Brian Gilmore

Recent Posts From Brian Gilmore

Replacing ObamaCare: Republican Answer to Pre-Existing Conditions

This is the final post exploring the Republican Study Committee’s proposal for replacing ObamaCare.

The Republican Study Committee’s recently introduced comprehensive health care proposal titled the American Health Care Reform Act of 2013 (AHCRA), H.R. 3121, repeals ObamaCare and offers the best set of proposals to date toward establishing a Republican consumer-driven health care narrative.  Its core features include the Standard Deduction for Health Insurance, which would unchain the tax advantages for purchasing health insurance from employer-sponsored coverage, and its HSA enhancements to to unleash the power of the market in combating the skyrocketing costs of care and empower individuals to control their own medical savings and expenses.

AHCRA also includes a number of crucial market reforms that can answer some of the basic questions like “How do you address pre-existing condition exclusions without outright banning them like in ObamaCare?” or “If I can’t get coverage on an ObamaCare exchange, what would my options be?”  These proposals are important steps in showing that the federal government can act in unintrusive ways to improve the pre-ObamaCare health coverage landscape, and without the endless and heavy-handed stockpile of mandates that define ObamaCare’s failures.

Some of the highlights include:

Covered California’s ObamaCare Exchange Fail

Covered California fail

The San Jose Mercury News reported this weekend that two weeks after the now infamous debacle that was the ObamaCare exchange rollout, California’s new pride and joy still doesn’t offer a way to find out which doctors and hospitals are included in each health plan:

The website tool designed to help shoppers cross-reference tens of thousands of doctors and hundreds of hospitals that belong to the networks of Covered California’s 12 insurance providers finally launched last week after earlier promises that it would be available on Oct. 1, the day similar exchanges opened for business nationwide under the new federal health care law.

But when it finally appeared on Tuesday, a hard-to-find online tool was only in place about 48 hours before it was removed from the site because of what exchange officials called “uneven” performance.

Hmmm.  This is the same “Covered California” that cost $313 million to develop, funded almost entirely with federal taxpayer dollars (thank you, everyone not living in CA).  The same site that originally boasted of 5 million hits on launch day, only to later admit that the real number was actually 645,000.  The same folks who described the overstatement of nearly 4.5 million hits as an “error,” “the result of an internal miscommunication,” and the always golden “someone misspoke.”

Replacing ObamaCare: Republican Alternative Expands HSA Access

RSC ObamaCare Alternative

This is the second in a multi-part series exploring the Republican Study Committee’s proposal for replacing ObamaCare.

As we reach the climax of the CR stalemate centered around ObamaCare, the debate will eventually have to shift away from the endless evils of government-driven health care and toward the redeeming power of free-market forces.  Fortunately, the Republican Study Committee recently introduced a comprehensive health care proposal titled the American Health Care Reform Act of 2013 (AHCRA).  The bill, H.R. 3121, both repeals ObamaCare and offers the best set of proposals to date toward establishing a consumer-driven health care narrative for replacing ObamaCare.

Last week I addressed AHCRA’s first core principle, the Standard Deduction for Health Insurance (SDHI), which would unchain the tax advantages for purchasing health insurance from employer-sponsored coverage.  This post focuses on the benefits of enhancing the health savings account (HSA) to unleash the power of the market in combating the skyrocketing costs of care.

HSA Provides Triple-Tax Advantage

Don’t Settle for One-Year Individual Mandate Delay

Let’s get one thing straight: Any compromise on the CR that fails to block the ObamaCare exchange subsidies is unacceptable.

On Saturday afternoon, Speaker Boehner and the House Republican leadership issued a joint statement indicating their intent to vote on two amendments to the Senate CR that was denuded of its key provisions to defund ObamaCare:

“The first amendment delays the president’s health care law by one year. And the second permanently repeals ObamaCare’s medical device tax that is sending jobs overseas.”

Early Sunday, the House Republicans followed through on the plan. The key amendment is the first one referred to above, which delays most of ObamaCare’s core 2014 provisions, including the exchange subsidies and individual mandate, for one year.

The amendment is the product of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).  You can read the full text of the Blackburn Amendment on cspan.com, and you can view her floor speech offering the amendment on YouTube.

Replacing ObamaCare: AHCRA Proposes Standard Health Deduction

RSC ObamaCare Alternative

This is the first in a multi-part series exploring the Republican Study Committee’s proposal for replacing ObamaCare.

Last week, the Republican Study Committee introduced a comprehensive health bill that addresses a fundamental question facing the movement to defund/repeal ObamaCare: What would you replace it with?  The bill (H.R. 3121) is titled the American Health Care Reform Act of 2013 (AHCRA), and it’s loaded with solid proposals to move us from the current government-driven ObamaCare model to a market-based, consumer-driven health care framework.

Many of the concepts detailed in AHCRA have been discussed in broad generalities by Republicans for years.  Now we have specific policy proposals in actual legislative form, and the good news is that there’s a lot to like.  At it’s core, AHCRA is a tax reform bill that revolves around its featured legislative proposal - the Standard Deduction for Health Insurance.

It Starts With One Thing

AHCRA Section 101:

TITLE I—REPEAL OF OBAMACARE

FreedomWorks Hosts Defund ObamaCare Event

 Defund ObamaCare

FreedomWorks hosted a group of bloggers, social media stars, activists, and other liberty-loving folks at its D.C. offices this weekend to discuss the central issue we face today: Defunding ObamaCare.

