USian health care

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Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Abnormal, you're citing right wing ideologues on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, and National Review Online. These people are professional propagandists with no credibilty whatsoever outside the wingnut-o-sphere. If you want me to pay attention to your argument, you'll have to find some more reliable sources.

ygtbk

This is kind of interesting on multiple levels.

1) The narrow question is whether the IRS can make a regulation that reflects what it declares to be the intent of the law, rather than what's written in the law. I think allowing a regulatory agency this power is bit of a slippery slope. Interpreting an ambiguous provision is not the same as ignoring statute language.

2) It's not unknown for there to be errors in laws as passed: once detected, these are normally addressed through some kind of technical corrections bill. (This has been done for drafting errors in the Internal Revenue Code definition of life insurance, for example). The level of partisanship on Obamacare makes it seem unlikely this approach could succeed, and that has led to unilateral executive action a couple of times so far. My belief is that on big legislation it's best to take a bipartisan approach.

3) The "nobody intended covering only 50% of the country" argument cuts both ways: the way Gruber described it in 2012, and the way he's describing it now. 

josh

Gruber is not congress.  He's not even a member of congress.  His statements don't carry a lot of weight as to what congress intended

josh

Either way, the congressinal intent's the same.  There is no evidence that congress envisioned that the law would, or that it sought to, cover only part of the country. 

ygtbk

josh wrote:

Gruber is not congress.  He's not even a member of congress.  His statements don't carry a lot of weight as to what congress intended

I agree Gruber is not Congress. He is a healthcare expert who helped draft the MA healthcare reform and consulted with the Obama administration on the PPACA, but he is not Congress. Neither is he a random bystander.

Here's his wiki page. It's been edited quite recently so you might take it with a grain of salt:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Gruber_(economist)

I'm suggesting that we assess the argument "no-one intended only half the country to be covered", rather than Gruber personally. And that argument works just as strongly in favour of the "let's make the states an offer they can't refuse" interpretation as it does in favour of "it's a typo".

[Edited to fix link]

ygtbk

josh wrote:

Either way, the congressinal intent's the same.  There is no evidence that congress envisioned that the law would, or that it sought to, cover only part of the country. 

That's exactly what's at issue. I agree with you that there is no evidence that the Democrats intended to cover only half the country. But did they intend to do it by:

1) providing tax credits for federal exchanges, or

2) by strong-arming the states by _not_ providing tax credits in states where no state exchange was set up?

josh

It's not an either/or.  Clearly, they intended to provide the credits to everyone in the country who was eligible.  One way or the other.

ygtbk

josh wrote:

It's not an either/or.  Clearly, they intended to provide the credits to everyone in the country who was eligible.  One way or the other.

Except that clearly it's not clear, as I documented at posts #180 and #185 in this thread, where different courts ruled different ways.

Either Congress intended for federal exchanges to be eligible for tax credits or they didn't. That is an either/or.

josh

And it's missing the forest for the trees.

wage zombie

ygtbk

A preliminary look at 2015 individual market health insurance rate filings

Average increase (from the data as of August 27): 7.0%

wage zombie

Health care costs are going up.  Big surprise there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_insurance_costs_in_the_United_States

Quote:

From 1999 to 2009, Kaiser found that the insurance premiums had climbed 131% or 13.1% per year, and workers’ contribution toward paying that premium jumped 128% or 12.8% per year. In 1999, workers’ average contribution to the premium was $1543, and in 2009 it was $3515. For employers, their contribution was $4247 in 1999 and $9860 in 2009.

You're a big Kaiser fan, right?

So the huge 7% average rate increases you're trumpeting to slag Obamacare are actually just over half of the average yearly rate increases over the decade before Obamacare was drafted.

Additionally, this preliminary look includes only 2/3 of states, and does not include California.

I'm curious to see how the shilling you do for Republicans will change as more and more of them realize that "Obamacare Repeal" is a loser policy.

ygtbk

@WZ: my comment was addressed towards the pitfalls of cartoon-based policy analysis. But if you want to get detailed then there's no reason to leave out the 2013 premium increases, which were at least partially a result of the law. 

