UH OH: Obamacare Architect Made The Same ‘Mistake’ More Than Once

Obamacare Architect Says AGAIN That Subsidies Were Only Supposed To Go To State Exchanges

Sarah Hurtubise

While Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber has brushed aside a video of himself arguing that Obamacare subsidies are only allowable in state-run exchanges as a “speak-o” — or verbal typo — a second audio tape has now emerged of Gruber making the very same comments yet again.

“That is really the ultimate threat — will people understand that gee, if your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits to be delivered to your citizens,” Gruber says in the audio clip, resurfaced by Morgan Richmond and John Sexton. “So that’s the other threat, is will states do what they need to do to set it up.”

Gruber made the comments in a public appearance at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco in January 2012. Gruber’s argument in the clip is even stronger that only state-run exchanges will be given premium tax credit subsidies.

At issue is a phrase written repeatedly in the Affordable Care Act that allows premium tax credit subsidies only for exchanges “established by the state.” Two appeals courts split earlier this week on whether the phrase makes subsidies in the 36 states that didn’t create their own exchanges illegal. Gruber, a chief author of the law, has repeatedly called the cases “nutty.”

But the audio recording is the second to emerge this week that shows that before the lawsuits were brought against the federal exchanges subsidies, Gruber appeared to believe that only states that ran their own exchanges would receive the payments.

In response, Gruber said his comments were a “just a speak-o — you know, like a typo.” (RELATED: Obamacare Architects Claims Comments Were Just A ‘Typo’)

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/07/25/obamacare-architect-says-again-that-subsidies-were-only-supposed-to-go-to-state-exchanges/#ixzz38W6Kilmb

BREAKING: House Committee Votes to Officially Approve Lawsuit Against Obama

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President Obama has blatantly and admittedly abused his Executive power. There has been a growing sense that he must be stopped, and the balance of power between the Executive and Legislative branches restored.

Speaker of the House John Boehner announced last month that he intended to sue Obama over his “abuse of power”.

A House Committee has been working on the potential lawsuit, and has narrowed down the scope to just Obamacare, namely Obama’s numerous unilateral delays and changes to the law.

Obamacare Architect Argued Years Ago That States Without Exchanges Can’t Get Subsidies

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Sarah Hurtubise

One of Obamacare’s authors said in 2012 that states that don’t set up their own Obamacare exchanges can’t offer residents subsidies, throwing heavy weight behind the argument that the billions in subsidies to federally-run exchanges are illegal.

Earlier this week two appeals courts heard arguments that the Affordable Care Act’s language doesn’t allow for subsidies in federally-run exchanges but answered the question differently. While the D.C. District Court of Appeals first found that the subsidies are illegal for the 36 states that didn’t create their own exchanges, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said otherwise. (RELATED: Second Federal Court Rushes To Save Obamacare From Devastating Ruling)

But Jonathan Gruber, an economics professor at MIT who worked closely with the Obama administration to create and draft the health-care law, said as far back as 2012 that states that didn’t step up to make their own exchanges wouldn’t be able to offer premium subsidies.

“In the law, it says if the states don’t provide [exchanges], the federal backstop will,” Gruber said in a newly unearthed 2012 presentation. “The federal government has been sort of slow in putting out its backstop, I think partly because they want to sort of squeeze the states to do it. I think what’s important to remember politically about this, is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.”

Gruber’s argument is important: the federal government wants to pressure states into building their exchanges, or they’ll be the ones responsible for keeping subsidies away from their constituents.

“But your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying to your citizens, you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges, and that they’ll do it. But you know, once again, the politics can get ugly around this.”

Obamacare supporters have argued that providing subsidies through the federal exchange is what Congress intended to do, but admit that there was a “drafting error” that called it into question.

But Gruber’s two-year-old explanation appears to back the plaintiffs’ case. Gruber was hired by the Obama administration to craft the law — and even worked with congressional staff to draft the legislation itself. And he suggests not that the law’s exclusion of federal subsidies is a “drafting error,” but a fully-intended incentive structure in order to convince states to take up the burden of creating their own state exchanges.

