For most of this past year, the Supreme Court has been playing a combination Calvinball–Kabuki Theatre kind of political game with the Obama Administration over healthcare policy in regards to birth control, basically moving the goalposts every so often while telling everyone that things would be okay if the executive branch would simply come up with different standards…well, this week, the Obama Administration called the High Court out on it:
For most of the last year, the Supreme Court has forced the Obama Administration into an elaborate dance, where the Court hands down orders casting doubt upon the administration’s efforts to ensure that all women have access to affordable birth control — while simultaneously implying that everything would be fine if the administration just designed their birth control policy a different way. Friday, the administration is expected to announce a new policy that appears designed to end this dance and force the justices to rule definitively on whether employers with religious objections to birth control effectively have the power to restrict their employees’ access to birth control coverage, no matter how the government structures its regulations.(Think Progress)
In essence, what the administration appears to be doing is pretty much what, in my opinion, they should’ve done to start with: craft an across-the-board standard that treats all businesses, whether large or small, public or private, the same for purposes of healthcare reform. Had they done so to start, we wouldn’t be having this political theatre that I mentioned at the outset and healthcare reform would be that much further along.
As more & more news comes out concerning today’s conflicting appellate decisions in regards to the ACA insurance subsidies, I’m of two minds here…on the one hand, the D.C. Circuit’s decision hinges on nothing more than a reading error in the law’s subsidy language, which tends to make me think that when the full circuit hears this case – and its’ almost certain they will – odds are, they’ll likely reverse the 3-judge panel’s decision.
On the other hand, given that the 4th Circuit issued pretty much the exact opposite decision today, its’ an almost certain bet that the Supreme Court will, at some point down the road, hear the case. Why? Simple: whenever two or more appellate courts issue conflicting decisions on a case, the Supreme Court is all-but-honor-bound to hear the case, if not for any other reason than to put the issue to bed once and for all…and given the Court’s narrow ruling back in 2012 concerning another major piece of the ACA, I won’t even begin to speculate on what might happen until the case actually goes before the Court.
I don’t know what’s worse here, that (a)Rep. Mark Meadows (Jackass-NC) actually had the stones to ask what he did and (b)that he’s currently the representative for the congressional district I live in at present?
A lawmaker from North Carolina spent several minutes badgering a pregnant doctor about why Obamacare requires plans to cover maternity services, telling her it’s a service that people like him will never use, during a House committee hearing this week.(Think Progress)
Yeah, he went there…here’s my question: if you want the ACA to not cover maternity services, I think it also shouldn’t cover Viagra and other such items, but what do I know? I’m just an American who believes health care’s a right, not a privilege.
Normally, I’d say something pithy and condescending about yet another attempt by House Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act…but having lost count of how many times I’ve said something on this topic, I think I’m just going to quote U.S. Women’s National Team star Alex Morgan on this one….seriously?
House Republicans haven’t really gotten the hang of that whole making health care law thing, but they sure have perfected the voting to tear it down bit.
–House Republicans are poised to reach a new milestone as they gear up for their 50th vote to repeal or dismantle Obamacare.
“You know what they say: 50th time is the charm,” mocked President Barack Obama.
The House is set to vote Wednesday on a bill by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) to effectively delay the individual mandate for one year by reducing the penalty in 2014 for not buying insurance from $95 to $0. (Inclement weather in Washington could conceivably delay the bill further.)(Daily Kos)
Quoting the aforementioned Alex Morgan once more….SERIOUSLY?
You know, the more I read stories such as Ron Fournier’s over at National Journal, the more I’m beginning to agree with Booman Tribune’s view of Mr. Fournier (i.e. that Mr. Fournier is a wanker)…quoting National Journal:
It’s getting difficult and slinking toward impossible to defend the Affordable Care Act. The latest blow to Democratic candidates, liberal activists, and naïve columnists like me came Monday from the White House, which announced yet another delay in the Obamacare implementation.
For the second time in a year, certain businesses were given more time before being forced to offer health insurance to most of their full-time workers. Employers with 50 to 99 workers were given until 2016 to comply, two years longer than required by law. During a yearlong grace period, larger companies will be required to insure fewer employees than spelled out in the law.
Not coincidentally, the delays punt implementation beyond congressional elections in November, which raises the first problem with defending Obamacare: The White House has politicized its signature policy.
The win-at-all-cost mentality helped create a culture in which a partisan-line vote was deemed sufficient for passing transcendent legislation. It spurred advisers to develop a dishonest talking point—“If you like your health plan, you’ll be able to keep your health plan.” And political expediency led Obama to repeat the line, over and over and over again, when he knew, or should have known, it was false.(National Journal)
Now, before my fellow liberals and progressives start reaching for their pitchforks, here me out…like many Americans, I’m getting a little tired and frustrated with all the delays that the administration has used to keep the ACA from falling to pieces. Yes, I supported the ACA during its’ long slog through Congress and though, I’d loved to have seen “medicare-for-all” (a/k/a single payer) implemented instead of what eventually became ObamaCare, this is a good law in my opinion…
Why do I know that? Because for the first time since 2010, I have decent, quality health insurance; even though having been on disability since mid-to-late 2010 has qualified me for Medicare coverage, it feels damn good to have a health-insurance policy that I can fall back on if need be. Yes, the law’s has its’ faults; yes, the administration screwed up royally with that statement above in Fournier’s piece and yes, I wish the administration would just quit delaying the various mandates; all it does is (a)prolong the law’s final implementation and (b)give opponents more ammunition to use in the mid-term elections.
