Brian Gilmore

Recent Posts From Brian Gilmore

ObamaCare Employer Mandate Penalties Delayed Until 2015

Barack Obama and Jack Lew

In April, the soon-to-be-retired and chief ObamaCare author Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) warned that the looming 2014 full implementation of ObamaCare was on track to be a train wreck.  The Administration finally conceded as much on Tuesday when it announced that it will be delaying enforcement of ObamaCare’s employer mandate until 2015.

The Treasury Department confirmed the delay in a blog post ironically titled “Continuing to Implement the ACA in a Careful, Thoughtful Manner.”

Over the past several months, the Administration has been engaging in a dialogue with businesses - many of which already provide health coverage for their workers - about the new employer and insurer reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively.  We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so.  We have listened to your feedback.  And we are taking action.
[…]
Accordingly, we are extending this transition relief to the employer shared responsibility payments.  These payments will not apply for 2014.  Any employer shared responsibility payments will not apply until 2015.

Arizona Governor Signs ObamaCare Medicaid Expansion

Jan Brewer

On Monday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law the state’s budget opting in to the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion program.  It was the capstone of a long, hard fought battle by Gov. Brewer to impose the expansion on the state of Arizona and its startled citizenry.

How did we come to the point where a Republican governor in a conservative state would stake her political career on choosing to implement ObamaCare’s massive expansion of the welfare state?

ObamaCare Medicaid Expansion is Optional

PPACA Section 2001 expanded Medicaid up to 133% of the federal poverty line.  It also provided federal funding for the increase as follows:

(A) 100 percent for calendar quarters in 2014, 2015, and 2016;
(B) 95 percent for calendar quarters in 2017;
(C) 94 percent for calendar quarters in 2018;
(D) 93 percent for calendar quarters in 2019; and
(E) 90 percent for calendar quarters in 2020 and each year thereafter.

Then came the Supreme Court’s ruling on the individual mandate in NFIB v. Sebelius.  Chief Justice Roberts inexplicably upheld the mandate as a tax, a holding that will forever define his legacy as having abandoned originalism.  But there was one minor victory for the states:

Congressional Staff to Feel ObamaCare Pain in 2014

Chuck Grassley

If you can’t beat them, force them to join their own thing.

That may as well have been Senator Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) motto in 2009 when he introduced an amendment to PPACA to force members of Congress and their staff onto the ObamaCare exchanges.  In the private sector, this practice of dropping large employee groups or terminating employer-sponsored group health plans is referred to as “dumping” employees onto the ObamaCare exchange.  Congress and its staff will certainly feel dumped on come January 1, 2014, when they’re left to fend for themselves in the world of government-driven healthcare.

What is the FEHBP?

The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) is the group health plan for federal government employees.  It’s the largest employer-sponsored plan in the country, covering 8 million enrollees.  That’s roughly the size of the entire population of the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.

Why Members of Congress and Staff Lose FEHBP Coverage as of January 1, 2014

PPACA Section 1312 explicitly requires that they go to the ObamaCare exchange:

IRS Commissioners Shulman and Miller also Unconstitutionally Implemented ObamaCare

ObamaCare Trojan Horse

Former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman and current Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller have been the subjects of intense questioning from Congress over the past two weeks over their relation to the Tea Party targeting scandal.  For Shulman, questions remain as to whether he may have lied in front of the House Ways and Means Committee in March 2012 when questioned about allegations of targeting that at the time were simmering without mainstream awareness. He appeared to be less than forthright in his responses when questioned by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday. Miller has already tendered his resignation under pressure.

But there’s another IRS scandal waiting to gain widespread awareness, and this time it undeniably has Shumlan’s and MIller’s fingerprints all over it.  The IRS is unconstitutionally implementing ObamaCare exchange subsidies in states that refuse to establish an exchange.

What PPACA Says

ObamaCare Exchange Information Campaign Taps Employers

ObamaCare

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) infamously stated in 2010 that “we have to pass the bill [ObamaCare] so that you can find out what is in it.”  It was a curious comment, one that could have any number of meanings.  Here’s what I understood it to mean: This bill is so damn big, has so many moving parts, and will radically remodel the relationship between the civil society and government to such a degree that there is no way for Americans to conceptualize what life will be like under the ObamaCare utopia until we implement it.

Well, the time is nigh.  And for employers, guess what?  You’re really about to find out what’s in it.  The employer mandate and its associated excise tax penalties are a cornerstone of the fundamental transformation President Obama has so long desired.  In the ObamaCare solar system, everything revolves around the exchanges.  Employer mandate excise taxes, enforced by the same IRS that recently admitted to targeting Tea Party groups, will provide crucial funding for the massive exchange subsidies.