Additionally, I think the 8,000,000 enrollees figure is the gross number of enrollees in the exchanges during the open enrollment period, some of whom had just been booted from their old plans, and so is not really an indicator of the success of the program. See:

http://healthcare.mckinsey.com/sites/default/files/McKinsey%20Reform%20Center_Individual%20Market%20Post%20OEP%20Trends.pdf

especially pages 2 and 7.

I agree with you that repeal is looking less likely - as I noted above in conversation with DaveW, inertia is a powerful force. And I do expect enrollment to continue as people realize the penalties that they will face over time.

DaveW

contrary to forecasts, more options being offered:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/23/obamacare-competition_n_5869710.html

abnormal

ygtbk wrote:

A preliminary look at 2015 individual market health insurance rate filings

Average increase (from the data as of August 27): 7.0%

How are these rates influenced by the risk corridors and reinsurance program (those things that are being called "taxpayer bailouts") and what is going to happen when those programs expire?

ygtbk

abnormal wrote:

ygtbk wrote:

A preliminary look at 2015 individual market health insurance rate filings

Average increase (from the data as of August 27): 7.0%

How are these rates influenced by the risk corridors and reinsurance program (those things that are being called "taxpayer bailouts") and what is going to happen when those programs expire?

Good question. They are currently slated to expire in 2017 (I think). Different people think different things. For example, we have:

https://www.soa.org/library/newsletters/health-watch-newsletter/2013/october/hsn-2013-iss73-norris.aspx

which describes the mechanics of the corridor and sanguinely finishes with "well at least by 2017 we'll have some ACA pricing data" (that's a paraphrase, obviously).

On the other hand we have:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/05/27/why-the-major-test-for-obamacare-premiums-might-wait-until-2017/

which refers to:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/files/2014/05/ParenteAnalysis.pdf

which doesn't describe methodology in great detail but appears to match up with:

http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2014/07/pas_obamacare_future_looks_pre.html

The price shock to the bronze plans is pretty noticeable in 2017. If Parente and Ramlet are close to correct then there will be a political incentive to keep the risk corridor and reinsurance in place past 2017.

abnormal

@ybtk, it ain't gonna be pretty.  A lot of those rates are driven by the fact that the Feds will pick up the loss.  But when that stops you'll suddenly see companies that have massive market shares that simply say that they want an increase of "X%" where that is a really big number.  Or they're out of here.  So the end result is ....

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

I don't have the time or energy to study this subject as you, abnormal and ygtbk, obviously have. So, I ask you both: do you think that the ACA will increase 1) the total cost of medical care in the US, and 2) the premiums of most policy holders, as compared to the situation if no legislation had been passed? Do you think the legislation has had and will have a net positive effect on the well being of Americans, or a net negative? I thank you in advance for your informed opinions.

ygtbk

@ Michael: I will take a pass on the net positive / net negative question, if you don't mind, since I think it's too early to say. The employer mandate has been delayed until after the 2014 midterms, and there's obviously some concern about what 2017 will mean for individual premiums. There's also court cases on whether federally-operated exchanges are eligible for premium subsidies. As a result we really don't know the full impact yet.

It's also true that "well being of Americans" is an abstraction - the impact on different Americans will be different. If I couldn't get insurance before, because of a pre-existing condition, and now I can, then my well being has probably increased. If I had chosen a bare-bones plan before, and have now been required to buy more expensive coverage, then my well being may have decreased.

For your first question, we know that the CBO estimates federal government will spend more on coverage - almost $1.5 trillion more, net - over the next decade. See page 1 of

http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/45010-breakout-AppendixB.pdf

But that is not the same as total cost of medical care increasing by $1.5 trillion, and CBO estimates are not always right.