That said, since the lawsuits cropped up, Gruber has argued extensively in favor of the Obama administration in both cases regarding federal subsidies and joined amicus briefs to support the federal government’s position. These days, Gruber says it’s “absurd” that Congress didn’t mean to apply the subsidies to federally-run exchange states as well.

The D.C. circuit’s conclusion relied on the wording of the law: subsidies go to “exchanges established by the State,” choosing not to try to assume what Congress intended. Meanwhile, the Fourth Circuit’s decision that federal subsidies are permissible rested on their understanding that the law’s language is “ambiguous” and that Congress’s intent to provide subsidies to the whole country is clear.

The plaintiffs who brought the case, the court wrote, may not “rely on our help to deny to millions of Americans desperately-needed health insurance through a tortured, nonsensical construction of a federal statute whose manifest purpose, as revealed by the wholeness and coherence of its text and structure, could not be more clear.”

But the law’s architect apparently stating that Congress intended to withhold the subsidies in 2012 — before any court cases had put the subsidies in danger — suggests that congressional intent in this case may be anything but clear.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/07/25/obamacare-architect-argued-years-ago-that-states-without-exchanges-cant-get-subsidies/#ixzz38V3r3H00

GAO Launched an Obamacare Sting Operation—and Almost All Fake Insurance Applications Were Approved

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The report suggests the health care law’s eligibility verification system isn’t working.

By Sophie Novack
Follow on TwitterJuly 23, 2014

An undercover operation found that the majority of fake Obamacare applications submitted were approved by the health law’s enrollment system.

Fake applicants were able to get subsidized insurance coverage in 11 of 18 attempts, according to a report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. The agency conducted the sting operation to test the strength of the Affordable Care Act’s eligibility-verification system.

The findings will be discussed at a House Ways and Means hearing Wednesday. They were revealed in an advance copy of the testimony from Seto Bagdoyan, head of GAO’s Forensic Audits and Investigative Service, provided to the Associated Press.

The undercover investigators created fake identities by inventing Social Security numbers, income, and citizenship, and by counterfeiting documents.

Eleven of 12 fake online or telephone applications were approved, according to Bagdoyan. Five of six phone applications were successful, with the exception of one caller who declined to give a Social Security number. Six online applications were initially blocked by the verification system, but the investigators were able to find a workaround by going through the call center.

“The total amount of these credits for the 11 approved applications is about $2,500 monthly or about $30,000 annually,” Bagdoyan said, according to a report from NBC. “We also obtained cost-sharing reduction subsidies, according to marketplace representatives, in at least nine of the 11 cases.”

The investigators did not have the same luck with in-person assistors: They were unable to get help in five of six cases, and the last was told by the assistor that the income reported was too high for subsidized coverage.

The accuracy of the health law’s eligibility verification system has been an ongoing concern among lawmakers and officials, and Republicans have repeatedly pointed to it as evidence that the law leaves the government vulnerable to fraud.

The GAO investigation was requested by several Republican senators and representatives before the insurance exchanges launched in the fall, according to The Washington Post.

The administration, meanwhile, maintains that it is working to improve the process.

“We are examining this report carefully and will work with GAO to identify additional strategies to strengthen our verification processes,” said administration spokesman Aaron Albright.

Poor baby: Rep. Kristi Noem sums up how the national debt affects you in one photo

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BY: Blake Seitz July 22, 2014 | 5:21 pm

Deficit hawks like to say that reckless government spending is mortgaging our children’s future. Rarely do they capture this as vividly as Republican Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

Noem sent a lighthearted tweet Tuesday about an unphotogenic moment shared between President Obama and a baby that was retweeted more than 100 times.

As the superimposed text explains, the individual share of the U.S.’s $17.6 trillion national debt is slightly less than $55,300, and both figures are expected to grow. The 2014 annual deficit is expected to clock in at $492 billion.
The good news: $492 billion is much smaller than the record $1.4 trillion deficit in 2009, a jaw-dropping amount that was the perfect storm of shrinking tax revenues combined with expensive wars and bailouts. In fact, a $492 billion deficit would be below average as a share of the economy than deficits over the period 1974 to 2013.