My question to Mr. Fournier: even given all this, the Affordable Care Act is a damn sight better that what had passed for health insurance (in both legal and practical terms), so why the hell are you giving Pres. Obama’s opponents fuel to use against him? Could ya’ answer that, wanker?
Here’s the basics of the deal announced earlier this afternoon on the Senate floor…
- Government to be re-opened and funded at current sequestration levels until Jan. 15th
- Debt ceiling to be raised and extended out to Feb. 7th subject to Congressional vote (which can be vetoed by Pres. Obama)
- Budget conference to be established between both houses of Congress to work on a long-term budget agreement by no later than Dec. 13th
- Income verification for those purchasing health insurance through the Health Exchanges
- Full backpay for furloughed workers
In case you still think this was a good deal for the Republicans, here’s the things they didn’t get to include in this package…
- Continuation of the “extraordinary measures” provision allowing the Treasury Dept. to continue stretching out the debt ceiling as needed
- No prohibition on Congressional staffers utilizing subsidies to purchase health insurance through the Exchanges
- No restrictions on birth control access through insurance policies w/in the Exchanges
- No repeal and/or delay in either the medical device tax OR the medical reinsurance tax
- No repeal or delay in any aspect of either the Health Exchanges OR the ACA’s Individual Mandate
To be fair, there was a bit of give-and-go from both sides; for instance, Democrats have all-but-accepted that government funding will continue at current sequestration levels, which means this deal could (and I emphasize could) have the potential to blow up in the Dems’ faces when Jan. 15th rolls around. That said, this is still a good deal for Democrats because it, (a)gets the government open again & keeps the government running for some time, (b)lifts the spectre of a debt ceiling default (although there may still be repercussions from even getting this close to it) and (c)it potentially gives Democrats a major political weapon to use against Republicans come election time as they can go to voters and argue that Republicans cannot be trusted with the instruments of power, as witnessed by the govt. shutdown and debt ceiling debates.
Of course, all this depends on whether this deal gets through both houses…if it snags anywhere, then to quote Jackass’s Johnny Knoxville, “We’re all just pissing in the wind.”
…some actually see things in a different light. Take Joshua Pittman, a 31yo Rand Paul-style Republican from Alabama who voted for Ron Paul for 2012 and believes Rand Paul will be the torch-bearer for the GOP. Like a good chunk of the GOP, Pittman was deeply opposed to the President’s signature accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, and pretty much saw the President as, to quote Pittman, “an abject failure”.
This week, though…well, to quote Think Progress:
But on Tuesday morning, Pittman logged on to HealthCare.gov and after some initial glitches and delays, successfully enrolled in a Bronze-level Obamacare health insurance plan. “It took me all day, really,” he says with a laugh. “It kicked me out and told me you have to try again, but I knew what I was getting into with so many people exploring it.”
Though he initially supported repealing the law, Pittman became curious about Obamacare in the days and weeks before it launched. For years, he had gone uninsured, thinking he’d be able to “get over anything with a bandaid and a six pack of beer.” But a lead poisoning incident earlier this year shook his confidence and bank account, leading him with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. “I was a healthy person and it really depleted me financially, so it made me look at things in a different way than I would before. I understood the importance of people being insured.”(Think Progress)
One thing I’ve noticed over the past year looking back is the growing number of disconnects between conservative philosophy and life’s realities..that is, how, for instance, people who I know are conservative will talk about individual responsibility yet are the very ones who’ll benefit from the ACA’s individual mandate. As Pittman puts it:
Asked what he liked about Obamacare, Pittman highlighted its prohibition against denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, noting that he wouldn’t be able to find coverage without it, and said that the policies offered in the marketplace seemed more affordable and comprehensive than those available to him on the individual market. “You may pay $18 a month [for a cheaper plan] and you’re missing a level of coverage. It’s not as easy as you’re going to pay this much a month,” he says.(Think Progress)
Given this seeming “Road to Damascus” moment for Mr. Pittman, someone really should ask him hwy, given the above, he still went ahead and voted for Ron Paul in 2012, especially after the crowd cheered the elder Paul’s response. To quote Booman Tribune’s take on this:
When confronted with reality, don’t you think that Mr. Pittman would find the arguments of Ron Paul and his supporters to be callous, inconsistent, and even illogical?
One can only that it’s sunk in to Mr. Pittman (and to other conservatives) that not everything about government is bad and that sometimes, government does actually do good things..