Why Defund?

January 1, 2014 is the ObamaCare ultimatum. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has stated: “On Jan. 1, the exchanges kick in and the subsidies kick in.  Once those kick in, it’s going to prove almost impossible to undo Obamacare. The administration’s plan is very simple: Get everyone addicted to the sugar so that Obamacare remains a permanent feature of our society.”

It’s crucial to use any constitutional resources at our disposal to prevent that from occurring.  Fortunately, the Constitution grants the House power over the purse.  This is the moment that the 2010 and 2012 Tea Party influx in the House needs to bear fruit.

The federal government’s fiscal year ends September 30.  Congress must pass (and the President must sign) a continuing resolution (CR) by that date to continue funding the federal government as of October 1.  As explained by Dean Clancy, FreedomWorks Legislative Counsel and VP of Health Care Policy, the key to the defunding strategy is that the CR is a must-pass bill to avoid a temporary slowdown of non-essential government services.  This is the leverage we have.  We cannot waste it.

How Do We Defund?

Does the Administration Dream of ObamaCare Sheep?

Bladerunner

Keep dreaming, the flock is scattered.  We’re less than one month away now from the supposed grand opening of the ObamaCare exchanges, and yet 44% of Americans aren’t even sure whether ObamaCare is still a law.

Which begs the question: Is ObamaCare a law?

This 44% shocker from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s August Health Tracking Poll reveals America’s collective “wtf?” when it comes to ObamaCare’s legal status.  Some appear to think that the House’s two symbolic full repeal attempts were actually successful (wishful thinking), others believe it was overturned by Chief Justice John Roberts and company (perhaps they read the advance copies before he went the “tax” route?).  But most (31%) just can’t figure out what the heck is going on with this law.  Can you blame them?

- Is it a law when President Obama spends years telling you that his signature legislation will let you can keep your plan and your doctor if you like them, but you’re now facing the reality of potentially losing both come 2014?

Congressional ObamaCare Exemption Also Illegally Tax-Free

Congress's ObamaCare exemption

President Obama intervened earlier this month to ensure that his administration’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) would, through its rulemaking process, preserve Congress’s and its staff’s 72% average employer contribution on the impending ObamaCare exchanges.  The legality of the OPM proposed regulations that shift the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) contributions to the exchanges has already been the subject of significant controversy, particularly because it appears to contradict the intent of Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) amendment to PPACA (Section 1312) to require that Congress/staff live by the same rules as the rest of us.

But there’s another level to OPM’s rulemaking that directly violates PPACA: Congress/staff’s payments for ObamaCare coverage will be illegally offered on a tax-free basis. PPACA has specific provisions designed to ensure that employees are taxed on ObamaCare exchange coverage.  The OPM rulemaking openly disregards those requirements.

Employer Notice of Exchange Highlights Loss of Employer Contribution and Tax-Free Payment

ObamaCare Call Center To Keep Employees Under 30 Hours/Week

part-time jobs

ObamaCare’s employer mandate may have been delayed until 2015, but its disastrous effects on the price of labor are still being felt throughout the country.  Now we have a new prime (and hilarious) example of its inevitable market distortions.  Much of the budding bureaucracy being hired in a California ObamaCare call center inform eager entitlement-seekers how to access the new ObamaCare dole will be working under 30 hours/week.  Of course this hiring policy is designed to avoid, of all things, ObamaCare.

As originally reported in the Contra Costa Times and picked up widely by Eliana Johnson at NRO,  the California county and job applicants are less than pleased with the development:

Earlier this year, Contra Costa County won the right to run a health care call center, where workers will answer questions to help implement the president’s Affordable Care Act. Area politicians called the 200-plus jobs it would bring to the region an economic coup.

Now, with two months to go before the Concord operation opens to serve the public, information has surfaced that about half the jobs are part-time, with no health benefits — a stinging disappointment to workers and local politicians who believed the positions would be full-time.

The Contra Costa County supervisor whose district includes the call center called the whole hiring process — which attracted about 7,000 applicants — a “comedy of errors.”

House Questions Obama’s Authority to Delay ObamaCare

Obama and executive power

“[The President] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed…” — Article II, Section 3 (The Faithful Execution Clause)

Last week, the Obama administration elevated blogging to new heights.  The Treasury Department used its Treasury Notes blog to announce a one-year delay of ObamaCare’s employer mandate.  This was followed by a post on The White House Blog by Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s closest advisor, titled “We’re Listening to Businesses about the Health Care Law.”

The administration’s announcement demonstrated that it’s hip to the modern favored form of communication.  But this announcement came on the eve of the July 4th weekend, a time when we reflect on the timeless principles of our founding.   The flashiness of the blog medium and its informal, in-touch style of conveying the ObamaCare delay has not blinded Americans to what underneath amounts to an old-fashioned executive power grab.

ObamaCare’s Employer Mandate Effective in 2014

The problem is that ObamaCare (PPACA), which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, has a clear effective date for the employer mandate. PPACA section 1513, dubbed “Shared Responsibility for Employers” (the employer mandate), states that the excise tax penalties on employers under IRC Section 4980H “shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013.”  End of story.

House Members Weigh-In

Brian Gilmore

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