And to avoid misunderstanding I will very clearly note that at the bottom of page 2, the report states (my bolding):

Quote:

Those estimates address only the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA; they do not constitute all of the act’s budgetary effects. Many other provisions, on net, are projected to reduce budget deficits. Considering all of the coverage provisions and the other provisions together, CBO and JCT estimated in July 2012 (the most recent comprehensive estimates) that the total effect of the ACA would be to reduce federal deficits.

Others with informed opinions may wish to jump in.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Thanks for that, ygtbk.

abnormal

ygtbk wrote:
But that is not the same as total cost of medical care increasing by $1.5 trillion, and CBO estimates are not always right.

Not always?   In 1966 Medicare cost $3 billion.  At the time the Ways and Means Committee estimated that it would cost $12 billion in 1990 - instead it cost $107 billion (a factor of 9).

Guess that means I'm forgiven for not believing any estimates that come out of the CBO?

abnormal

On the subject of CBO estimates the numbers that they produced in support of Obamacare prior to its enactment have already proven to be wrong:

Quote:
A big concern raised by critics of ObamaCare was that employers would shift their health costs onto taxpayers — dropping insurance benefits knowing workers could access guaranteed, often subsidized coverage in an ObamaCare exchange.

Typical of the left's response was a Families USA "fact sheet" that called such worries a "myth." "Employers that offer coverage will continue to do so," it declared.

The liberal Urban Institute likewise promised the number of people covered at work "would remain largely unchanged." And the Congressional Budget Office said any such shift would be negligible — just 500,000 at most this year.

Obama himself repeatedly pledged that nothing would change for those who had coverage at work once ObamaCare went into effect.
Well, the results are in, and they disprove all of it.

The Heritage Foundation reviewed quarterly enrollment data insurers submitted to state regulators for the six months of ObamaCare's first open enrollment.

It found that between Oct. 1 and March 31, enrollment in employer plans dropped by 1.7 million. That's more than three times what the CBO projected for this year.

Meanwhile, enrollment in the individual market climbed 2.2 million over those same months.

"Almost all the gains in individual coverage through the ObamaCare exchanges," noted authors Edmund Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski, "were offset by reduced enrollment in employer sponsored group coverage." In other words, what happened was just what ObamaCare backers claimed would never, ever happen.

The study also found a big shift toward self-insured plans, as companies scrambled to avoid ObamaCare by paying worker health bills directly. Heritage found enrollment in these plans soared 2.3 million in six months.

Heritage notes that because so many enrolled in ObamaCare plans late in the game, it won't have a complete picture of the first open enrollment until second-quarter data come in. But it's already clear that millions of workers are in for a rough ride if the law remains.

Despite all the promises, many will end up losing good workplace coverage — for which they typically contribute only a portion of the premiums — in exchange for overpriced ObamaCare plans with higher deductibles and narrower provider networks.

http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-obama-care/072914-710913-study-...

 

 

 

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

So, the Heritage Foundation is now a reliable source of econometric data? Who knew?

abnormal

Numbers are numbers.  These are just summaries of data taken from filings with state regulators - interpret them any way you want.  [I don't have time to look up other sources but they all say the same thing.]

The important thing is that the estimates used to support Obamacare and (supposedly) convince people to vote for it have already been shown to be wrong.

 

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Yes, but you know what Mark Twain had to say about this subject. And this Heritage Foundation is just a right-wing propaganda chop-shop. Wingnut welfare, as some call it.

ETA: I'll bet if we had a comment on these nice, neutral numbers from a Paul Krugman or Joseph Stiglitz the impression we would get would be quite different.

nicky

Breaking bad - Canadian edition

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCHi6B6D1as

abnormal

So Michael, you don't like the source.  Please tell us how to interpret the numbers differently.  

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

As I said in the last post, I'd like to hear the opinions of some knowledgable people whose judgment I trust. I am incompetent to do any such analysis, and don't wish to make a fool of myself by trying.

ygtbk

Michael Moriarity wrote:

As I said in the last post, I'd like to hear the opinions of some knowledgable people whose judgment I trust. I am incompetent to do any such analysis, and don't wish to make a fool of myself by trying.

