Tag Archives: ObamaCare

Congress Wants Records on Kitzhaber’s Disastrous OrBamaCare Program

The House Governmental Oversight Committee wants failed Cover Oregon records.

Image Credit: Washington Post
Image Credit: Washington Post

From the Zero:

Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued to Kitzhaber’s office a wide-ranging demand for documents on Friday, the very day the governor announced he was resigning.

The letter cites a recent report that highlighted concerns sparked by a Kitzhaber staffer’s attempt to have thousands of emails inadvertently stored from the governor’s personal email account removed and deleted from state archives. A governor’s spokeswoman said the intent was to preserve emails that pertained to the public’s business, but not ones deemed personal.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz’s committee wants to make sure Kitzhaber isn’t trying to cover up what’s become known colloquially as the Cover-Up Oregon health plan. But here’s another angle on the story: Kitzhaber may have colluded to keep the Cover Oregon site down altogether, instead of constantly malfunctioning to help the Governor’s re-election campaign.

And a set of emails leaked to Willamette Week in November showed that McCaig directed meetings to discuss the content and timing of an advisory committee’s recommendation on Cover Oregon’s future. Three weeks later, the committee publicly recommended closing down the Oracle-built exchange and moving to the federal one.

Oracle has accused the state of shutting down the exchange to help Kitzhaber’s reelection campaign.

Friday was a very bad day for the Oregon chief executive. 

Pete the Banker: Outrage Builds Over Gruber’s ObamaCare Lies

 ObamaCare Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Recently disclosed statements by the Administrations point man on the Affordable Care Act, Jonathan Gruber, are reminiscent of the Jack Nicholson phrase in the movie a “A Few Good Men”, “You can’t handle the truth”!
Image: Pundit From Another Planet
Image: Pundit From Another Planet
Jonathan Gruber was the architect of Romney Care in Mass, the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act, as well as a paid contractor who served as an implementer and spokesman for the ACA under a $400K contract.  And now, according to the Washington Times, we discover Gruber made MILLIONS lying to the American public:
Those “stupid” people have been extremely generous to Mr. Gruber. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2010 investigated the $297,600 that the Department of Health and Human Services paid Mr. Gruber to sing the praises of the health care scheme.

Minnesota, for example, used federal Obamacare grants to pay Mr. Gruber to attend one meeting, participate in a biweekly email list and print a copy of the report, all for $329,000. Wisconsin paid Mr. Gruber $400,000 for the same material, requested by the office of then-Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat. When the report was presented, Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, didn’t want Mr. Gruber at the news conference. Vermont is paying him another $400,000. Such a deal!

West Virginia, Maine, Colorado and Oregon have partaken of Mr. Gruber’s services, too, guaranteeing him a tidy sum. The money bought lies and deception. That’s Mr. Gruber’s characterization, not ours. “If you had a law which made it explicit that healthy people are going to pay in and sick people get money,” said Mr. Gruber, “it would not have passed.”

Additionally, Gruber filed a Friend-of-the-Court-Brief defending the ACA in defense of the Administration’s position before the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This case is now pending appeal before the Supreme Court.
His comments reflect the ultimate deception of the ACA,
Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass…
Remember the Nancy Pelosi statement during the ACA debate, “We Have to Pass the Bill So That You Can Find Out What Is In It”

But rest assured, Nancy says she has never heard of Gruber; just ask her.

Deception, lack of transparency are truly the foundation of the ACA.

Oops, except she has:

Gruber’s subsequent “apology” was,
The comments on that video were made at an academic conference.I was speaking off the cuff and I basically spoke inappropriately and I regret having made those comments.

Note that his selection of words in his alleged “apology” suggest he apologizes for the comments, but not about the central ideas he espouses. Nuanced indeed.  When further pressed to elaborate on his response, he then launched into a tangential argument spinning blame on the Bush and prior Administrations for their lack of transparency.  An obvious deflection again intended to mask his true beliefs.

Since the release of this first tape, two more videos (and now another) have emerged verifying that the first tape was not a single incident, nor a one time slip of tongue, but a strongly held conviction.  Gruber again,

And again,

One more time(?),

But then, he is sorry for the comments?!?

And at a subsequent interview, Gruber has had the audacity to claim Republicans were confusing people??  He stated,

I think that this comes to the master strategy of the Republican party, which is to confuse people enough about the law so that they don’t understand that the subsidies they’re getting is because of the law.

Rather amusing that Gruber who admits “lack of transparency” and blames Americans for stupidity, then has the audacity to blame the bill’s opponents for confusing people?!  Perhaps this latest assertion will become the introductory statement in his next speaking engagement.

