly 1 million people may have to wait longer to get their income tax refunds this year. And they could also affect the size of those refunds.

Another 50,000 or so who already filed may have to resubmit their returns.

My late father, a sharp man in many ways, once taught me something about handling employees:

“You can do almost anything you want to people who work for you, but you never, ever screw with their money.”

The same holds true for government and taxpayers; the Fed and California just broke that rule big-time.

Consider: We are all required by law (1) to have health insurance. If we do not, we will be punished. If our insurance is not provided by an employer, we are required, again by law, to buy it on the Obamacare exchanges. In order to afford those policies, now more expensive thanks to the “Affordable” Care Act, the government offers subsidies, the amount of which is determined by various factors, such as income and number of children. And that information has to be provided to the IRS on our tax forms, including whatever information the government provides on these new “1095” forms.  And that information in turn helps determine whether we get a refund, what size it is, or if we wind up owing the government money.

And the government gave out the wrong information.

To a million people. smiley d'oh!

It’s bad enough that people who wanted to file their return and who have almost most certainly scheduled their appointments with overworked tax-prep people will now have to delay their filings (For how long? Can they reschedule with the accountant?), but what about those who have already filed? Now they have no idea whether they get a refund or owe Uncle Sam — surprise!!

And you can bet a good portion of these one million taxpayers, most of them voters, are going to be royally ticked off about this and looking for someone to blame as we get into election season. (2)

Dad was right.

via Iowahawk:

Footnotes:
(1) This anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law, that is.
(2) That would be the Democratic Party. Not a single Republican voted for this. In fact, we were screaming like Cassandra that this was a fiasco waiting to happen. Please remember that on election day.


#Obamacare: Democrats scared law they wrote might actually be enforced

February 16, 2015

satire train wreck

And well they should be. Obamacare was structured so that you paid a fine fee tax (1) if you didn’t have the required insurance. That fine was trivial for the first year, but scheduled to go up each year for the next two years: from $95 in 2014 to $325 this year to as much as $1,100 next year. That rule is now coming into effect, so…

Cue Democrat panic:

The three are Michigan’s Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, and Lloyd Doggett of Texas. All worked to help steer Obama’s law through rancorous congressional debates from 2009-2010.

The lawmakers say they are concerned that many of their constituents will find out about the penalties after it’s already too late for them to sign up for coverage, since open enrollment ended Sunday.

That means they could wind up uninsured for another year, only to owe substantially higher fines in 2016. The fines are collected through the income tax system.

This year is the first time ordinary Americans will experience the complicated interactions between the health care law and taxes. Based on congressional analysis, tax preparation giant H&R Block says roughly 4 million uninsured people will pay penalties.

When they wrote this anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law, Reps. Levin, McDermott, and Doggett, along with all the other Democrats who voted for it (2), had fooled themselves into thinking that it would become so popular that the number of people subject to a fine would be de minimis.

Four million angry voters is not what they imagined, though it seems as if they have started to have nightmares about it, since they’re begging Obama to use his pen and phone (and the authority he does not have) to rewrite the law –again– so Democrats can avoid the consequences of their arrogance and stupidity.

Trouble is (for them), I’m not so sure President Obama cares all that much anymore what happens to Democratic congressman. He doesn’t have to worry about reelection, now does he?

And, oh yes, these voters will be angry, and Republicans will be sure to remind them just who visited this hurt on them.

Like elections, votes in Congress have consequences.

via Conservative Intelligence Briefing

Footnotes:
(1) Only John Roberts understands which.
(2) And not a single Republican, let us be clear. This mess isn’t our fault at all.


Welcome to tax season, now prepare to give your #Obamacare subsidy back

February 2, 2015
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

This item has been sitting in my files for a while (1), but, since we’re deep into tax season, it’s still relevant — especially so for people relying on that federal subsidy to help pay for their “affordable” health care:

As many as 3.4 million people who received Obamacare subsidies may owe refunds to the federal government, according to an estimate by a tax preparation firm.

H&R Block is estimating that as many as half of the 6.8 million people who received insurance premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act benefited from subsidies that were too large, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

“The ACA is going to result in more confusion for existing clients, and many taxpayers may well be very disappointed by getting less money and possibly even owing money,” the president of a tax preparation and education school told the Journal.

While the Affordable Care Act fines those who don’t have health insurance, it also provides subsidies for people making up to four times the federal poverty line ($46,680).