Now the bad news: The Congressional Budget Office projects that deficits will increase again starting in 2015, reaching the ominous $1 trillion-per-year mark in 2022 — and then staying there. The CBO blames an “aging population, rising health care costs, an expansion of federal subsidies for health insurance and growing interest payments on federal debt” for the rise.

Rep. Kristi Noem (Photo: AP)Even worse news: As others have noted, the $17 trillion figure does not adequately capture the extent of our penury. The government’s unfunded liabilities — that is, the amount it has promised to pay in the future, but will not have the revenue to cover — is in the tens of trillions.
And, as the Hudson Institute’s Chris DeMuth points out, most of this debt will be accrued to fund entitlement program transfers, not public-good projects, which means it will have a low economic return on investment.

In other words, things are grim. With apologies to the baby, we laugh so we don’t cry.

White House To Ignore Court Ruling, Keep Handing Out Obamacare Subsidies

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Sarah Hurtubise

The Obama administration will continue handing out Obamacare subsidies to federal exchange customers despite a federal court’s ruling Tuesday that the subsidies are illegal.

A D.C. Court of Appeals panel ruled Tuesday morning that customers in the 36 states that didn’t establish their own exchange and use HealthCare.gov instead cannot be given premium tax credits, according to the text of the Affordable Care Act itself. (RELATED: Federal Court Takes Down Obamacare: Subsidies In Federal Exchange Are Illegal)

But the White House said in response that it will continue handing out the billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that while the case continues to be battled out in the courts, the administration will continue to dole out billions in tax credits to federally-run exchange customers.

“It’s important for people all across the country to understand that this ruling does not have any practical impact on their ability to continue to receive tax credits right now,” Earnest said in a press briefing Tuesday.

A three-judge panel issued the ruling Tuesday, concluding 2-1 that the federal subsidies are illegal. The Department of Justice is seeking an en banc ruling from the appeals court, which would require all judges in the court to rule on the case. Eleven judges on the court would hear the case: seven Democrats and four Republicans.

That decision will likely also be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/07/22/obama-administration-to-ignore-court-ruling-on-obamacare-subsidies/#ixzz38EZleCth

Court rules subsidies illegal for Obamacare…

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By ROBERT PEARJULY 22, 2014

WASHINGTON — Two federal appeals court panels issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on whether the government could subsidize health insurance premiums for people in three dozen states that use the federal insurance exchange. The decisions are the latest in a series of legal challenges to central components of President Obama’s health care law.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, upheld the subsidies, saying that a rule issued by the Internal Revenue Service was “a permissible exercise of the agency’s discretion.”

The ruling came within hours of a 2-to-1 ruling by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which said that the government could not subsidize insurance for people in states that use the federal exchange.

That decision could cut potentially off financial assistance for more than 4.5 million people who were found eligible for subsidized insurance in the federal exchange, or marketplace.

The law “does not authorize the Internal Revenue Service to provide tax credits for insurance purchased on federal exchanges,” said the ruling, by a three-judge panel in Washington. The law, it said, “plainly makes subsidies available only on exchanges established by states.”

Under this ruling, many people could see their share of premiums increase sharply, making insurance unaffordable for them.

The courts’ decisions are the not the last word, however, as other courts are weighing the same issue. And the Washington panel’s ruling could be reviewed by the full appeals court here.

The White House rejected the ruling of the court here and anticipated that the Justice Department will ask that the entire appeals court to review it. Mr. Obama’s aides noted that two district courts have thrown out similar lawsuits and therefore argued that judicial opinions have been mixed at worst. Moreover, they said the ruling Tuesday seemed to fly in the face of common sense.

“You don’t need a fancy legal degree to understand that Congress intended for every eligible American to have access to tax credits that would lower their health care costs, regardless of whether it was state officials or federal officials who were running the marketplace,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. “I think that is a pretty clear intent of the congressional law.”

Reacting to the ruling in Washington, a Justice Department spokeswoman, Emily Pierce, said: “We believe that this decision is incorrect, inconsistent with congressional intent, different from previous rulings and at odds with the goal of the law: to make health care affordable no matter where people live. The government will therefore immediately seek further review of the court’s decision.”