The promise of transparency has been the hallmark promise of Obama’s Administration from day one, comparable to Ulysses version of sea nymph sirens whose beguiling and enticing songs rendered his crew defenseless. The incessant chant of “transparency” parroted by both Obama himself and his Administration have mesmerized hard working Americans to believe that all their problems and in this case all their medical issues will be forever resolved. Among other instances, these melodic chants were introduced with the 2009 call to transparency:

reinforced by a 2010 promise, 

and who can forget the more recent Google Fireside Hangout Obama assertion in 2012 that, 
This is the most transparent administration in history.
And Obama’s White House Website itself repeats this pledge,
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
Interesting that   while the Administration gave lip service to the concept of transparency, it eagerly embraced deception to pass ObamaCare.
Americans who accepted the Administration’s and the Democrat’s  promises assuring them that the ACA would reduce medical costs, prevent accelerating insurance costs, improving the quality of health care, all while allowing them to keep their existing insurance, doctor, and hospital access were beguiled.  Those melodic promises of the ACA’s architects were nothing more than a cruel illusion perpetrated on hard working, decent Americans, guilty of only trusting elected representatives and not stupidity.

Two rulings, one day. ObamaCare to head to the Supremes. Again.

ObamaCare says what it says. That’s what a three judge panel in the DC circuit court of appeals has basically said as much in a ruling today. In a two-to-one ruling, the judges said the ObamaCare subsidy doesn’t apply to people who sign up on the federal health insurance exchanges, only state exchanges because that’s what the law says.

Instead of taking the tunnel, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made a  point to walk through and mock the angry protesters who yelled, "Kill the Bill! Kill the Bill!"
Instead of taking the tunnel, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made a point to walk through and mock the angry protesters who yelled, “Kill the Bill! Kill the Bill!”

The federal government says it will ask the full first circuit to review the case.

In the meantime, people who signed up with the federal government and qualified for subsidies, including those in the failed state plans in Oregon and Maryland, are wondering what will become of their free money. 

Although the president has changed the law multiple times to suit his political aims and the IRS attempted to paper over this obvious issue, the Democrats, when they did the final cram down on ObamaCare, intended for there to be no subsidies paid at the federal level–hoping to force states to do it. 

 From The Hill:

A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down one of the pillars of ObamaCare, ruling that the law’s premium subsidies are invalid in more than two-dozen states.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 2-1 decision that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not permit the IRS to distribute premium subsidies in the federal ObamaCare exchange, meaning those consumers must bear the full cost of their insurance.

“Because we conclude that the ACA unambiguously restricts the section 36B subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges ‘established by the State,’ we reverse the district court and vacate the IRS’s regulation,” the court said in its ruling.

As you can see by the ruling, the politically motivated IRS officials decided to take matters into their own hands and create a rule that directly circumvents the Democrats’ own intention and the words in the law. That ruling was vacated by the court.

But two hours after this ruling, another court ruled the opposite way,

… [A] separate federal appeals court panel in Richmondunanimously upheld the law and its system of subsidies and tax credits, putting it in opposition to the D.C. appeals court. That could raise the potential of a Supreme Court showdown.

“If there is a split in the circuits, then I think the Supreme Court would have to step in,” said Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel at the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center.

As for what these decisions do to the people who are getting subsidized health care? The president’s spokesman says they’ll ignore the ruling for now,

Attention ObamaCare dead pool players: Bungler Kathleen Sebelius to resign. Gone!

Obama’s War on Women: Another woman to be named to oversee bungled ObamaCare.


News tonight from the Obama Administration the president will accept the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius. From USA Today, 

Obama accepted the resignation this week and intends to announce that he will nominate his Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace Sebelius.

He will make the formal announcement at 11 a.m. on Friday at the White House, according to officials, who asked not to be identified so as not to preempt the president.

While USA Today attempted to ascribe recent gaffs to Sebelius’s ouster, the reality is the entire ObamaCare overhaul was ill advised, one sided and horribly orchestrated by everyone in the Obama Administration–probably because–oh, I don’t know–because the bill was horrible for the American people or something. 

But hey, sucker, we have a song to send you off. I just wish you would take ObamaCare with it. 



ObamaCare: BOOM. Failure to launch.

ObamaCare is unpopular, unaffordable and the roll out has been horrible. It’s a failure to launch.

The drop dead deadline to sign up for ObamaCare is/was/kinda/sorta today–until the Obama Administration moved it again, that is. This time the change–the 38th one since passage of the bill–is for an indefinite period of time. From the Wall Street Journal,

On Tuesday evening, the Health and Human Services Department announced that the six-month open enrollment period for ObamaCare insurance that began in October 2013 and was supposed to end on the last day of March would be extended indefinitely. As long as people self-attest and check a box that they had some difficulty signing up on with the 36 federal insurance exchanges, the deadline will no longer obtain.

