Sunday, July 13, 2014

Steamy Sunday Obamacare Schadenfreude

Nine AM, it's already 80 F according to the back deck thermometer, and the air is almost thick enough to swim in.

Glen Kessler, the Washington Post "fact checker" (really a democratic opinion spinner in fact checker's clothing), takes on Lamar Alexander's claim that health care premiums jumped 50% due to Obamacare. You won't be shocked when he finds the claim less than truthful will you?

Did health insurance premiums jump 50 percent because of Obamacare?
In any case, how does Alexander come up with the statistic that premiums have gone up 50 percent? He takes a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation estimate that the average individual monthly premium was $215, and then compares it to an estimate for the second lowest “silver plan” released by HHS in 2013 as the exchanges were launched–$328 a month. (Alexander focused on the second lowest silver plan because the administration labeled it the “benchmark plan.”)

That’s an increase of 53 percent . . . ,
53% is more than 50%, and close enough for government work, right?  But I hear a "but" coming. . .
but it’s fuzzy math.
And then Glen goes off to find his own fuzzy math to find that  suggest that, although premiums definitely didn't drop as Obama, Pelosi and Reid all promised, after taking in a large number of mitigating factors, and deducting subsidies from the cost of the insurance premiums (talk about fuzzy math), Glen awards Alexander two Pinocchios:
Alexander mixes up so many apples and oranges here that the ad is a virtual fruit basket.

As a general matter, one could say that individual premiums have gone up, in part because the health-care law mandates a rich package of benefits. But one cannot ignore the impact of tax subsidies—or easily compare pre-ACA plans with post-ACA plans. Alexander may want to relive his moment in the national spotlight, but he’s misleading viewers with his math that premiums have risen more than 50 percent. Two Pinocchios
I award Kessler three Pinocchios of his very own for this fine effort:
Three Pinocchios: Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.
ObamaCare premiums in MN heading for double-digit increases?
Premium rates will escalate sharply for Minnesota enrollees in the MNSure system in 2015, but no one’s quite sure just how much they’ll rise. The lowball estimate is 8%, far above inflation, and the high estimate puts the increase into double digits. Either would be a direct rebuttal to claims by Barack Obama, Governor Mark Dayton, Senator Al Franken, and the DFL that the ObamaCare system will control costs for Minnesotans. With an election coming up for Dayton and Franken, will Minnesota voters get the final data before they have to cast their votes? Not if Dayton can help it, apparently:
Gov. Mark Dayton tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he would be disappointed by such a large percentage increase in premiums, but the governor pointed out Minnesota still has the lowest rates in the country and that his goal is to keep it that way.
Dayton also says Brunner is entitled to her opinion.
“No one knows what the rates will be when they are approved and announced in November,” Brunner said.
Minnesota does not allow public disclosure of rate negotiations by law. 
Conveniently after the election.

Two opposing views on the long awaited Halbig decision which could gut Obamacare by ruling that subsidies can't be used in states with federal markets:

Courts won’t void the Affordable Care Act over semantics
 . . .Fortunately, courts do not read statutes by cherry-picking single phrases to defeat the entire purpose of laws. As Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia noted in an opinion issued last month, courts must bear in mind the “fundamental canon of statutory construction that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme.” If one views the totality of the ACA — its purpose and its other provisions — it’s clear that tax credits are available in the federal exchange. . .
In other words, it's hopeless to imagine that Congress could construct an internally consistent law, so it's up the court to fix it to liberals desires.

Taking the opposite view is Preznit Obama's former conlaw prof, Larry Tribe, who thinks the court just might decide that the words mean what the say, and not what liberals now want them to mean:

Obama’s law professor: There’s a “very high risk” that a federal court is going to gut ObamaCare
Harvard legal scholar Laurence H. Tribe warned Tuesday of a “very high risk” that a crucial aspect of Obamacare – its government subsidies provision – could fall victim to a major legal challenge being mounted by conservatives. That is why, he also said, that the Supreme Court will almost certainly get “a second bite of the apple” in determining the fate of President Obama’s signature health law, with uncertain consequences…

Tribe, whose new book, Uncertain Justice, takes a deep dive into the Roberts court, said the plaintiffs make a strong argument. The legislative language is clear, he said, that the subsidies apply to exchanges established by states. Yet in drafting the law, Tribe said the administration “assumed that state exchanges would be the norm and federal exchanges would be a marginal, fallback position” – though it didn’t work out that way for a plethora of legal, administrative and political reasons.

“You could argue that as long as a state triggers it by asking the federal government to come in [and establish insurance exchanges] that it’s a state-established exchange, even though it’s a federally run exchange,” Tribe added. That might give some of the justices who aren’t strict constructionists some leeway in looking beyond the law’s specific language, he said.
Sounds like a question for Justice Kennedy. . .

Linked at the Daley Gator in "Sunday Blogging Appreciation Day."

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