Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday Obamacare Schadenfreude

Another Wednesday (what's with that damned "d" anyway?), another lot of Obamacare Schadenfreude.

Democratic Senators Beg For Another Obamacare Delay
A group of Democratic senators is urging the Obama administration to delay a key portion of Obamacare because the results could be “harmful and disruptive.”

In a letter exclusively obtained by The Daily Caller, Senate Democrats pleaded with Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell to delay an Obamacare rule change that puts companies with 51 to 100 employees in the costlier “small group” market instead of the “large group” market. The rule change, which will result in higher premiums for many companies, goes into effect in 2016.

The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, Chris Coons, Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly and Jon Tester and independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats.

Even Obama is showing signs of turning his back on his "signature" legislation: Obama fails to show after being introduced at Obamacare event
Today at 10:30 AM ET, President Obama was scheduled to speak at the White House's "Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network Kickoff Meeting." His introducer, seemingly sensing the president was tardy, gamely tried stretching out his remarks. Then, at around 10:35, apparently receiving word the president was ready to go, the audience was encouraged to applaud for the next speaker, "the president of the United States!"

Then an awkward silence fell over the crowd as the president failed to show. Spectators could be seen putting down their cameras, losing hope.

Finally, nine minutes later, the president arrived. No explanation or apology was offered.
Meanwhile, the "side effects" (one can hardly call them unexpected consequences) that conservatives warned about are continuing to blossom: Employees working fewer hours due to Obamacare
A new survey by the Society of Human Resource Management released Tuesday found about 14 percent of businesses have reduced part-time hours and another 6 percent plan to do so. Employers are reducing hours to avoid Obamacare's employer mandate, which requires companies to provide health insurance to all workers that work 30 or more hours a week.

In addition, 5 percent of companies already reduced or plan to reduce the total number of employees.
Under Health Care Act, Many Tax Filers Are Discovering Costly Complications
. . . This filing season, for the first time, millions of Americans are facing tax implications — and new forms that even seasoned preparers are finding confusing — related to their health insurance status. The changes are not only complicating things for tax filers, but also costing many of them money.

Under the Affordable Care Act, people who remained uninsured last year must either pay a penalty with their taxes, one of the most contentious elements of the law, or claim an exemption. The Obama administration has said up to six million people would owe a penalty of $95 or 1 percent of their household income, whichever is greater. But as many as 30 million people are getting exemptions, mainly because they are too poor to afford health insurance or because they live in a state that refused to expand Medicaid last year under the health law.

And people who did get insurance but, like Mr. Ciesielski, underestimated their income for 2014 — the figure on which subsidies are calculated — are being required to pay back part of their subsidy.

In late February, H & R Block reported that its uninsured clients had paid an average penalty of $172. The money comes out of refunds, while people who do not get refunds are required to pay the Internal Revenue Service by April 15.
Like the tax system needed further complications.

And Professor Althouse thinks Justice Kennedy may be sending signals that are unfavorable for the governments case in King vs. Burwell: Did Anthony Kennedy just reveal the outcome in King v. Burwell?
Justice Kennedy clearly and soundly rejected the argument that the inability of Congress to fix a problem should not keep the Court from deciding that there is a problem with a statute that it is the role of Congress, not the courts, to fix.

When this problem came up at oral argument, Justice Scalia said something that — as I explained here — some people thought was amusingly out of touch:
What about Congress? You really think Congress is just going to sit there while all of these disastrous consequences ensue? I mean, how often have we come out with a decision such as the ­­ you know, the bankruptcy court decision? Congress adjusts, enacts a statute that takes care of the problem. It happens all the time. Why is that not going to happen here?
The Solicitor General drew a laugh with the response "Well, this Congress?"

This Congress can't (or won't) fix it, so that was supposed to be a reason why the Supreme Court should fix the statute for them. In Monday's testimony, Anthony Kennedy called that "a wrong proposition." It's not the Court's role to perceive or predict gridlock. The Court must "assume" a "fully functioning" Congress. That is, the Court's approach to statutory interpretation — its idea of where the judicial role ends and when a problem with a statute needs a legislative solution — remains the same. The dysfunction of Congress doesn't change the function of the judicial branch, and Congress's inability to rewrite statutes does not give rise to an otherwise nonexistent judicial power to rewrite statutes.

Justice Kennedy is standing tough on separation of powers. Get ready!
If the President can do Congresses job when he doesn't like its inaction, and the court can write law the Congress can't pass, why bother with a Congress at all?

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