If you  have no meaningful deadline there are no metrics by which the government is measured.  That’s why they keep moving the little suckers. The objective is to keep the program in a cloud of confusion till they either figure out how to fix it or you’re just so disgusted you demand the government  run the whole thing as a single payer system. 

According to the Wall Street Journal and the Galen Institute this is the 38th delay in the implementation of ObamaCare. I’ve included the list of delays below. Maybe Nancy Pelosi was talking about herself when  she said, “We have to pass the bill before you can find out what is, ah, in it.”

Sure, Mrs. Taft, we’ll build you a house but we can’t, ah, tell you what will look like until it is, ah, built. You’d trust somebody to do that, right?

Remember these–let’s see, what invective did the left hurl and the media mimic–‘crazy, racist, homophobic,Pelosi_victorious nutty people’ who implored, “Kill the bill!”?

They stood on the stairs leading to the capitol as Nancy Pelosi held her cartoonishly large gavel and, with house leadership, walked through the thousands of protesters. She mocked the people, laughing at them as she walked through. In fact, the photographer who took the photo nearby entitled it, “Pelosi Victorious.”

Those nutty people? Yeah, if they were so wrong why does the Obama Administration fall all over itself to hide the real deadlines and real fall out from the original bill?

See the Galen Institute’s list of ObamaCare changes (please see all their supporting documents at their website):


1. Medicare Advantage patch: The administration ordered an advance draw on funds from a Medicare bonus program in order to provide extra payments to Medicare Advantage plans, in an effort to temporarily forestall cuts in benefits and therefore delay early exodus of MA plans from the program. (April 19, 2011)

2. Employee reporting: The administration, contrary to the Obamacare legislation, instituted a one-year delay of the requirement that employers must report to their employees on their W-2 forms the full cost of their employer-provided health insurance. (January 1, 2012)

3. Subsidies may flow through federal exchanges: The IRS issued a rule that allows premium assistance tax credits to be available in federal exchanges although the law only specified that they would be available “through an Exchange established by the State under Section 1311.” (May 23, 2012)

4. Closing the high-risk pool: The administration decided to halt enrollment in transitional federal high-risk pools created by the law, blocking coverage for an estimated 40,000 new applicants, citing a lack of funds. The administration had money from a fund under Secretary Sebelius’s control to extend the pools, but instead used the money to pay for advertising for Obamacare enrollment and other purposes. (February 15, 2013)

5. Doubling allowed deductibles: Because some group health plans use more than one benefits administrator, plans are allowed to apply separate patient cost-sharing limits for one year to different services, such as doctor/hospital and prescription drugs, allowing maximum out-of-pocket costs to be twice as high as the law intended. (February 20, 2013)

6. Small businesses on hold: The administration has said that the federal exchanges for small businesses will not be ready by the 2014 statutory deadline, and instead delayed until 2015 the provision of SHOP (Small-Employer Health Option Program) that requires the exchanges to offer a choice of qualified health plans. (March 11, 2013)

7. Delaying a low-income plan: The administration delayed implementation of the Basic Health Program until 2015. It would have provided more-affordable health coverage for certain low-income individuals not eligible for Medicaid. (March 22, 2013)

8. Employer-mandate delay: By an administrative action that’s contrary to statutory language in the ACA, the reporting requirements for employers were delayed by one year. (July 2, 2013)

9. Self-attestation: Because of the difficulty of verifying income after the employer-reporting requirement was delayed, the administration decided it would allow “self-attestation” of income by applicants for health insurance in the exchanges. This was later partially retracted after congressional and public outcry over the likelihood of fraud. (July 15, 2013)

10. Delaying the online SHOP exchange: The administration first delayed for a month and later for a year until November 2014 the launch of the online insurance marketplace for small businesses. The exchange was originally scheduled to launch on October 1, 2013. (September 26, 2013) (November 27, 2013)

11. Congressional opt-out: The administration decided to offer employer contributions to members of Congress and their staffs when they purchase insurance on the exchanges created by the ACA, a subsidy the law doesn’t provide. (September 30, 2013)

12. Delaying the individual mandate: The administration changed the deadline for the individual mandate, by declaring that customers who have purchased insurance by March 31, 2014 will avoid the tax penalty. Previously, they would have had to purchase a plan by mid-February. (October 23, 2013)

13. Insurance companies may offer canceled plans: The administration announced that insurance companies may reoffer plans that previous regulations forced them to cancel. (November 14, 2013)

14. Exempting unions from reinsurance fee: The administration gave unions an exemption from the reinsurance fee (one of ObamaCare’s many new taxes). To make up for this exemption, non-exempt plans will have to pay a higher fee, which will likely be passed onto consumers in the form of higher premiums and deductibles. (December 2, 2013)