“In the meantime,” Ms. Pierce said, “to be clear, people getting premium tax credits should know that nothing has changed. Tax credits remain available.”

Continue reading the main story

The majority opinion in the case filed here, Halbig v. Burwell, was written by Judge Thomas B. Griffith, with a concurring opinion by Judge A. Raymond Randolph, a senior circuit judge.

Another member of that appeals court panel, Judge Harry T. Edwards, also a senior circuit judge, filed a dissenting opinion in which he described the lawsuit as an “attempt to gut” the health care law. The majority opinion, he said, “defies the will of Congress.”

Judge Edwards said that the Obama administration’s reading of the law, considered in “the broader context of the statute as a whole,” was “permissible and reasonable, and, therefore, entitled to deference.”

A similar approach was sounded later by the Fourth Circuit panel, which said, “We find that the applicable statutory language is ambiguous and subject to multiple interpretations.” The court said it would therefore give deference to the reading of the law by the Internal Revenue Service, which issued the rule allowing payment of subsidies for people in all states, regardless of whether the state had a federal or state exchange.

The decision by the appeals court here is important because the federal exchange serves states with about two-thirds of the nation’s population. In federal and state exchanges, people may qualify for subsidies if they have incomes of up to $45,960 for individuals and up to $94,200 for a family of four.

If it stands, the ruling by the District of Columbia court could undercut enforcement of the requirement for most Americans to have insurance. Without subsidies, many more consumers would go without insurance and could be exempted from the “individual mandate” because insurance would be unaffordable for them.

The ruling also could undermine the requirement for larger employers to offer health coverage to their employees. That requirement is enforced through penalties imposed on employers if any of their employees receive subsidies to buy insurance on an exchange.

The case is one of many legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act in the last few years. The Supreme Court upheld the law in 2012, but said the expansion of Medicaid was an option for states, not a requirement, and about half the states have declined to expand eligibility.

The administration suffered a defeat in a recent struggle over access to contraceptives. The Supreme Court ruled on June 30 that family-owned for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby Stores were not required to provide coverage of birth control to their employees if the companies objected on religious grounds.

The health care law authorized subsidies specifically for insurance bought “through an exchange established by the state.”

Obama administration officials said that an exchange established by the federal government was, in effect, established by a state because the secretary of health and human services was standing “in the shoes” of states when she established exchanges.

When the health care law was adopted in 2010, Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats assumed that states would set up their own exchanges. But many Republican governors and state legislators balked, and opposition to the law became a rallying cry for the party.

The lawsuit in Washington was filed by several people, supported by conservative and libertarian organizations, in states that use the federal exchange: Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. They objected to being required to buy insurance, even with subsidies to help defray the cost.

One of the plaintiffs, David Klemencic, who has a retail carpet store in Ellenboro, W.Va., said: “If I have to start paying out for health insurance, it will put me out of business. As Americans, we should be able to make our own decisions in matters like this.”

Similar lawsuits challenging subsidies under the Affordable Care Act are pending in other courts, which could reach different conclusions. In February, a federal district judge in Richmond, Va., upheld subsidies in the federal exchange. While plaintiffs’ interpretation of the law has “a certain common sense appeal,” the judge said, “there is no evidence in the legislative record” that Congress intended to make tax subsidies conditional on a state’s decision to create an exchange.

Stuart F. Delery, an assistant attorney general, told the appeals court here in March that Congress had intended for subsidies to be available nationwide to low- and moderate-income people, regardless of whether they obtained insurance on a federal or state exchange.

Subsidies, in the form of tax credits, are a crucial element of the Affordable Care Act. Without them, insurance would be unaffordable to millions of Americans. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that subsidies this year will average $4,400 for each person who receives a subsidy.

The plaintiffs said that Congress had confined the subsidies to state exchanges for a reason: It wanted to provide an incentive for states to establish and operate exchanges, rather than leaving the task to the federal government.

Obama administration officials said that argument was absurd. The overriding purpose of the Affordable Care Act, they said, was to ensure access to health care for nearly all Americans, wherever they live.

Of the eight million people who selected private health plans from October through mid-April, 5.4 million obtained coverage through the federal exchange, and most of them qualified for subsidies that reduce their premiums.