Archive for November, 2011
Health Care News
When the Supreme Court agreed this month to hear the Obamacare constitutional challenge, it didn’t surprise most Court watchers, but the amount of time it set aside for oral argument is highly unusual. That is surprising for a few reasons, most of which should be unsettling to the current administration that is defending the law. The Supreme Court’s Nov. 14 orders were a bit ambiguous on one point, but it seems to have scheduled 5 ½ hours of oral argument on issues related to the one case brought by 26 states and the NFIB. That is 5.5 times the amount allotted for the vast majority of cases the Court hears.
In recent decades, the Court generally sets a maximum of 60 minutes for oral argument in each case (usually divided 30 minutes per side), even for complex and high-profile matters that may involve two or more consolidated cases or three or more legal issues to resolve. Each year, the Court might expand oral argument in one or two cases to 90 minutes. The Court allowed 90 minutes of argument for the two appeals in the presidential recount struggle that led to Bush v. Gore (2000). More recent examples include Citizens United v. FEC (2010) (the campaign finance case President Obama tried to politicize), District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) (the DC gun case), and Boumediene v. Bush (2008) (involving detainees in Guantanamo) to name a few, were all under 90 minutes. But the argument regarding the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law in McConnell v. FEC (2003) was the only one that was over two hours in the last decade.
In the Court’s earliest days, written briefs were not even required and oral arguments could last for days on end. Oral argument in the landmark cases McCullough v. Maryland (1819) and Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) lasted nine and five days respectively. In fact, it was not until 1849 that the Court set a limit for oral argument, allocating two hours per side and requiring the parties to file briefs setting forth their arguments before the oral argument. Over the years, the Court reduced oral argument from two hours per side, to 90 minutes per side, and then to 60 minutes per side. In the 1970s, the Court reduced the time to the current 30 minutes per side. The Court sometimes allows or requires one side to split its 30 minutes (e.g., granting the U.S. Solicitor General 10 minutes of one side’s time), but it rarely grants additional time than the hour allotted, and when it does so, it is usually 10, 20, or 30 extra minutes total. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
While the White House continues its rhetoric on job creation, the job-killing effects of Obamacare are already taking effect. One provision of the law, its tax on medical device manufacturers, is already having a detrimental impact on a Michigan-based manufacturer.
Stryker Corporation has announced that it will cut approximately 5 percent of its workforce by 2013 due to the tax. As Heritage has shown, this isn’t the first device manufacturer to voice concerns about job loss in the U.S. resulting from the tax, and it is sure not to be the last.
Over 110 jobs will be cut in Kalamazoo alone, bad news for a state already facing over 11 percent unemployment. According to the firm:
The targeted reductions and other restructuring activities are being initiated to provide efficiencies and realign resources in advance of the new Medical Device Excise Tax scheduled to begin in 2013. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
A recent Gallup poll revealed that 47 percent of Americans—a plurality—support repeal of Obamacare. While the reasons for the law’s unpopularity are limitless, its broken CLASS program and unsuccessful small business tax credit may play a role.
A few weeks ago, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would halt implementation of the CLASS program, the government-run long-term care program created by the health care law, since it was unsustainable and unworkable. This put CLASS on life support, but since it isn’t dead yet, its repeal is crucial.
Earlier this week, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee moved legislation by Representative Charles Boustany (R–LA) one step closer to the President’s desk to repeal the CLASS Act. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
Where can Congress’ “super committee” find its $1.2-trillion target in savings?
The answer is hidden in plain sight. The money could come from Obamacare, to avoid implementing its huge expenses. Repealing the health care law would solve the super committee’s dilemma, yielding more than enough savings to fulfill their mission.
Yet Obamacare has been placed “off-limits” for no good reason.
“Anyone tracking the super committee has heard the mantra: Everything is on the table. But there’s one big item that doesn’t appear to be on that gigantic deficit-cutting table: President Barack Obama’s health reform law, his signature domestic achievement.”
By itself, repeal of Obamacare would more than fulfill the mission assigned to the super committee. If we didn’t have the expense of Obamacare, it would save more than the $1.2-trillion in savings they are supposed to find over the next 10 years. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
The Supreme Court’s announcement on Monday that it will consider the constitutionality of some of Obamacare’s provisions, including the individual mandate, has reignited discussion of the health care law’s many problematic provisions. In addition to increasing insurance premiums and hampering job growth, Obamacare poses significant threats to the religious liberty of institutions and individuals and could have a serious negative impact on families.