15. Extending Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan: The administration extended the federal high risk pool until January 31, 2014 and again until March 15, 2014 to prevent a coverage gap for the most vulnerable. The plans were scheduled to expire on December 31, but were extended because it has been impossible for some to sign up for new coverage on healthcare.gov. (December 12, 2013) (January 14, 2014)

16. Expanding hardship waiver to those with canceled plans: The administration expanded the hardship waiver, which excludes people from the individual mandate and allows some to purchase catastrophic health insurance, to people who have had their plans canceled because of ObamaCare regulations. The administration later extended this waiver until October 1, 2016. (December 19, 2013) (March 5, 2014)

17. Equal employer coverage delayed: Tax officials will not be enforcing in 2014 the mandate requiring employers to offer equal coverage to all their employees. This provision of the law was supposed to go into effect in 2010, but IRS officials have “yet to issue regulations for employers to follow.” (January 18, 2014)

18. Employer-mandate delayed again: The administration delayed for an additional year provisions of the employer mandate, postponing enforcement of the requirement for medium-size employers until 2016 and relaxing some requirements for larger employers. Businesses with 100 or more employees must offer coverage to 70% of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95% in 2016 and beyond. (February 10, 2014)

19. Extending subsidies to non-exchange plans: The administration released a bulletin through CMS extending subsidies to individuals who purchased health insurance plans outside of the federal or state exchanges. The bulletin also requires retroactive coverage and subsidies for individuals from the date they applied on the marketplace rather than the date they actually enrolled in a plan. (February 27, 2014)

20. Non-compliant health plans get two year extension: The administration pushed back the deadline by two years that requires health insurers to cancel plans that are not compliant with ObamaCare’s mandates. These “illegal” plans may now be offered until 2017. This extension will prevent a wave cancellation notices from going out before the 2014 midterm elections. (March 5, 2014)

21. Delaying the sign-up deadline: The administration delayed until mid-April the March 31 deadline to sign up for insurance. Applicants simply need to check a box on their application to qualify for this extended sign-up period. (March 26, 2014)


22. Military benefitsCongress clarified that plans provided by TRICARE, the military’s health-insurance program, constitutes minimal essential health-care coverage as required by the ACA; its benefits and plans wouldn’t normally meet ACA requirements. (April 26, 2010)

23. VA benefitsCongress also clarified that health care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs constitutes minimum essential health-care coverage as required by the ACA. (May 27, 2010)

24. Drug-price clarificationCongress modified the definition of average manufacturer price (AMP) to include inhalation, infusion, implanted, or injectable drugs that are not generally dispensed through a retail pharmacy. (August 10, 2010)

25. Doc-fix taxCongress modified the amount of premium tax credits that individuals would have to repay if they are over-allotted, an action designed to help offset the costs of the postponement of cuts in Medicare physician payments called for in the ACA. (December 15, 2010)

26. Extending the adoption creditCongress extended the nonrefundable adoption tax credit, which happened to be included in the ACA, through tax year 2012. (December 17, 2010)

27. TRICARE for adult childrenCongress extended TRICARE coverage to dependent adult children up to age 26 when it had previously only covered those up to the age of 21 — though beneficiaries still have to pay premiums for them. (January 7, 2011)

28. 1099 repealedCongress repealed the paperwork (“1099”) mandate that would have required businesses to report to the IRS all of their transactions with vendors totaling $600 or more in a year. (April 14, 2011)

29. No free-choice vouchersCongress repealed a program, supported by Senator Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) that would have allowed “free-choice vouchers,” that the Hill warned “could lead young, healthy workers to opt out” of their employer plans, “driving up costs for everybody else.” The same law barred additional funds for the IRS to hire new agents to enforce the health-care law. (April 15, 2011)

30. No Medicaid for well-to-do seniors: Congress saved taxpayers $13 billion by changing how the eligibility for certain programs is calculated under Obamacare. Without the change, a couple earning as much as much as $64,000 would still have been able to qualify for Medicaid. (November 21, 2011)

31. CO-OPs, IPAB, IRS defundedCongress made further cuts to agencies implementing Obamacare. It trimmed another $400 million off the CO-OP program, cut another $305 million from the IRS to hamper its ability to enforce the law’s tax hikes and mandates, and rescinded $10 million in funding for the controversial Independent Payment Advisory Board. (December 23, 2011)

32. Slush-fund savingsCongress slashed another $11.6 billion from the Prevention and Public Health slush fund and $2.5 billion from Obamacare’s “Louisiana Purchase.” (February 22, 2012)

33. Less cash for Louisiana: One of the tricks used to get Obamacare through the Senate was the special “Louisiana Purchase” deal for the state’s Democratic senator, Mary Landrieu. Congress saved another $670 million by rescinding additional funds from this bargain. (July 6, 2012)