But the subsidies are based on past tax returns, so many people may be receiving too much, according to Vanderbilt University assistant professor John Graves, who projects the average subsidy is $208 too high, the Journal reports.

If, like a lot of people, you’re used to getting some sort of a refund, you probably already have an idea of how much you expect and how you plan to spend it. Imagine then how happy these many millions of people will be when they’re told they’re either getting less of a refund, or that they in fact owe money. And, on top of that, their subsidy for the next year will almost certainly be lower, so even more of their money will go to the insurance companies by force of law for coverage that probably isn’t as good as they had before, or at least isn’t what was promised.

That, my friends, is a recipe for angry voters. And, oh, there’s a presidential election warming up, too. Fancy that.

If anything good comes of this fiasco, it will probably be the hard-learned lesson that government is poorly equipped to do more than a certain few tasks and running a huge, massively complicated healthcare system isn’t among them.

Call it another “teachable moment.”

Footnote:
(1) Ancient by Internet standards — a whole month!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Sweet, sweet schadenfreude: Harvard faculty who championed #Obamacare angry for being subject to Obamacare

January 5, 2015
"Another Obamacare supporter learns the truth."

“Another Obamacare supporter learns the truth.”

Via Charles Cooke, this is too delicious for words:

For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar.

Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the heart of the 378-year-old university, voted overwhelmingly in November to oppose changes that would require them and thousands of other Harvard employees to pay more for health care. The university says the increases are in part a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which many Harvard professors championed.

The faculty vote came too late to stop the cost increases from taking effect this month, and the anger on campus remains focused on questions that are agitating many workplaces: How should the burden of health costs be shared by employers and employees? If employees have to bear more of the cost, will they skimp on medically necessary care, curtail the use of less valuable services, or both?

What’s the old saying? “Be careful what you wish for; you might get it!”

Thomas Sowell has observed that the problem with letting government regulate so much is that the regulators seldom have to live with the consequences of their decisions. It’s the ordinary people who suffer. The same can be said for academics at Harvard (and other universities): state-run healthcare sounds great in theory –the libraries are full of books and articles endorsing it, as well as the conversation in faculty lounges– but make them live by the rules they advocated and they scream “UNFAIR!!”

What they’re being asked to do, of course, is what many of us already do: pay an increased but still small portion of their healthcare costs, which are going up for the university. This, in turn has caused a ruckus, though Harvard argues that provisions of the Affordable Care Act for them to take these steps:

In Harvard’s health care enrollment guide for 2015, the university said it “must respond to the national trend of rising health care costs, including some driven by health care reform,” otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act. The guide said that Harvard faced “added costs” because of provisions in the health care law that extend coverage for children up to age 26, offer free preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies and, starting in 2018, add a tax on high-cost insurance, known as the Cadillac tax.

The quoted complaints are a treat, too:

Richard F. Thomas, a Harvard professor of classics and one of the world’s leading authorities on Virgil, called the changes “deplorable, deeply regressive, a sign of the corporatization of the university.”

Mary D. Lewis, a professor who specializes in the history of modern France and has led opposition to the benefit changes, said they were tantamount to a pay cut. “Moreover,” she said, “this pay cut will be timed to come at precisely the moment when you are sick, stressed or facing the challenges of being a new parent.”

You should take them seriously, because PhD’s in Classics and History are experts in the economics of health care. Apparently they need a refresher in one of the basic rules of economics: When you increase a business or other institution’s cost, it will deal with it in one of four ways. It will cease operation, deciding the expenses are too great; it will absorb the cost; it offset the cost by reducing other expenses; or it will offset the cost by passing all or a portion of it to the consumer. Harvard has chosen this last option. What, really, did these degree-bearing men and women expect?

I know, I know. A continued ride on the gravy train, because they’re educators, damn it!

On the other hand, Professor Lewis is right: this is tantamount to a pay cut, something many of us have experienced thanks to the skyrocketing premiums and massively increased deductibles under our new “affordable” system.

Why should Ivy League academics be exempt?

Congratulations, folks! You got what you asked for!

smiley popcorn

 


#Obamacare: Good news! Your tax dollars pay for foreign diplomats’ health care!

December 11, 2014
x

Obamacare loophole writer in action

Reason number eleventy-billion why they should have read the danged bill. Apparently a loophole allows foreign diplomats and UN employees to receive premium subsidies for their insurance:

Congress is considering a new bill aimed at stopping foreign diplomats stationed in the United States from receiving taxpayer subsidized health coverage benefits under Obamacare, according to a copy of the bill filed Wednesday.

