From the we are in good hands department – Washington Examiner: “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a House panel Wednesday that nobody knows how many Obamacare enrollees have actually paid their health insurance bills. . . . ‘How can it be that HHS, in charge of this program, cites a number, 4.2 million people signed up, but has no idea how many people have paid?’ Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., asked.”
Wall St. Journal: “ObamaCare’s implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care Act—the individual mandate. To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty. This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the Health and Human Services Department didn’t think the details were worth discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet. Instead, the mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to preserve some health plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare benefit and redistribution mandates. Our sources only noticed the change this week. That seven-page technical bulletin includes a paragraph and footnote that casually mention that a rule in a separate December 2013 bulletin would be extended for two more years, until 2016. Lo and behold, it turns out this second rule, which was supposed to last for only a year, allows Americans whose coverage was cancelled to opt out of the mandate altogether.”
The IRS is tasked under Obamacare to administer the many tax provisions contained in the law. It created a website to educate people about the tax provisions at www.irs.gov/uac/Affordable-Care-Act-Tax-Provisions-Home. Here are some of the major topics on the site:
Investors Business Daily: “Confirming again that its reform is a disaster, the White House has stopped yet another provision of the law before it can take effect. This time it’s caps placed on patients’ out-of-pocket expenses. . . . So, like a monarch who exercises absolute power, the administration, which has no constitutional authority to write or change laws, delayed the deadline. Because it felt like it.”
Associated Press: “One casualty of the new health care law may be paid coverage for families of people who work for small businesses. Insurance companies have already warned small business customers that premiums could rise 20 percent or more in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act.”
ABA Journal: “ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III is taking issue with President Obama’s initial remarks about the U.S. Supreme Court and the health care law.
Last Monday, Obama said a decision to overturn the law would be an “unprecedented, extraordinary” step of judicial activism. On Tuesday, Obama clarified his statement, saying that the Supreme Court does have final authority. Obama’s remarks led one federal judge to demand a three-page single-spaced memo from the Department of Justice explaining the administration’s views on the authority of the courts.”
ABA Journal: In response to a “judicial activism” comment by President Barack Obama, since clarified, about the health care law currently being reviewed for constitutionality by the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal appeals court judge overseeing a different health-care case has called for the Department of Justice immediately to provide a three-page single-spaced memo.
It should detail both the DOJ’s position and the views of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder “in regard to the recent statements by the president, stating specifically and in detail in reference to those statements what the authority is of the federal courts in this regard in terms of judicial review,” said Judge Jerry Smith of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals during a Tuesday hearing, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports.
ABA Journal: The U.S. Supreme Court will hold two hours of arguments today on the constitutional questions in the health care case.
The issue is whether Congress had the authority to require most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, according to the New York Times, ABAJournal.com and the Washington Post.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. says Congress was authorized to act under the commerce clause, which allows regulation of economic activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. Uninsured Americans are unable to pay for $43 billion in health care each year, essentially transferring the costs to other Americans, he argues.
Continue reading Obamacare arguments day 2.
ABA Journal: U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared likely to move on to the constitutional issues in the challenge to the Obama administration’s health care law as they considered arguments this morning that the case was brought too soon.
An appointed lawyer, Robert Long of Covington & Burling, had argued that the case could not be heard until 2015, when taxpayers who fail to buy health insurance will be required to pay a penalty. He argued the penalty was a tax under an 1867 law that bars courts from considering tax challenges before the tax is collected.
Continue reading SCOTUS appears ready to decide health care law now not later.
ABA Journal: The U.S. Supreme Court begins three days of arguments today on the Obama administration’s health care law by considering whether the case was brought too soon.
The law requires Americans to have health insurance by 2014 or to pay a penalty on April 2015 tax returns. The question for the justices today is whether the penalty is a tax and, if so, whether an 1867 federal law called the Anti-Injunction Act bars courts from hearing a challenge until the tax is paid. The New York Times, the Washington Post and ABAJournal.com report on the issue.
Former Solicitor General Paul Clement, who represents states challenging the law, said in remarks earlier this month that he feels sorry for people who camp out to see today’s arguments, Bloomberg News reported at the time. “I think of that as a kind of practical joke that the court is playing on the public,” Clement said. “Some people are going to stand out all [Sunday] night trying to get a seat for the health care argument, and they’re going to hear all this discussion about this Anti-Injunction Act—about the most boring jurisdictional stuff one can imagine.”
Continue reading Obamacare arguments: day one.