Obamacare’s implicit $1,200/year ‘wife tax.’

OK, strictly speaking it also could be fairly called a ‘husband tax’ or a ‘spouse tax.’ You may also quibble on the ‘tax’ bit, largely because this is being done to avoid a tax.  But, hey: no Republican voted for this monstrosity, remember? So I’m admittedly a little indifferent to any Democratic pain over the nomenclature.

To avoid the Affordable Care Act’s so-called “Cadillac tax” on rich benefit plans, companies are adding surcharges of $100 a month or more to wives and husbands of workers, hoping spouses will seek coverage elsewhere,new employer data shows.


The idea behind the so-called “spousal surcharge” employers are implementing is to reduce the number of people an employer covers so the company can save money and avoid triggering the special excise tax for plans with high cost benefits.

Continue reading Obamacare’s implicit $1,200/year ‘wife tax.’

“HealthCare.gov does not appear to be set up to detect fraud.”

I don’t know whether it matters if you score this as ten out of eleven, or ‘merely’ five: either way… Houston, we have a problem.

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office says 11 counterfeit characters that its investigators created last year were automatically re-enrolled by HealthCare.gov. In Obama’s terms, they got to keep the coverage they had.

Six of those later were flagged and sent termination notices. But GAO said it was able to get five of them reinstated, by calling HealthCare.gov’s consumer service center. The five even got their monthly subsidies bumped up a bit, although GAO did not ask for it. The case of the sixth fake enrollee was under review.

The GAO’s sardonic conclusion of the problem (I don’t know if it’s a direct quote or not) can be found in the title of this post. But let us not pretend that successful fraudulent applications represent a flaw in the system: they are, in fact, part of the system. Lest we forget (which is admittedly hard to do): Obamacare is a government program.  In fact, it’s a government program that the current government is absolutely desperate to have succeed.  The only way to keep the whole thing from collapsing into a fetid heap of delayed verification is to approve any application that does not have HELLO, MY NAME IS [NAME] AND I WISH TO COMMIT TAX FRAUD scrawled across it in big, shaky red letters.

Huh.  The GAO should have done exactly that as a test, just to see how many of those would have gotten through.  Although, to be fair I don’t imagine that more than two out of eleven. Maybe three. Four if circumstances were perfectly aligned.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: For extra horrified laughter: the administration informed GAO that the company running Healthcare.gov aren’t set up to detect fraud, but that there’s no meaningful level of fraud anyway so that’s all right. No, I’m not sure how they’re determining that, either. Maybe Tarot cards?

PPS: Good news, though: “The fake enrollees also got some perplexing instructions from HealthCare.gov. Eight of the 11 were asked to submit additional documentation to prove their citizenship and identity. But the list of suitable paperwork detailed documents for verifying income instead.” So at least anybody out there committing tax fraud will have to deal with just as much government ineptitude as the rest of us…

Quote of the Day, Rust Never Sleeps edition.

I forget what I was going to write about this, but the quote itself is pretty relevant.

Understanding the politics of the president’s health care law has never been complicated. It was barely passed through Congress despite huge Democratic majorities in 2009, became the driving force behind the GOP’s takeover of the House in 2010, and again was the leading issue Republicans campaigned on to retake the Senate in 2014. Nearly 15,000 advertisements aired about Obamacare in the last week of last year’s midterms, and94 percent of the messaging was negative. One week later, Republicans won nine Senate seats and netted their largest House majority since the 1920s. For Republicans, it has been the political gift that keeps on giving.

Yet even though public opinion remains unfavorable towards the law, Democrats remain in denial about its political standing.

Continue reading Quote of the Day, Rust Never Sleeps edition.

Tweet of the Day, The Onion Anticipates The GOP Presidential Field Here edition.

I don’t think that they meant to, but then: that’s not my problem, is it?

Don’t get me wrong, folks: speaking as an American I think that the courts got it wrong today. But speaking as a Republican I’m very much aware that the fundamental problem with Obamacare is not that it was passed in such a slipshod fashion (although that is still a big problem). No, the real, fundamental problem with Obamacare is that it’s a festering pile of pig shit. That ain’t gonna get fixed with a 6-3 Supreme Court decision.

Moe Lane

Don’t cry for Big Insurance if federal Obamacare subsidies go away, folks.

A helpful reminder: “…the dirty secret is that insurers stand to lose the most from King v. Burwell… The giant players — United Healthcare, Cigna, Aetna, Anthem and Humana — have seen stock prices double, triple, even quadruple since the law was passed in 2010. The coming ruling threatens to put an end to their gravy train.” As Betsy [McCaughey] noted elsewhere in that article, the insurance companies were more than happy to sign onto a program where they had a guaranteed – dare we say, mandated? – customer pool; and one where sweet, sweet tax revenue could be used to stitch together any gaps in this Frankenstein’s Monster* of a health care market.