One of the ObamaCare requirements associated with the employer mandate that has been largely under the radar until this week is requirement to provide employees with a notice informing them about the ObamaCare exchanges.  From Section 1512 of PPACA:

PART II—EMPLOYER RESPONSIBILITIES

SEC. 1512. EMPLOYER REQUIREMENT TO INFORM EMPLOYEES OF COVERAGE OPTIONS.

CaliforniaCare: The Employer Mandate on Steroids

employer mandate

California AB 880: “This bill would make it unlawful for a large employer to, among other things…reduce an employee’s hours or work…if the purpose is to avoid the imposition of the penalty. A violation of those provisions would result in a penalty of 200% of the penalty amount the employer would have paid for the applicable period of time.”

ObamaCare’s employer mandate is off to a disastrous start even before it kicks in.  The CBO has already scored the measure to cost employers $150 billion in draconian excise taxes over the next eleven years, and there’s no telling how much the compliance costs will total.  Most employers are in no position to shoulder this burden.  How have they responded?  For many, the only hope has been to reduce employees’ hours because the employer mandate and its associated penalty taxes apply only to employees who average at least 30 hours per week. Regal Entertainment Group recently announced that it would join the long line of mega-sized employers to be reluctantly forced down this road.

Tax Breaks Are Not Tax Expenditures

budget

“Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property.” — John Locke, Second Treatise of Government (1690)

What is “spending through the tax code?”  This is an important question in light of the Obama FY 2014 budget proposal finally unveiled last week.  We already know it raises taxes by more than $1 trillion.  Much of this is done by eliminating so-called “tax expenditures.”

Here is how the Joint Committee on Taxation defines a tax expenditure:

Tax expenditures are defined under the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (the “Budget Act”) as “rev­enue losses attributable to provisions of the Federal tax laws which allow a special exclusion, exemption, or deduction from gross in­come or which provide a special credit, a preferential rate of tax, or a deferral of tax liability.”

Sebelius Reveals Administration’s Flawed ObamaCare Concept of Insurance

Kathleen Sebelius

It’s well established by this point that ObamaCare’s full implementation in 2014 will cause premiums to increase significantly.  This cold fact draws a sharp contrast to President Obama’s campaign promise that he would cut the average family’s premium by about $2,500 per year, and Nancy Pelosi’s 2012 pledge that under ObamaCare “everybody will have lower rates.” The Obama administration is now searching for talking points to explain these failures as the looming realities of 2014 begin to confront the administration’s prior platitudes.

The latest theory making its way through the Beltway is that coverage under ObamaCare will be more expensive because it will provide the type of comprehensive coverage that we’ve all been waiting for.  Here is how the AP reported on HHS Secretary Sebelius’s recent comments in response to a study by the Society of Actuaries finding that insurance companies will have to pay out an average of 32% more for medical claims under ObamaCare:

At a White House briefing Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said some of what passes for health insurance today is so skimpy it can’t be compared to the comprehensive coverage available under the law. “Some of these folks have very high catastrophic plans that don’t pay for anything unless you get hit by a bus,” she said. “They’re really mortgage protection, not health insurance.”

ObamaCare’s “Family Glitch” Exposed

Obama signs ObamaCare

Let’s put aside for a minute that ObamaCare is unconstitutional, adds $6.2 trillion in debt, piles on countless new taxes, and has already racked up $31 billion and 71.5 million hours in regulatory compliance costs.  Yes, that’s a lot to put aside.  But for just a moment assume the role of a liberal with an entitlement mentality.  For a law with enormous riches and political capital invested in it, wouldn’t you expect it to at least function on its most basic level consistent with its namesake?  In other words, you would expect for the Affordable Care Act to provide affordable coverage.

The latest of ObamaCare’s fundamental flaws to be euphemistically reported as a “glitch” that needs to be “tweaked” is its failure to provide affordable family coverage for a broad group of employees.  As a result, Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 3.9 million family dependents may not be able to afford employer-sponsored family coverage or receive subsidized coverage on an ObamaCare exchange.

Understanding the family glitch requires a quick primer on the byzantine regulatory structure governing Obamacare’s subsidies:

“Covered California” - ObamaCare Exchange Site Goes Live

Backed by $674 million in federal grants, California’s slick new ObamaCare exchange site for purchasing PPACA-approved health coverage starting January 1, 2014 is now up and running.  You can tour this marvel of government-driven healthcare at CoveredCA.com.  Only 288 days until “coverage” begins!

Some of the highlights:

- The exchange materials refer to Covered California as a “marketplace” rather than an “exchange.”  This is a recent policy change directive from HHS. As FreedomWorks’ director of healthcare policy Dean Clancy stated in response to the change, “They could call them motherhood or apple pie, but it wouldn’t change our feelings about them.”  We subsequently learned that the real motivation for the change is that is that there isn’t a good Spanish translation for “exchange.”

Brian Gilmore

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