In Florida, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson has rejected an effort by the Obama Administration to dismiss a challenge of the health care law and has ordered the case to proceed — even criticizing the position of the Administration as “Alice in Wonderland” arguments.
While dismissing a couple claims, Vinson allowed two of the major counts to go forward: the states’ challenge to the controversial requirement that nearly all Americans buy insurance and a required expansion of the Medicaid program. The former is the issue that was the subject of a prior column where I expressed concern over the constitutionality of the law. I also previously told congressional members and staff that I believed that this approach was unnecessary to achieve these results and would raise serious constitutional questions.
Vinson noted that the Democrats claimed at different times that the mandate was a penalty and a tax. He ruled that it is in fact a penalty. In stinging language, Vinson noted “Congress should not be permitted to secure and cast politically difficult votes on controversial legislation by deliberately calling something one thing, after which the defenders of that legislation take an “Alice-in-Wonderland” tack and argue in court that Congress really meant something else entirely, thereby circumventing the safeguard that exists to keep their broad power in check.”
We previously discussed the shifting between the insistence that this is a tax versus a penalty in public statements — a failure of the Administration to adopt a consistent public position despite its obvious importance to the anticipated litigation. This lawsuit was filed minutes after President Obama signed the bill. This is a rather embarrassing failure of the Justice Department and White House counsel to educate Democratic leaders, including President Obama, on the need to adopt a consistent position of the mandate as a tax.
Vinson acknowledged that a district judge in Michigan upheld the power of Congress in another challenge, but ruled that the issue is not settled and that these powers claimed by Congress “have never been applied in such a manner before.”
The Florida lawsuit was filed on behalf of 20 states.
43 thoughts on “Federal Court Rules Challenge To Federal Health Care Law Can Go Forward”
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5 freedoms you’d lose in health care reform
If you read the fine print in the Congressional plans, you’ll find that a lot of cherished aspects of the current system would disappear.
NEW YORK (Fortune) — In promoting his health-care agenda, President Obama has repeatedly reassured Americans that they can keep their existing health plans — and that the benefits and access they prize will be enhanced through reform.
A close reading of the two main bills, one backed by Democrats in the House and the other issued by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s Health committee, contradict the President’s assurances. To be sure, it isn’t easy to comb through their 2,000 pages of tortured legal language. But page by page, the bills reveal a web of restrictions, fines, and mandates that would radically change your health-care coverage.
If you prize choosing your own cardiologist or urologist under your company’s Preferred Provider Organization plan (PPO), if your employer rewards your non-smoking, healthy lifestyle with reduced premiums, if you love the bargain Health Savings Account (HSA) that insures you just for the essentials, or if you simply take comfort in the freedom to spend your own money for a policy that covers the newest drugs and diagnostic tests — you may be shocked to learn that you could lose all of those good things under the rules proposed in the two bills that herald a health-care revolution.
In short, the Obama platform would mandate extremely full, expensive, and highly subsidized coverage — including a lot of benefits people would never pay for with their own money — but deliver it through a highly restrictive, HMO-style plan that will determine what care and tests you can and can’t have. It’s a revolution, all right, but in the wrong direction.
Let’s explore the five freedoms that Americans would lose under Obamacare:
Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf said Friday that ObamaCare includes work disincentives likely to shrink the amount of labor used in the economy.
In a speech on ObamaCare’s economic impact outside the health care sector, Elmendorf said that those effects will primarily be related to the labor market and “will probably be small.”
Factoring in additional demand for workers in health care and insurance, CBO estimates that “the legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by roughly half a percent,” he said.
The reason: The expansion of Medicaid and new health insurance subsidies will reduce “the amount of labor that workers choose to supply.”
(For perspective, half a percent of current payrolls is 651,000 jobs, though the impact would show up in both fewer jobs and fewer hours worked.)
The conclusion isn’t a surprising one; any extra support from the government takes some pressure off of workers to provide for themselves. However, ObamaCare’s progressive subsidies, i.e. more generous for those who earn less, carry more of a disincentive than the flat, universal benefit favored by some Republicans.
As Capital Hill has noted previously, work disincentives will be particularly strong for older workers because both health care premiums and the law’s subsidies grow much bigger with age.
Further, the new health law will give some older households without access to employer care a big incentive not to earn too much. That’s because earning more than 400% of the poverty level would make them ineligible for subsidies that may be well in excess of $10,000 for couples.
Consider this example of a single individual age 62 in a high-cost area and no access to employer care. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Health Reform Subsidy Calculator:
* At 200% of the poverty level, or $23,000 in income in 2014, an individual would get $10,750 in premium subsidies.
* At 400% of the poverty level, or $46,000, an individual would get $7,830 in premium subsidies.
* And at 401% of the poverty level, an individual would get no government support.
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