For Belmont Abbey, a private Catholic college located in North Carolina, the most serious impact is Obamacare’s threats to religious freedom and conscience rights. Late last week, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty announced it is suing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on behalf of Belmont Abbey over a new mandate that would force the college to provide insurance plans for students and employees that cover procedures and prescriptions the college finds morally objectionable. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
Just as the Supreme Court has decided to take up the court cases challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare, a new Gallup poll shows that the plurality of Americans–including even a plurality of independents–want to see the law repealed. Meanwhile, a new survey by the PwC Health Research Institute shows that health care and the deficit are tied as the second-most important issue in the presidential election, after jobs.
Gallup reports that, “Given a choice, 47% of Americans favor repealing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while 42% want it kept in place.” Breaking the numbers down by party affiliation, 80 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of independents, and 21 percent of Democrats are in favor of repealing the law. Among those who want to see it repealed, Gallup says that “66 percent of those favoring its repeal [say] it is very important that Congress take this action.” (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
It’s official. The Supreme Court will consider challenges to Obamacare stemming from the Eleventh Circuit decision striking down the law’s individual mandate.
In that case, 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) partially won their suit, claiming that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) should be voided as unconstitutional. The Eleventh Circuit ruled that the mandate — considered by many to be the linchpin of the overhaul of the U.S. health system — was unconstitutional. But the court declined to strike down the law in its entirety.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments on a number of issues raised in the suit: severability, Medicaid, and the Anti-Injunction Act, to name a few. Specifically, it will hear arguments on whether Congress “had the power under Article I of the Constitution to enact the minimum coverage provision.” (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
As expected, the Supreme Court has decided to take up the court cases challenging Obamacare’s individual mandate and the question of whether the whole law should be struck down if the Court finds the mandate unconstitutional. This is another important step toward undoing this unpopular and unworkable health care law.
Recall the process by which the law came to be: Due to the special circumstances of Senator Scott Brown’s election, the House and Senate (under duress) jammed through the poorly drafted health care law, bypassing the normal conference process intended to smooth out what is now a complex and unworkable law.
Proponents also resorted to using Washington budget gimmicks to make sure that on paper the law would reach a favorable 10-year score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). But even these gimmicks have been exposed. Most recently, the Administration’s setback on the CLASS Act underscores the frailty and uncertainty of the law’s provisions. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
Last week’s Des Moines Register’s editorial page takes a sardonic view of the majority of Americans (51 percent as of last week) who are opposed to the health reform law. Saying they are trashing the law they call Obamacare—a word that supporters have openly embraced because of its widespread usage—the editorial charges “if you don’t agree with the law, then don’t use anything it offers.”
Oh, if it was only that simple. While the editorial correctly notes that Obamacare is not a full government takeover of the private health sector, it is a massive exercise in federal micromanagement of private coverage that will dramatically reduce patient options.
Let’s examine a few ways the Des Moines Register says Americans could bypass Obamacare. According to the editorial, the public should find a new health plan if they have moral issues with mandated preventive services that now fund contraceptives. Hello—mandated preventive services means no insurer can back out of the requirement without paying huge fines. (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
Even without Obamacare, the United States faces rising health care costs and an economy struggling to recover from the recent downturn. Despite its supporters’ promises, the health care law does not solve these problems. A study released today by the National Federation of Independent Business highlights the impact of Obamacare’s new health insurance tax alone on Americans’ health care costs and the health of the economy.
Obamacare institutes a premium tax on health insurers that offer full coverage beginning in 2014. Before it became law, Heritage expert Edmund Haislmaier wrote that such a tax would increase health care costs, increase taxes, create new inequities, be disingenuous, create perverse incentives, distort the market, and expand federal power.
In a recent study by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman showed that this tax will increase insurance premiums by, on average, 1.9 to 2.3 percent in 2014. The impact will grow with time, reaching 2.8 to 3.7 percent by 2023. Like the nominal premium increases occurring due to already-enacted parts of Obamacare, these may sound insignificant on their own. But the cumulative impact—in conjunction with cost increases that would have occurred anyhow—will be much higher premiums for families and individuals: “For small group coverage, this will on average increase the cost to cover an individual by about $2,800, and a family by about $6,800 over a ten-year period, beginning in 2014.” (Read the rest on The Foundry…)
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