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7/25/2013 12:54:00 PM
Commentary: ObamaCare battle takes bizarre turn
By: Byron York


The Affordable Care Act originally passed the House in 2009 with 220 votes, all but one of them Democrats. Recently 251 members of the House, including 22 Democrats, voted to postpone for one year implementation of the heart of the act -- the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. If this were any other issue, liberal commentators might see a governing majority emerging in favor of delaying Obamacare.

In the last couple of years, House Republicans have voted over and over to repeal the president's health care plan. It got to be routine. Not long ago, however, the Obamacare battle took a turn toward the bizarre.

The cause was the administration's decision to delay by one year the mandate requiring big businesses to provide health coverage for employees or pay a fine. The White House acted in response to complaints from business owners, who called the mandate burdensome.

So Republicans thought: What about all those individuals out there who believe the mandate requiring them to buy coverage or pay a fine is just as burdensome? As the GOP saw it, the White House listened to big business but ignored the little guy.

So Republicans came up with a two-part strategy that would, among other goals, sound out House Democrats' attitudes toward Obamacare less than three months before it is to become a reality in American life.

First, Republicans introduced a bill that would write into law what the president had already done by fiat -- that is, delay the employer mandate a year. That seemed unnecessary, and a little mischievous, but the serious point, according to one House GOP aide, was to emphasize that "the president can't just determine which laws he's going to follow and when he's going to follow them."

Even though it was largely moot, Obama took the move seriously enough to take the somewhat odd action of threatening to veto a bill that would duplicate his own policy. And when the White House argued that the postponement legislation "would cost millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage and care they deserve" -- remember, the bill would simply codify an action Obama had already taken -- the White House's position veered into the surreal.

The House voted on July 17, and in the end 35 Democrats voted in favor of the president's delay, while 160 voted against it. It's hard to interpret exactly what that means, but it doesn't seem good for Obama.

The second part of the GOP strategy was introducing the bill that would delay the individual mandate the same way Obama had delayed the employer mandate. The purpose, Speaker John Boehner said in a special floor appearance, was "to make sure families and individuals get the same break from Obamacare that the president wants for big businesses." The 22 Democratic votes in favor of the delay provided another sign that doesn't look good for the president. Boehner sent out a press release claiming "bipartisan opposition to a partisan train wreck."

Seemingly unsteadied by a turn of events that included his own threat to veto himself, Obama took to the White House East Room for an Obamacare pep rally. The Republicans were clearly on his mind.

"Yesterday, despite all the evidence that the law is working the way it was supposed to for middle-class Americans, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted -- for nearly the 40th time -- to dismantle it," the president said. "We've got a lot of problems in this country ... and yet, instead we're refighting these old battles."

Perhaps the battles would indeed be old if Democrats had written a law that went into effect a year or even two years after it was passed. But Obamacare became law more than three years ago and still hasn't gone into effect. Of course the battle is still going on.

Now the House bills go to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where they will die. But Republicans will try to ensure a noisy death. "We can make sure it doesn't get bottled up in committee," says one Senate GOP aide, "and then try to attach it to something on the floor." That means there will at least be some debate on the delays, even though Majority Leader Harry Reid will never allow a vote on them.

And after that? Republicans don't quite know. But they are confident that the coming implementation of Obamacare will give them more chances to undermine the health care law. "We had these two votes," says the GOP House aide, "because the president gave us an opportunity to take another whack at it."



(Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.)


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Article comment by: Genuine Information

Reality check time: No, conservatives and progressives, ObamaCare is not socialized medicine. It's a bail-out for Big Insurance. Marshall Aierback of the The Roosevelt Institute (not even close to being a conservative organization) said:

"We’ve had a bailout for bankers and now the principle seems to be extended to the insurance industry. As Randy Wray and I discussed in a recent paper, the health care bill just signed into law entrenches the centrality of private health insurance companies and contain no serious proposals to limit costs. More people will get hit with deductions, co-pays, annual limits (for several more years), exclusions, out of pocket expenses. This will ensure that health CARE remains too expensive to actually take advantage of their new INSURANCE. And many currently insured people are going to get higher taxes. Premiums will rise."

http://www.rooseveltinstitute.org/new-roosevelt/obamacare-health-insurance-subsidy-not-health-care-reform

"Dr Rich" of the Covert Rationing blog wrote:

"In return for its support in the healthcare reform battle, President Obama offered the insurance industry the graceful exit strategy it so desperately needed. Under Obamacare, for at least a few years the insurers hope to get One Last Windfall – namely, profits from the influx of previously-uninsured Americans whose premiums will be paid, or at least subsidized, by taxpayers. Here, the insurers are relying on the likelihood that the inflow of new premiums will, for a year or two at least, greatly outweigh the outflow of money they will have to spend caring for these new subscribers. Obviously, they will use every trick in their well-worn book to stave off expenditures for these new subscribers for as long as they can, but if they actually knew how to avoid paying healthcare costs indefinitely, they wouldn’t be seeking a government bail-out today. In any case, an inflow of new subscribers will be a very temporary source of profit for insurers. Hence, at best it is One Last Windfall."

http://covertrationingblog.com/weird-fact-about-insurance-companies/why-the-health-insurance-industry-supported-obamacare

We're being duped. The Repubs and Dems are holding hands under the table even while they are verbally blasting each other. it's political theater, pure and simple...


Posted: Monday, August 5, 2013
Article comment by: @ M J

Hey MJ's point, I think, was truth in advertising.

What about the lucky souls who quit other gainful employment for something that looked better? Only to find out it was much less than what they had.

Of course, they could quit again and go hunting some more. But the gubberment isn't supposed to be engaged in these kind of games. If it had been Walmart or a building contractor, most folks would have been more careful.


Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Wake Up.It keeps the Large Corporations from opening more Departments and hiring thousands.Sounds good look at all the job's.
All part time no benefits,no insurance nada
and the profits keep rollin.
After all the corps need the extra year to implement the plan.
Where did that fat envelope go?You know the fat envelope.
Our Corp has 2000 departments with 49 part timers per department.Just so happens we don't have to comply.Have a nice day Uncle Sam.Plus were going to hire contract labor an
let them do and pay their taxes themselves.


Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Article comment by: M J

Re: Hey MJ,
sooooooo.... let me take a wild guess..... findin' a DIFFERENT job is out of the question....
wait...
wait...
I know what happened.....
the police with big nasty guns MADE those people sign up and keep those jobs.... and allllll without health care.....


Posted: Monday, July 29, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ Itsy Bitsy Spider:
That makes more sense than Bryon York's version. According to everything I've read, the employer mandate was shoved forward because the Obama Administration couldn't get the insurance exchanges working in time. Without the exchanges, businesses won't see any of the promised savings. Without punitive penalties, many would drop the coverage they currently offer.

But somehow, I can't believe the insurance industry doesn't realize it will be tossed under the bus the instant its mandates are fully realized.


Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013
Article comment by: Hey MJ,

Did you see where our government is opening toll-free call centers where folks can get information about Obamacare?

Lots of government jobs. A California office--one of three--posted a listing of 204 FULL TIME JOBS that drew about 7000 applicants.

There was a little glitch, though. After being hired, about half the workers were told they did NOT have full-time jobs. They were "part-time intermittent" workers with NO HEALTH BENEFITS.

Uh-oh.

Contra County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff called the hiring process a "comedy of errors." But the part-timers were not amused when told they'd have to foot the bill for a health insurance plan that ranges from $600 to $2900 per month, depending on age and marital status.

Read all about it: http://www.contracostatimes.com/rss/ci_23733819


Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

Poppycock, Ms. Jane. Please try to see past your ideological blinkers.

From it's inception in 1993, every iteration of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was designed to be unworkable unless the health insurance industry got everything it wanted: fully enforceable employer mandate, fully enforceable individual mandate, and a slice of the entitlements pie. This program is backed by Democrats far more powerful than Barrack Obama AND by Republicans far more subtle than Paul Ryan. They were thwarted by a public that didn't want a president who could make it work well enough to transition into nationalized health care when it failed to contain either medical or insurance costs.

That's how totalitarian states are formed. You know, like Mussolini and Lenin.

The worst thing Joe Six-pack could do at the moment is try to pull Horatio off the bridge.


Posted: Saturday, July 27, 2013
Article comment by: M J

All of a sudden like.... the Unions have pulled their collective heads out of their .... well ... you know... about obamacare. Following is a letter from the Unions to Reid and Pelosi.

Dear Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi:

When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.

Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.

Now this vision has come back to haunt us.

Since the ACA was enacted, we have been bringing our deep concerns to the Administration, seeking reasonable regulatory interpretations to the statute that would help prevent the destruction of non-profit health plans. As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies. This is especially stinging because other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances. Most disconcerting of course is last week’s huge accommodation for the employer community—extending the statutorily mandated “December 31, 2013” deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.

Time is running out: Congress wrote this law we voted for you. We have a problem you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios:

First, the law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ work hours below 30 hours a week. Numerous employers have begun to cut workers’ hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly. The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits.