Foreign diplomats and United Nations employees posted in the United States are permitted to receive premium tax credits and other perks paid for by the U.S. taxpayer under a loophole in President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.

The Obama administration confirmed earlier this year that the loophole existed, prompting outrage on Capitol Hill among lawmakers who argue that the U.S. taxpayer should not foot the bill for foreign diplomats’ health care costs.

House lawmakers moved on Wednesday to close the loophole by offering a new bill to designate foreign diplomats as ineligible for tax credits and other cost-sharing reductions under Obamacare, according to a copy of the bill authored by Reps. Ed Royce (R., Calif.) and Dave Camp (R., Mich.)

The legislation would require Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees implementation of Obamacare, to ensure that no foreign diplomats are receiving such benefits.

I think Moscow can pay for its own diplomats’ insurance, don’t you?

Of course, given the rolling disaster that is Obamacare, maybe encouraging foreign diplomats to sign up for it could be considered an act of war.


Shocker: #Obamacare not shielding consumers from costs

December 1, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

There’s an interesting article at Hot Air in which Ed Morrissey interprets the results of a Gallup survey that, contra the intentions of Obamacare’s author’s, many people are still putting off medical care, including for serious conditions, because of cost. Bear in mind that one of the goals of the new system was to keep people from having to make choices about their care based on cost. Instead, in some demographics, the numbers of those putting off care has gone up:

However, the percentage of those who put off care due to cost issues actually rose among those with private insurance — by almost double digits, in fact:

“Among Americans with varying types of medical coverage (including no coverage), uninsured Americans are still the most likely to report having put off medical treatment because of cost. More than half of the uninsured (57%) have put off treatment, compared with 34% with private insurance and 22% with Medicare or Medicaid. However, the percentage of Americans with private health insurance who report putting off medical treatment because of cost has increased from 25% in 2013 to 34% in 2014.”

(Emphasis added)

Now, why is this? Ed offers some speculations:

There are a few possible reasons, with the truth probably in combination of some:

  • The so-called recovery isn’t actually boosting workers the way Democrats claim.
  • Forced carriage of health insurance takes too big of a bite out of workers’ disposable income.
  • The health insurance that consumers get has too large of a deductible for the affordable premiums, or …
  • … it has inadequate coverage for the conditions, while the premiums make it impossible to get treatment on their own.
  • Reimbursement rates and narrowed provider choices make it difficult to get treatment.

I’d say the third and fifth in the list are the big reasons for people who already have private insurance are putting off care. Search through the Obamacare archives here and you’ll find reports of sky-high deductibles that make the “affordable” premiums laughable, and newly-limited networks forcing people to pay through the nose if they want to get treatment that used to be covered, or to see the doctor they preferred (1), who now isn’t in their network. (If they’ll take your insurance at all.)

This is another example of why, assuming they can come up with a workable replacement, the Republicans will be able to repeal Obamacare in 2017, unlike other entitlements: it has become a giant pain in the tuchus for millions of people (most of whom never wanted it anyway), and they will demand that the Republican congress and new Republican (I hope) president make that pain go away.

Footnote:
(1) Per the President’s promise, repeated ad nauseam over the course of several years. People remember that, just as they remember the senators who helped sell them that bill of goods. Just ask the (former) Democrat senators who had to run for reelection in the last midterms.


TURLEY AGREES TO SERVE AS LEAD COUNSEL FOR HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IN CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE

November 18, 2014

This is a very interesting development. Turley is a leading liberal lawyer and a supporter of some form of national health care, but has also been a strong voice criticizing Obama’s unconstitutional usurpations. I still think seeking judicial refereeing of a political fight between the other two branches is a weak move, but I’ll be nonetheless interested to hear his arguments.

JONATHAN TURLEY

800px-Capitol_Building_Full_ViewAs many on this blog are aware, I have previously testified, written, and litigated in opposition to the rise of executive power and the countervailing decline in congressional power in our tripartite system. I have also spent years encouraging Congress, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, to more actively defend its authority, including seeking judicial review in separation of powers conflicts. For that reason, it may come as little surprise this morning that I have agreed to represent the United States House of Representatives in its challenge of unilateral, unconstitutional actions taken by the Obama Administration with respect to implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is an honor to represent the institution in this historic lawsuit and to work with the talented staff of the House General Counsel’s Office. As in the past, this posting is meant to be transparent about my representation as well as my need…

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