This is remarkably sensible, but it's sure as heck not the babble way.

abnormal

Michael Moriarity wrote:

As I said in the last post, I'd like to hear the opinions of some knowledgable people whose judgment I trust. I am incompetent to do any such analysis, and don't wish to make a fool of myself by trying.

As an observation, there is no judgement here - the numbers are the numbers.

There are two important things to take away from that.  First, the CBO's estimates are hardly reliable.  Second, those estimates (which among other things were used to support the ACA) were way off.

abnormal

But the latest court ruling is "interesting" to say the least and, unless it's overturned by the Supreme Court is going to have serious consequences.

Quote:
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma handed the Obama administration another – and a much harsher — defeat in one of four lawsuitschallenging the IRS’s attempt to implement ObamaCare’s major taxing and spending provisions where the law does not authorize them. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides that its subsidies for private health insurance, its employer mandate, and to a large extent its individual mandate only take effect within a state if the state establishes a health insurance “Exchange.” Two-thirds (36) of the states declined to establish Exchanges, which should have freed more than 50 million Americans from thosetaxes. Instead, the Obama administration decided to implement those taxes and expenditures in those 36 states anyway. Today’s ruling was in Pruitt v. Burwell, a case brought by Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt.

These cases saw two appellate-court rulings on the same day, July 22. In Halbig v. Burwella three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered the administration to stop. (The full D.C. Circuit hasagreed to review the case en banc on December 17, a move that automatically vacates the panel ruling.) In King v. Burwell, the Fourth Circuit implausibly gave the IRS the thumbs-up. (The plaintiffs have appealedthat ruling to the Supreme Court.) A fourth case, Indiana v. IRS, brought by Indiana attorney general Greg Zoeller, goes to oral arguments in federal district court on October 9.

Today, federal judge Ronald A. White issued a ruling in Pruitt that sided with Halbig against King, and eviscerated the arguments made by the (more senior) judges who sided with the government in those cases.

etc ...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelcannon/2014/09/30/pruitt-v-burwell-ir...

BTW, one of Obama's former law professors said that the IRS interpretation of the subisidies was unlikely to stand.

Quote:

The IRS issued a regulation expanding the pool of enrollees who qualify for the subsidies. Opponents of the law, such as the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon and Jonathan Adler, argue that the IRS does not have the authority to make that change. (Halbig v. Burwell, one of the lawsuits making this argument, is currently pending before the D.C. Circuit Court; the loser will likely appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.)

“There are specific rules about when and how the IRS can deviate from the plain language of a statute,” Cannon explained to National Review Online, arguing that the subsidies regulation fails to comply with those rules.

The IRS can deviate from “absurd” laws, in theory, but the subsidies language is not absurd. “It might be stupid, but that’s not the test for absurdity,” Cannon says. Similarly, the IRS can deviate in the case of scrivener’s errors — typos, basically — but this is not a typo, Cannon says, because the language was written into repeated drafts of the law.

“They not only keep that language in there, but they even inserted it, this same phrase again, right before passage while the bill was in [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid’s office,” Cannon says. “So, it’s not a scrivener’s error, either.”

Finally, the IRS could fill in ambiguous gaps in a law. The problem for the IRS, though, is that the subsidies language is not ambiguous. Even Tribe acknowledged that the language is clear, according to the Fiscal Times.

Not [url=http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/382550/obamas-law-professor-i-would... source I would normally quote[/url] but that paragraph sounds interesting to say the least.

 

 

 

 

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Well, if Laurence Tribe thinks the fate of Obamacare is a tossup, then it probably is. The interesting questions then become all about the fallout of a ruling that the federal exchange is unauthorized by the legislation. Would all the people who have received subsidies after enrolling for insurance through the federal exchange have to pay them back? Would their insurance policies even continue in force? Will the effect be sufficient to make the entire project unsustainable?