34. CLASS Act eliminated: Congress repealed the unsustainable CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports) program of government-subsidized long-term-care insurance, which even the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee dubbed a “Ponzi scheme of the first order.” (January 2, 2013)

35. Cutting CO-OPsCongress cut $2.2 billion from the “Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan” (CO-OP), which some saw as a stealth public option, blocking creation of government-subsidized co-op insurance programs in about half the states. Early reports showed many co-ops, which had received federal loans, had run into serious financial trouble. (January 2, 2013)

36. Trimming the Medicare trust-fund transferCongress rescinded $200 million of the $500 million scheduled to be taken from the Medicare Part A and Part B trust funds and sent to the Community-Based Care Transition Program established and funded by the ACA. (March 26, 2013)


37. Medicaid expansion made voluntary: The court ruled it had to be voluntary, rather than mandatory, for states to expand Medicaid eligibility to people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, by ruling that the federal government couldn’t halt funds for existing state Medicaid programs if they chose not to expand the program.

38. The individual mandate made a tax: The court determined that violating the mandate that Americans must purchase government-approved health insurance would only result in individuals’ paying a “tax,” making it, legally speaking, optional for people to comply.

This list was originally published HERE on Galen.org and has been published on National Review Online. It was updated to 29 changes on December 10, 2013.


Cover Oregon to spend another $1 mil to advertise program that doesn’t work

After the disastrous roll out, they didn't spend money advertising the disastrous product.
After the disastrous roll out of this product, they didn’t spend money to advertise it.

 *This post has been changed to reflect a change in  the person previously mentioned was a “friend.” That person has asked me to change the information so that they are not targeted because they’re friends with a conservative.  I’ve changed the reference to protect them.*

The OrBamaCare–Cover Oregon–website doesn’t work, but state spends another million to advertise extended deadline and tout success. Alas, ‘success’ doesn’t describe friend’s experience.

Cover Oregon’s executives have been summarily fired or “let go” because the OrBamaCare program and its website don’t work. At all. But that isn’t stopping the state from spending another $1 million to advertise extra time to sign up for a program that doesn’t work. That’s $9.3 million in all for the ad budget (that we know of). I’m sure the taxpayers couldn’t have found a higher and better use for that money had they been allowed to keep it in the first place.

I’ve never heard of Ben Gay Aspirin. Nobody has. It sucked, that’s why. The Ben Gay people didn’t say in the marketing meeting, ‘Hey, well, it’s an utter disaster, so let’s spend more money to tout what a disaster it is.’ Whatever happened to WebTV, anyway Microsoft? Seen any advertising for that lately? New Coke was a disaster. When it died Coke didn’t spend more money advertising how Bic underweardisastrous it was. Bic underwear? Bic underwear? 

But disastrous product rollouts be damned when it comes to government spending other peoples’ money!  The new web, TV and online campaign tells of the successes of OrBamaCare recipients and how, the program is such a success they’re giving you more time to sign up! The success stories of “Ron”, “Gilberto”, “Judy”, “Amy”, “Katrina”, “Cory and Doris”, “Bayo” and “Andrea” seem to contrast with hundreds of thousands of other Oregonians who haven’t been able to sign up–including my acquaintance, who will remain unnamed.

The unnamed woman emailed me to tell me her story. In short it goes something like this:

She tried to sign up for OrBamaCare online.

She thought it worked.

She was told she had insurance.

The state screwed up her info.

It didn’t work.

She kept trying by herself.

It didn’t work.

Then she called and got a “community agent” or “navigator” to get signed up online. 

She was told she had insurance.

It didn’t work.

She called again.

She was told she had insurance.

Now she doesn’t believe them.

Apparently, this is success worth advertising.

Because the website is a disaster and doesn’t work, Cover Oregon says the only way you can sign up for OrBamaCare is to go online and find a “community agent” who has the double-secret-probation-prime-directive-password. Cover Oregon helpfully suggested a place to go online to get said “community agent.” This is what I got.

Cover Oregon website oops

It’s not funny, Chief Justice Roberts

Chief Justice John Roberts shares a laugh with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick
Chief Justice John Roberts shares a laugh with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick at a recent event

It’s not a penalty, it’s a tax. It’s not a tax, it’s a penalty. John Roberts’ ObamaCare decision draws laughs in the US Supreme Court on Monday. Hint: it’s not funny.

We all remember the 2012 ObamaCare decision in which Chief Justice John Roberts pulled a dipsy doodle and saved ObamaCare by rewriting the law to say the individual mandate was a tax. “Such legislation is within Congress’ power to tax.”

Roberts made sure the issue of the ObamaCare individual mandate penalties was argued as a tax even though the Obama Administration argued it was not. After initially believing the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional as it was written, Roberts contrived to turn it into a tax and –voila!–part of the president’s cornerstone program was upheld.

