Some some for O-care surviving King v. Burwell from Reuters.
The voice of opposition past, Justice Kennedy may save Obamacare now
Justice Anthony Kennedy was furious when a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama’s healthcare law. As he read the dissenting opinion from the bench three years ago, his anger was palpable. The majority regards its opinion “as judicial modesty," he declared. "It is not. It amounts instead to a vast judicial over-reaching.”That was back in 2012, but now:
During oral arguments Justice Kennedy suggested the challengers' view of the law could put unconstitutional federal pressure on states, because if they failed to set up exchanges, they would lose subsidies: "The states are being told either create your own exchange or we’ll send your insurance market into a death spiral,” he said.Yes, the law was stupidly written in such a way, quite deliberately to "buy off" the states with subsidies. When it didn't work, they changed their tune, and denied that intention. Kennedy is not obligated to buy their lies.
Kennedy also does not rigidly interpret the words of a statute. He considers how a decision may play out, and he noted that if “people pay mandated taxes” and are denied tax credits, “the cost of insurance will be sky-high.”
Still, Kennedy may harbor skepticism about the law known as Obamacare, and he acknowledged during arguments the possibility that the challengers could “prevail on the plain words of the statute.”I trust a snake before I trust the Supreme Court. Snakes have small minds and simple patterns, and rarely try to fool themselves.
And now, just a few days after we found out the Feds leaked all that information to China: Obamacare Database Keeps Personal Info “Forever”
In the wake of a security breach last month that resulted in the theft of personal taxpayer data, experts are now raising concerns over a government data warehouse that keeps the information of Obamacare enrollees forever.Chances are it's way more than are necessary, and no one knows the real answer.
The system, known as the Multidimensional Insurance Data Analytics System, or MIDAS is vaguely described on the federal healthcare.gov as a “perpetual central repository.” When asked by the Associated Press how many people have direct access to the database, officials refused to say.
The decision to keep the personal information of enrollees forever has raised the ire of experts. Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation stated that it is irresponsible of the government to retain data any longer than is necessary. Similarly, Michael Astrue, a former Social Security Commissioner has argued that there is no justification for keeping this data permanently. In addition, he worries that the federal government is illegally expanding MIDAS by adding personal information from state-run Obamacare exchanges without proper privacy consent.Given the high level of redundancy and back ups with computer information, it's quite likely that deleting information for good is practically impossible; it will stick around on back up tapes until they degrade somewhere. And by then, the Chinese, the Iranians, the Norks, Anonymous, and maybe even the Israelis will have copies. Digits are cheap.
Since MIDAS was first rolled out, watchdog groups have raised concerns over its safeguards. A report released last year by the Government Accountability Office found that MIDAS had been released without proper safeguards in place. As the report states:We are about to enter a society where privacy is impossible, unless you're Clinton or an Obama. Just get used to it.
“Healthcare.gov had weaknesses when it was first deployed, including incomplete security plans and privacy documentation, incomplete security tests, and the lack of an alternate processing site to avoid major service disruptions.”As the report concludes, these problems leave the personal information of Obamacare enrollees vulnerable:
“Until these weaknesses are fully addressed, increased and unnecessary risks remain of unauthorized access, disclosure, or modification of the information collected and maintained by Healthcare.gov and related systems, and the disruption of service provided by the systems.”This news should come as no surprise to taxpayers given the federal government’s repeated inability to safeguard sensitive taxpayer information.
Speaking of Records: Feds Can’t Verify $2.8 Billion in Obamacare Subsidies
The federal government cannot verify nearly $3 billion in subsidies distributed through Obamacare, putting significant taxpayer funding “at risk,” according to a new audit report.It's like they just don't care.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released an audit Tuesday finding that the agency did not have an internal system to ensure that subsidies went to the right enrollees, or in the correct amounts.
“[The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] CMS’s internal controls did not effectively ensure the accuracy of nearly $2.8 billion in aggregate financial assistance payments made to insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act during the first four months that these payments were made,” the OIG said.
“CMS’s system of internal controls could not ensure that CMS made correct financial assistance payments,” they said.
The OIG reviewed subsidies paid to insurance companies between January and April 2014. The audit found that CMS did not have a process to “prevent or detect any possible substantial errors” in subsidy payments.