However those questions play out, I think for sure we can predict that there will be a lot of voters who will suffer real, substantial harm, and not many at all who reap benefits. Those who lose out are likely to be rather pissed off at the people who have caused this harm to them, that is, the Republican Party. There may well be several million reliably Republican voters who will be hurting enough to consider voting against their tormentors. I don't really see how it hurts the Democrats, though. Almost all of the people who want Obamacare overturned are already Republican voters, and there would be no reason for disappointed supporters of the law to switch to the Republicans.

I think it's probably going to be a disaster for the Republicans electorally in 2016 if the courts kill Obamacare.

abnormal

Michael Moriarity wrote:
Would all the people who have received subsidies after enrolling for insurance through the federal exchange have to pay them back?

Yep.

Quote:
Would their insurance policies even continue in force?

As long as they paid their premiums.

abnormal

Michael, I'm not convinced that shutting down Obamacare will be as much of a disaster for the Republicans as many think.  [As an aside, if this ruling is allowed to stand, it's not going to have much impact prior to the mid-term elections,]

Last survey I saw said that 60% of the US populace wanted to see the ACA repealed (that included those that wanted it repealed and replaced). 

But as surprisingly large number of Americans have decided to pass on Obamacare.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/what-if-you-don-t-sign-up-for-obamacare-16...

Quote:
When the federal health insurance marketplace officially debuted this time last year, Marta Hardy, 60, felt just one emotion: relief. 

At the time, Hardy, who lives in Lakeland, Ga., had gone nearly four years without insurance. She had a decent-paying job working full-time at a small manufacturing plant, but the company didn’t offer health plans. Her husband was already retired and could take advantage of Medicare. That left Hardy, who was recently diagnosed with thyroid disease and takes medication for high blood pressure, entering her 60s with no safety net. 

“I was excited to finally have an opportunity to have insurance,” she says. “Then I checked [the marketplace] and I found that the lowest tier Bronze plan was going to run me $725 per month, plus a $6,300 annual deductible. That is a house payment or two car payments for me.” 

Hardy decided not to sign up. 

snip ...

deciding between a penalty or health coverage was a simple matter of math. Signing up for a plan would have been much costlier than taking the penalty and continuing to pay out of pocket. 

“I go to the doctor several times every year and still does not add up to what my insurance premium would have been under Obamacare,” she says. “I’m glad there’s something out there for people who can’t get insured, but there are people who are working and paying their bills and trying to follow the rules and it’s not even within our reach.” 

More than 8 million Americans purchased new health plans in 2014, but there are still an estimated 41 million American adults left uninsured in the U.S., according to the CDC.

etc ...

emphasis added.

 

 

 

 

abnormal

For the record, Obama lied (and in the real world he'd be in jail for his claims)

Quote:

When President Barack Obama was promoting passage of health reform, he promised that the average American family would save $2,500 a year on health insurance costs. But since the law passed in 2010, costs have risen by more than $5,000.

According to a report by the actuarial firm Milliman, a typical employer family plan cost a total of $18,074 in 2010 and $23,215 in 2014 — counting employer, employee and out-of-pocket costs.

The Affordable Care Act is not more affordable for those with employer coverage, and certainly not for taxpayers. A new study from Bloomberg Government found that the health law so far has cost taxpayers $73 billion — including $2 billion on the website.

etc ,,,

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20141006-grace-marie-tu...

 

 

 

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

abnormal wrote:

Michael, I'm not convinced that shutting down Obamacare will be as much of a disaster for the Republicans as many think.  [As an aside, if this ruling is allowed to stand, it's not going to have much impact prior to the mid-term elections,]

No, I don't think so either, which is why I mentioned 2016 in my last post.

Quote:

Last survey I saw said that 60% of the US populace wanted to see the ACA repealed (that included those that wanted it repealed and replaced). 

But as surprisingly large number of Americans have decided to pass on Obamacare.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/what-if-you-don-t-sign-up-for-obamacare-16...