On the upside, the Chief Justice limited the Congress’ ability to abuse the Commerce Clause in the future, but Constitutional originalists may never forgive him for allowing ObamaCare’s forced insurance purchase to be viewed as a tax instead of penalty.

The subject came up in the oral arguments of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialities on Monday. ObamaCare covers abortion drugs. These companies did not want to have anything to do with them. The issue is should companies owned by sincerely religious people be forced to denounce their religious beliefs to accommodate a government program? Hobby Lobby’s insurance pays for all kinds of birth control but wanted nothing to do with abortion drugs.

On pages 23-24 of the oral arguments Hobby Lobby’s attorney, Paul Clement, was asked by the liberal (and female) faction of the court about why the company doesn’t just drop insurance altogether and pay the penalty! Isn’t that nice of them? They’re just looking out for the financial well being of Hobby Lobby and by simply paying the extortion, they get to retain their religious rights!

Some choice. Heads: the government wins, tails: the companies lose. 

11  JUSTICE KAGAN:  No, I don’t think that 
12 that’s the same thing, Mr. Clement.  There’s one penalty
13 that is if the employer continues to provide health
14 insurance without this part of the coverage, but Hobby
15 Lobby could choose not to provide health insurance at
16 all.  And in that case Hobby Lobby would pay $2,000 per
17 employee, which is less than Hobby Lobby probably pays
18 to provide insurance to its employees.
19  So there is a choice here.  It’s not even a
20 penalty by ­­ in the language of the statute.  It’s a
21 payment or a tax.  There’s a choice.  And so the
22 question is, why is there a substantial burden at all?
23  MR. CLEMENT:  Well, just to be clear, we
24 were talking about the same thing.  So the option, the
25 choice, is between paying a $475 million a year penalty
Alderson Reporting Company 23
Official ­ Subject to Final Review
1 and a $26 million a year penalty.  That’s what Hobby
2 Lobby faces.  So $2,000 per person ­­
3  JUSTICE KAGAN:  No, between paying $2,000
4 per employee per year if Hobby Lobby does not provide ­­
5  MR. CLEMENT:  That’s $26 million.
6  JUSTICE KAGAN:  You know, Hobby Lobby is
7 paying something right now for the ­­ for the coverage.
8 It’s less than what Hobby Lobby is paying for the
9 coverage.  There are employers all over the United
10 States that are doing this voluntarily because they
11 think that it’s less.
12  CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS:  I thought ­­ I
13 thought that part of the religious commitment of the
14 owners was to provide health care for its employees.
15  MR. CLEMENT:  That is true, Mr. Chief
16 Justice.  It is also true that this ­­
17  JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR:  Well, if they want to do
18 that, they can just pay a greater salary and let the
19 employees go in on the exchange.
20  MR. CLEMENT:  Exactly, which is, by the way,
21 why comparing the $2,000 penalty to the cost of the
22 health care is a false ­­ it’s a false comparison.
23  JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR:  It’s not called a
24 penalty.  It’s called a tax.  And it’s calibrated ­­ and
25 it’s calibrated ­­
Alderson Reporting Company 24
Official ­ Subject to Final Review
1  CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS:  She’s right about
2 that.
3  (Laughter.)
4  MR. CLEMENT:  And it has been treated for
5 some purposes as a penalty.  And I think for this
6 purposes, it certainly feels punitive.

It certainly does feel punitive. And that’s not funny.

Religious Liberty versus ObamaCare: Hobby Lobby in SCOTUS today

When ObamaCare passed religious organizations and companies with run by people of faith complained they would be forced to cover abortion drugs and contraception medicines under the state’s insurance mandate. 

Today’s oral arguments are from the companies compelled by ObamaCare to offer insurance coverage of abortion and contraceptive drugs. They include Hobby Lobby company, Conestoga Woods

From SCOTUSBLOG: Issue: Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.

Among the organizations writing amicus briefs is the Becket Fund which depicts the case this way:

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, to be argued at the Supreme Court March 25, 2014, will determine whether the government has the power to force family business owners to act against their faith based solely on their companies’ form of organization.  Specifically, the government is mandating that Hobby Lobby provide four potentially life-terminating drugs and devices through their health insurance plans or face severe fines, even as it concedes that doing so will violate the Green family’s beliefs.  The Greens and their family businesses have no moral objection to providing 16 of the 20 FDA-approved contraceptives under the HHS mandate, and they provide a broad range of contraceptives at no additional cost to employees under their self-insured health plan.

Hobby Lobby’s brief calls on two centuries of high court rulings to counter the government’s reasoning that the Greens’ rights as individuals cannot be exercised through their family-owned corporation. The brief insists that this freedom does not “turn on [the Company’s] tax status,” and further states that the Administration cannot “divide and conquer” the Greens’ religious liberties from those of Hobby Lobby to make those rights “simply vanish.”