Which means that health care insurers have absolutely no reason to complain that the State giveth, and the State taketh away.  That’s what the State does; and the insurers took the State’s Shilling.  It’s hardly our fault that this turned out to be unwise. Continue reading Don’t cry for Big Insurance if federal Obamacare subsidies go away, folks.

Hawaii officially kills its state Obamacare exchange.

We knew that this was coming, but it’s now official: “Hawaii is taking its troubled ObamaCare insurance exchange off life support, the governor’s office announced Friday, the latest addition to a growing number of state exchanges forced to close after operations became unsustainable.”  And there’s the question that I have been meaning to ask about this entire situation: at what point are we – and by ‘we’ I mean ‘Democrats’ – going to admit that states apparently cannot reliably maintain their own Obamacare exchanges? Because, based on the way that blue-state exchanges have been imploding left and right, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that Republican governors were pretty smart to mostly avoid that nonsense.

H/T Instapundit.

Moe Lane

PS: Remember: federal subsidies going away is a federal problem, not a state one. The administration decided that they knew best here, so they get to fix their own mess.  With all due speed. And I think that I speak for everybody when I note that further Democratic whining is inappropriate at this juncture…

King v. Burwell and the Democratic Abyss.

This is a somewhat interesting article on CNN about the perils for Democrats if the Supreme Court rules against the government in King v. Burwell: not least because it’s fairly clear that the author would rather that there not be any perils for Democrats at all.  Nonetheless, the article does concede that the original mad optimism that Democrats showed in thinking that the elimination of federal Obamacare subsidies would backfire on Republicans was mad optimism, and maybe not particularly justified mad optimism as that.  But there’s an even worse potential problem for Democrats: what’s their Plan B?

Because the Republicans have a bunch of Plan Bs.  Senator Bill Cassidy of [Louisiana] wants to set up an alternative Health Savings Account (HSA) program. Representative Tom Price of Georgia wants to try tax credits and pooling coverage.  And there’s even Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin’s exquisite poison pill of a bill where Congress puts back the subsidies… in exchange for a repeal of the individual and employee mandates.  All of these plans can’t be implemented at the same time, of course.  There’s no way that they could be.  But they are, in fact, plans: and should King v. Burwell be decided against the government I expect that we’ll see a Republican consensus hammered together over a long weekend.

Continue reading King v. Burwell and the Democratic Abyss.

Quote of the Day, Memory And The Supreme Court Follies edition.

Megan McArdle, while discussing the increasingly amusing flailing about by the Left over King v. Burwell:

…contrary to apparently popular belief, “drafting error” is not a magic word that forces the Supreme Court to give you a mulligan.

Read, as they say, the whole thing.  There’s some good bits in there about why it is that our legal system has a certain bias against leaning too heavily on individual memory as evidence.  Simply put: people remember things essentially by telling themselves stories in their heads.  When the story changes, the same people will often forget the old version.  And they can get a nasty, but legitimate shock when actual evidence appears that demonstrates that the new story is incorrect.  This is actually an interesting neurological… condition? Situation? Party trick? One of those, anyway.

Moe Lane

PS: I can’t help but notice that a lot of the non-lawyer defendant arguments about King v. Burwell are starting to sound like rationalizations for why the Left should be angry about the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in King v. Burwell.  Go figure.

No Republican voted for Obamacare, and its skyrocketing deductibles.

Byron York put it pretty plainly:

…the deductibles on many Americans’ health insurance policies have shot up so high that as a practical matter they can’t afford care. If a couple had a deductible of, say, $500 in the past, and it’s now $3,000, that couple has to spend a lot of money out-of-pocket before reaping the benefits of coverage. And the higher the deductible, the more likely a person is going to skip some sort of needed treatment or medicine because he or she can’t afford the up-front costs.

…the first question to ask is: How did those deductibles get so high in the first place?

The answer is Obamacare.

Continue reading No Republican voted for Obamacare, and its skyrocketing deductibles.

State Obamacare exchanges contemplating combining to form Vol…untary multi-state exchanges.

This Hill article tries to obscure the basic problem a bit

A number of states are quietly considering merging their healthcare exchanges under ObamaCare amid big questions about their cost and viability.

Many of the 13 state-run ObamaCare exchanges are worried about how they’ll survive once federal dollars supporting them run dry next year.

…by going on to present a third-party allegation that states on the federal Obamacare exchange are maybe interested in joining a multi-state exchange as being a fact.  There’s plenty of states contemplating this, by gum!  The guy running the Connecticut Obamacare exchange wants you to know that you’ll be amazed by the names! …But he can’t tell you which states, because no bureaucrat has ever wanted to even slightly embarrass a Republican office holder, ever. Continue reading State Obamacare exchanges contemplating combining to form Vol…untary multi-state exchanges.