Quote:
When the federal health insurance marketplace officially debuted this time last year, Marta Hardy, 60, felt just one emotion: relief. 

At the time, Hardy, who lives in Lakeland, Ga., had gone nearly four years without insurance. She had a decent-paying job working full-time at a small manufacturing plant, but the company didn’t offer health plans. Her husband was already retired and could take advantage of Medicare. That left Hardy, who was recently diagnosed with thyroid disease and takes medication for high blood pressure, entering her 60s with no safety net. 

“I was excited to finally have an opportunity to have insurance,” she says. “Then I checked [the marketplace] and I found that the lowest tier Bronze plan was going to run me $725 per month, plus a $6,300 annual deductible. That is a house payment or two car payments for me.” 

Hardy decided not to sign up. 

snip ...

deciding between a penalty or health coverage was a simple matter of math. Signing up for a plan would have been much costlier than taking the penalty and continuing to pay out of pocket. 

“I go to the doctor several times every year and still does not add up to what my insurance premium would have been under Obamacare,” she says. “I’m glad there’s something out there for people who can’t get insured, but there are people who are working and paying their bills and trying to follow the rules and it’s not even within our reach.” 

More than 8 million Americans purchased new health plans in 2014, but there are still an estimated 41 million American adults left uninsured in the U.S., according to the CDC.

etc ...

emphasis added.

Well, there are plenty of reasons why people haven't signed up for Obamacare, and this story is probably typical. However, electorally the "more than 8 million" who now have benefits that may be taken away before 2016 are the significant ones. In fact, I suspect that those 41 million uninsured have a much lower than average voting rate. We'll just have to wait and see how it turns out.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

abnormal wrote:

For the record, Obama lied (and in the real world he'd be in jail for his claims)

Quote:

When President Barack Obama was promoting passage of health reform, he promised that the average American family would save $2,500 a year on health insurance costs. But since the law passed in 2010, costs have risen by more than $5,000.

According to a report by the actuarial firm Milliman, a typical employer family plan cost a total of $18,074 in 2010 and $23,215 in 2014 — counting employer, employee and out-of-pocket costs.

The Affordable Care Act is not more affordable for those with employer coverage, and certainly not for taxpayers. A new study from Bloomberg Government found that the health law so far has cost taxpayers $73 billion — including $2 billion on the website.

etc ,,,

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20141006-grace-marie-tu...

Well, if U.S. politicians were routinely imprisoned for lies like this one, none of the former U.S. Presidents and very few current or former members of Congress would still be at large.

 

abnormal

Michael Moriarity wrote:
Well, if U.S. politicians were routinely imprisoned for lies like this one, none of the former U.S. Presidents and very few current or former members of Congress would still be at large.

For the record, and speaking entirely from memory, didn't someone try to sue some Canadian politicians for failing to even try to implement their election promises.  I may be completely wrong but I think it was BC NDP?

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

It certainly could have happened, but I don't recall it. As a former lawyer, I think it would be a difficult case to win.

abnormal

josh wrote:

It's not an either/or.  Clearly, they intended to provide the credits to everyone in the country who was eligible.  One way or the other.

Problem is, the issue is not one of intent.  The court ruling makes it clear that it's a question of what the law actually says.  Not what the authors wanted it to say.  Unless the Supreme Court rules otherwise that's the law of the land.

ygtbk
ygtbk

And this is useful background:

http://reason.com/blog/2014/11/10/watch-obamacare-architect-jonathan-grube

Quote:

Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.

abnormal

That's not the only time Gruber has made remarks like that.  Not fond of the source but it's 

http://dailycaller.com/2014/11/11/yet-another-video-emerges-of-obamacare...

 

 

abnormal

BTW, Gruber has also gone on record as saying that the intent of the law was to deny subsidies to residents of states that did not establish their own exchanges (i.e., people insured thru federal exchanges would not receive subsidies).  And that's what the Supreme Court has agreed to hear.