In the Citizens United case, the high court determined corporations had the first amendment right to speak out on political issues. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) “provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.”

The intent, of course, is for the companies to be able to act out the religious beliefs of those running the company, in Hobby Lobby’s case the company is closed on Sunday for example.

Stay tuned to the blog to determined how the oral arguments went today. 

McCain: Oregon Dems’ workplace takeover; make it illegal to cut work hours due to ObamaCare

Democrats‘ SB 1543 would make it unlawful for an employer to cut employee hours to avoid costs and penalties of Obamacare.

Irony alert
Irony alert

Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) wants to make 30-hour work week with Obamacare benefits an enforceable civil right in Oregon.

Under current Oregon law, “The opportunity to obtain employment or housing or to use and enjoy places of public accommodation without unlawful discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, age or disability hereby is recognized as and declared to be a civil right.” ORS 659A.006(2). If Democrats in Salem have their way, Oregonians will see full-time employment and Obamacare added to the list of civil rights enforceable by civil lawsuits and the heavy boot of the Bureau of Labor and Industries or BOLI.

Senate Bill 1543 (see the bill below), sporting the name, “the Health Care Accountability Act,” sponsored by Multnomah County Democrats Michael Dembrow (SD23), Laurie Monnes Anderson (SD25) and Alissa Keny-Guyer (HD46), adds a new section to ORS chapter 659A, otherwise known by its short title, “the Oregon Equality Act.” ORS chapter 659A is Oregon’s statutory depository of civil rights legislation, including defining what acts are unlawful and specifying penalties for violations. As most Oregonians now know, it is unlawful for a Christian bakery to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple (see “Baking a BOLI Cake.”). ORS chapter 659A covers a wide spectrum of prohibited employment discrimination, from the listed protected classes above, as well as whistleblowing, family leave, employee housing, and more.

SB 1543 would add to the ever-expanding list of civil rights by making it “an unlawful employment practice for an employer to reduce the number of hours a full-time employee works solely for the purpose of preventing the employee from qualifying for coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as specified in 26 U.S.C. 4980H.” This provision deals with the so-called employer mandate of Obamacare, in which employers who employ more than 50 full-time equivalent employees must provide health insurance to those employees or face a government penalty. As widely reported this week, the Obama administration has once again delayed implementation of the employer mandate until 2016. But that does little to help Oregon employers who will be impacted by SB 1543.

Full-time Employee and Employer Mandate

Under a little known provision of the ACA, under Obamacare an employee is considered “full time” if the employee works an average of just 30 hours per week – not the 40 hours per week normally associated with full-time employment. This provision has been known for some time, evidenced by the fact that many local governments have been joining private employers in cutting back the number of hours of employees as a means to avoid the impending employer mandate. SB 1543 would outlaw that practice in Oregon and make the 30-hour work week with Obamacare benefits a de facto civil right.

Even worse, subsection (2) of section 2 contains this alarming and confusing provision: “If a full-time employee files a complaint alleging a violation of subsection (1) of this section, the employer has the burden to establish that the reduction in hours worked by the full-time employee was made in compliance with subsection (1) of this section.” This section provides what is known as “a burden shift” from one party to the other in order to prevail against the charge.

Under SB 1543, all an employee has to do is file a complaint alleging a violation of the law, and the burden then shifts to the employer to prove it did not violate the law, awkwardly worded as “made in compliance with subsection (1) of this section.” Subsection (1) of SB 1543 is not a section an employer “must comply with” but rather not violate. SB 1543 is worded so poorly, it is like telling an accused killer that he must prove he “complied with” laws prohibiting the unlawful killing of another person.

A Bonanza for BOLI

Subsection (3) of Section 2 expressly grants to an aggrieved employee the right to file a complaint directly with BOLI, while subsection (4)(a) grants to the BOLI Commissioner the authority and mandate to “enforce subsection (1) of this section in the manner provided in this chapter regarding other unlawful employment practices.” Finally, subsection (4)(b) specifies that a violation of the Health Care Accountability Act “subjects the violator to the same civil remedies and penalties as provided in ORS chapter 659A.” Those penalties can ruin a company, as Sweet Cakes by Melissa can attest.

Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-Gresham) sponsored SB 1543, which would require employers who cut their work force to prove their innocence or face penalties and damages.

Besides facing the wrath of BOLI, an employer may be sued in civil court by an aggrieved employee. Available remedies include compensatory damages (e.g. back pay, etc) as well as punitive damages and mandatory attorney fees for a prevailing plaintiff (but not a prevailing defendant). The only time a prevailing defendant employer may recover its attorney fees in such cases is “only if the court determines that the plaintiff had no objectively reasonable basis for asserting a claim.” But given the wording of SB 1543 and the accompanying burden-shift, an employee need not have an objective basis for making a complaint – the employee merely needs to file a complaint and the burden shifts to the employer to objectively prove any reduction in the employee’s hours was not solely to avoid the Obamacare employer mandate penalty.