Second, millions of Americans are covered by non-profit health insurance plans like the ones in which most of our members participate. These non-profit plans are governed jointly by unions and companies under the Taft-Hartley Act. Our health plans have been built over decades by working men and women. Under the ACA as interpreted by the Administration, our employees will treated differently and not be eligible for subsidies afforded other citizens. As such, many employees will be relegated to second-class status and shut out of the help the law offers to for-profit insurance plans.

And finally, even though non-profit plans like ours won’t receive the same subsidies as for-profit plans, they’ll be taxed to pay for those subsidies. Taken together, these restrictions will make non-profit plans like ours unsustainable, and will undermine the health-care market of viable alternatives to the big health insurance companies.

On behalf of the millions of working men and women we represent and the families they support, we can no longer stand silent in the face of elements of the Affordable Care Act that will destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.

We believe that there are common-sense corrections that can be made within the existing statute that will allow our members to continue to keep their current health plans and benefits just as you and the President pledged. Unless changes are made, however, that promise is hollow.

We continue to stand behind real health care reform, but the law as it stands will hurt millions of Americans including the members of our respective unions.

We are looking to you to make sure these changes are made.

James P. Hoffa
General President
International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Joseph Hansen
International President
UFCW

D. Taylor
President
UNITE-HERE


Posted: Saturday, July 27, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Jane

The T-Party curmudgeons are pushing the Republican party into obscurity. Republicans let a small percentage of fascist, racist maniacs determine party platforms by controlling the primaries.

Think back to RR and Barry Goldwater. You know, those guys the T-Party faithful call Liberals.

If the Republicans and their Insurance Lobbyist cohorts do not relent and make the system work, we will end up with a nationalized health care system


Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ Recall? Support Republicans?
Re: "The repubs idea of healthcare is, as Jan Brewer suggested, go to the ER for 'free' care."

Is that why she's shoving AHCCCS expansion on all of us via taxing hospitals?


Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013
Article comment by: M J

IRS employees have a prominent role in Obamacare, but their union wants no part of the law.

National Treasury Employees Union officials are urging members to write their congressional representatives in opposition to receiving coverage through President Obama’s health care law.

The union leaders are providing members with a form letter to send to the congressmen that says “I am very concerned about legislation that has been introduced by Congressman Dave Camp to push federal employees out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and into the insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act.” - JOEL GEHRKE

http://www.nteu.org/

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa
HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa
HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa



Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013
Article comment by: It seems to me:

Republicans and Democrats are equally culpable.

Real health insurance reform would have been enough in the 1990's, when the American people began to rebel against the rising costs/rising rates/managed-care/shifting costs spiral.

That, businesses and individuals could have resolved without government involvement, simply by continuing to drop their coverage until the health-care providers and health insurers both dropped their rates.

Now, we have a nation convinced no one can live without health insurance, and our government is threatening to drive insurers out of business unless taxpayers subsidize unlimited payouts for pre-existing conditions.

This is truly surreal.

Everyone's forgotten that rising health-care costs, fueled by easy access to health insurance, began the spiral.





Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013
Article comment by: Carlos Danger

obamacare is as messed up as a soup sandwich


Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013
Article comment by: Why the Heck can't this be solved?

Why can't this issue be solved? There are numerous other countries who have national heathcare, and have hadn't for years! It can't simply be a financial issue, considering America is one of the wealthiest nations, even during a recession. It can't be because the people don't want it, both sides seem to agree at least on some points, that this is good for our nation. So what's the deal? Seems obvious that too many hands would have to get out of the cookie jar, so they'll fight like hell to keep their pockets lined and our citizens healthy be damned! We need to stand as a nation, not republicans or democrats, considering both parties are like a cancer to us all in one way or another. We need to tell them we are not taking their inability to do what's really right for us, not them. The longer we fight, demo vs. repub the more they win!

Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Jane

This is not about redistribution of wealth, as the T-Party malcontents would have you believe.

ObamaCare came about because the GOP refused to rein in the abuses of the Health Insurance Co.s lest they lose the big bribes they receive from the Insurance Lobbyists. The Insurance lobby is still hard at work pushing their GOP cronies to somehow gut this juggernaut before they have to start cutting CEO bonuses and GOP bribes.

The GOP channel (FOX) absolutely will not relent with their foolish, partisan antics.

Socialism is a response to despotic, fascist rule. Think Mussolini and Lenin. With the GOP refusing to learn from history, we may indeed end up somewhere we really didn't intend to be!



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