Quote:
In his remarks, Gruber urged state governments to set up their own health insurance exchanges. A member of the audience asked: “It’s my understanding that if states don’t provide [exchanges], then the federal government will provide them for the states.”

Gruber responded: “What’s important to remember politically about [Obamacare] is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2014/07/25/obamacare-architect...

 

 

ygtbk

It would be amusing, entertaining, and informative to get Gruber under oath. I know it won't be at the Supreme Court, but somewhere...

ygtbk

Starting to think that Gruber is a deep-cover Republican mole:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/14/politics/gruber-update-friday-white-house-obamacare/index.html

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

ygtbk wrote:

It would be amusing, entertaining, and informative to get Gruber under oath. I know it won't be at the Supreme Court, but somewhere...

It sounds as if one or more congressional committees may call him as a witness. That would be under oath. I read today that he was also one of the main advisors to Governor Mitt Romney when he was designing the Massachusetts healthcare plan, upon which the ACA was based. So he has extracted no doubt excessive consulting fees from both Republicans and Democrats for the same bad advice on health care. That's what makes their country great.

josh

abnormal wrote:

BTW, Gruber has also gone on record as saying that the intent of the law was to deny subsidies to residents of states that did not establish their own exchanges (i.e., people insured thru federal exchanges would not receive subsidies).  And that's what the Supreme Court has agreed to hear.

Quote:
In his remarks, Gruber urged state governments to set up their own health insurance exchanges. A member of the audience asked: “It’s my understanding that if states don’t provide [exchanges], then the federal government will provide them for the states.”

Gruber responded: “What’s important to remember politically about [Obamacare] is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2014/07/25/obamacare-architect...

 

 

Unfortunately for opponents, it's the intent of those who actually voted to pass the law that is controlling. They intended to enact a law that would cover the entire country, not only to states that agreed to set up exchanges. It is a maxim of statutory construction that a literal reading should not lead to an absurd result, or clearly expressed legislative intent. Particularly where it appears to be, as here, a drafting error.

ygtbk

@ josh: 

You may be right, but it's by no means obvious that there's an absurd result here. Gruber has articulated a non-absurd (although obnoxious) possible intended result of the statutory language as it stands. As we know, he helped draft the law.

Did you see the link I posted at #240? I lack faith in the U.S. Supreme Court, but we're going to have to see what they say about this.

abnormal

josh wrote:
Unfortunately for opponents, it's the intent of those who actually voted to pass the law that is controlling. They intended to enact a law that would cover the entire country, not only to states that agreed to set up exchanges. It is a maxim of statutory construction that a literal reading should not lead to an absurd result, or clearly expressed legislative intent. Particularly where it appears to be, as here, a drafting error.

That's not clear.  The law, as written, is clear and unambiguous.  And that's what the courts have to address - the language of the law, not the intent.  (BTW, it's not a drafting error either - the language has survived numerous drafts and it was actually inserted again while it was in Reid's office.)

According to one of Obama's former law school profs, when addressing the issue of when the IRS can deviate from the language of the statute:

Quote:
“There are specific rules about when and how the IRS can deviate from the plain language of a statute,” Cannon explained to National Review Online, arguing that the subsidies regulation fails to comply with those rules.

The IRS can deviate from “absurd” laws, in theory, but the subsidies language is not absurd. “It might be stupid, but that’s not the test for absurdity,” Cannon says. Similarly, the IRS can deviate in the case of scrivener’s errors — typos, basically — but this is not a typo, Cannon says, because the language was written into repeated drafts of the law.

“They not only keep that language in there, but they even inserted it, this same phrase again, right before passage while the bill was in [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid’s office,” Cannon says. “So, it’s not a scrivener’s error, either.”

Finally, the IRS could fill in ambiguous gaps in a law. The problem for the IRS, though, is that the subsidies language is not ambiguous. Even Tribe acknowledged that the language is clear, according to the Fiscal Times.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/382550/obamas-law-professor-i-would...

 

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