SB 1543 is similar to, but distinct from regulations announced this week by the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service affecting small businesses (50-99 employees) and large businesses (100 or more). The new regulations implement the employer mandate, providing additional time to small and large businesses. Under the new regulations, businesses that employ between 50 and 99 full-time workers have until 2016 to comply with the employer mandate to provide health insurance. Those that claim the exemption for 2015 will need to certify under penalty of perjury that they did not reduce their workforce to fewer than 100 employees in order to qualify. While SB 1543 does not criminalize cutting full time employees as does the IRS through perjury laws, nonetheless the message to employers from Democrats in Salem and D.C. is the same:

“Do not reduce your workforce to avoid the costs or penalties of Obamacare.”

Bruce McCain is an attorney in private practice, a retired Multnomah County Sheriff’s Captain, a member of the Reynolds School Board and a member of the VictoriaTaft.com Blogforce. This piece originally was published at his blog Oregon Oracle


Senate Bill 1543 Prevents employers from firing employees because of ObamaCare

CBO study: ObamaCare kills American spirit

Tombstone American spiritThe Congressional Budget Office has released its latest ObamaCare report. CNBC reports, “A historically high number of people will be locked out of the workforce by 2021.” Why? “President Barack Obama‘s signature health-care law will contribute to this phenomenon, the CBO said, citing new estimates that the Affordable Care Act will cause a larger-than-expected reduction in working hours—eliminating the equivalent of about 2.3 million workers in 2021.

[W]orkers will choose to supply less labor–given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive…

The CBO unintentionally confirms something else besides the hollowing out of the American labor pool. Two million more workers will be sidelined and “almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor–given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive” [emphasis added].

Simply put: people will either choose to work less because of the burdens of taxation and expense of ObamaCare or will be content to sit back and take a government check. If doing for one’s self is the essence of the American spirit, then this study is not a mere observation of distortions due to government incentives. This study shows ObamaCare is nothing short of the killing of the American spirit.

Burger flipper confronts president about cut hours, minimum wage. Obama blames business.

H/T National ReviewObama min wage guy

In a ‘Google Hangout’ session on Friday, President Obama was confronted by a fry cook who wanted to know what could be done about his low pay and ObamaCare induced cut work hours. The president’s answer is another example of blame shifting and finger pointing at the ‘others’ who get in the way of his ‘hope’ narrative. The president left unanswered ObamaCare’s built-in incentive to reduce hours to avoid penalties from his own government and instead pivoted to ‘jacking more money out of employers through increases in the minimum wage. 

This should not be a surprise. Anyone who has studied this president knows he prefers to blame others for his inevitable failures rather than defending his ideas on principle and programs on results. He’s done this with Wall Street bail outs, stimulus waste, Dodd Frank’s over regulation, cash for clunkers, ObamaCare and etc., etc., etc. Corporate CEO’s, naysayers, and George Bush have been targeted by Obama for their “otherness” due to their failure to pick up the Team Obama pom poms and begin cheering. The only ones who appear not to have been targeted have been government workers themselves. In ObamaWorld, noble people work only in government and everyone else is greedy. Ever notice that? 

Pete the Banker: Aetna’s CEO on possibly quitting ObamaCare, Will we “get beat up?” by Obama?

Are we going to get beat up?

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini says there could be a scenario in which he might have to quit ObamaCare before it does too much harm to his company. 
aetna ceo
Mark Bertolini told CNBC’s Squawk Box ObamaCare ‘has failed to attract the uninsured.’ He said he’s preparing projected rates for 2015 and is afraid they could increase by double digits. He was asked if there were circumstances that would make his company get out of ObamaCare,

“Are they going to be double-digit [increases] or are we going to get beat up because they’re double-digit or are we just going to have to pull out of the program?” Bertolini asked in a “Squawk Box” interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “Those questions can’t be answered until we see the population we have today. And we really don’t have a good view on that.”
Bertolini says they’ve just rearranged the insurance deck chairs at this point, or, as CNBC put it,
He said that so far, Obamacare has just shifted people who were insured in the individual market to the public exchanges where they could get a better deal on a subsidy for coverage. “We see only 11 percent of the population is actually people that were firmly uninsured that are now insured. So [it] didn’t really eat into the uninsured population.”
I’m not a big fan of insurance companies, but I do wonder if Bertolini will “get beat up” by the Obama Administration if he doesn’t bend to its wishes. Obama’s thugocracy scares another citizen.