Tea Party first to cheer Cruz bid (quote by Jenny Beth)

“He’s a leader of the Tea Party in Washington, so it’s not a surprise that Tea Party leaders are heaping praise on Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential announcement today. Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, was the first to embrace Cruz, noting his firm stands on conservative principles. “It’s fitting that Sen. Ted Cruz is the first announced candidate in the GOP presidential field,” Martin said in a statement. “In his two short years in the Senate, he has yielded to no one in championing the values of personal freedom, economic freedom and a debt-free future. As the field expands, we will look forward to seeing how the other candidates advance the liberty movement and put forward conservative solutions to undoing the mess our ‘transformational’ president has made of our Republic.”…”



“Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder of Tea Party Patriots and the head of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund Super PAC, celebrated Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for the announcement of his presidential campaign shortly after midnight on Monday. In a statement to Breitbart News, Martin said that Cruz has been one of the most effective fighters for conservatism in his two years in the U.S. Senate. “It’s fitting that Sen. Ted Cruz will be the first announced candidate in the GOP field. In his two short years in the U.S. Senate, he has yielded to no one in championing the values of personal freedom, economic freedom and a debt-free future,” Martin said. “As the field expands, we will look forward to seeing how the other candidates effort to advance the liberty movement and put forward conservative solutions toward undoing the mess that our ‘transformational’ president has made of our Republic.” Cruz announced via Twitter right after midnight that he’s running for president, including a short video in which he makes his opening case for his campaign for the White House…”


Election 2016: Can Ted Cruz Win The Conservative Mantle? (quote by Jenny Beth)

“He came busting into the political scene when he was elected to the Senate in 2012. He was not the establishment-backed Senate candidate, but was able to build a strong tea party-driven base. Cruz quickly gained praise from Jenny Beth Martin, the head of the Tea Party Patriots — a group that has raised money to help conservatives challenge establishment-backed Republicans — but stopped short of an endorsement. “It’s fitting that Sen. Ted Cruz is the first announced candidate in the GOP presidential field,” Martin said. “In his two short years in the Senate, he has yielded to no one in championing the values of personal freedom, economic freedom and a debt-free future.”


Pro-life, pro-family Senator Ted Cruz announces bid for U.S. president (quote by Jenny Beth)

“…Cruz followed up his announcement the same day with a speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.  CNN counted ten thousand students in attendance. Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin praised Cruz’s announcement, telling Breitbart that “(i)n his two short years in the U.S. Senate, [Cruz] has yielded to no one in championing the values of personal freedom, economic freedom and a debt-free future.”  Martin called it “fitting” that Cruz should be the first to announce…”


Cruz: I’m running. (Tea Party Patriots mentioned)

“…While tea party leaders still like Cruz, they’re also looking elsewhere for 2016. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, regarded as a new voice and a Washington outsider, has drawn a passionate following, particularly in Iowa. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa caucus, retains a loyal conservative following. Walker so far has pulled ahead of everyone, and held a telephone town hall last week with followers of one group, the Tea Party Patriots. Afterward, the group said on its website “there is perhaps no one the left fears more than this accomplished Midwestern governor, as Walker is proof that leaders don’t have to ‘shift to the middle to win the middle.”…”



Obamacare hasn’t aged well

“Five years ago, President Obama signed his signature healthcare initiative into law. Despite predictions by Obama and his fellow Democrats that it would become more popular once it was implemented, the reality has been the opposite. In no small part due to Obamacare, Democrats have lost control of the House and Senate, even though they enjoyed overwhelming majorities in both chambers when they rammed the legislation through the U.S. Congress on a strict party line vote. Democrats have pointed to signs of a recent uptick of support for Obamacare. But it’s worth noting that in April 2010, just after it was signed into law, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s monthly tracking poll found that 46 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the law, compared with 40 percent who had an unfavorable view. This month, just 41 percent have a favorable view, compared with a larger contingent of 43 percent who viewed it unfavorably. Even more staggering is that at the time the law passed, 50 percent of the uninsured viewed the law favorably, no doubt optimistic about the promises of quality, affordable healthcare. But in this month’s poll, just 31 percent of the uninsured had a favorable view. In other words, the segment of the population intended to be the primary beneficiaries of the law and who have the most reason to interact with it, have a more negative impression of the law than the broader public. This should be no surprise. As time has gone on, more and more of the promises of the healthcare law have been proven false. When Obama pitched the legislation to lawmakers and the public in a speech to a joint session of Congress in September 2009, he said it would cost “around $900 billion over 10 years.” Yet that cost estimate depended on an accounting gimmick — because the major spending provisions didn’t kick in until 2014, it was essentially a six-year cost estimate. According to the most recent Congressional Budget Office projections, the law is going to cost $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years. That much spending, has, indisputably, increased the number of Americans with health insurance by millions, but that wasn’t supposed to be the only purpose of the law. Obama predicted the law would lower premiums, but the raft of regulations imposed on insurance polices have driven up the sticker price of health insurance, which is particularly painful for those who don’t qualify for taxpayer subsidies. Despite promising that people who liked their health plans could keep them, millions of Americans received termination notices as insurers implemented the law’s regulations. Despite Obama’s promise that people would be able to keep their doctors, insurers have been forced to slash the number of medical providers included in their insurance networks to help offset the rising costs created by Obamacare…”




Unhappy birthday, Obamacare: Five years after its signing, the Affordable Care Act is failing to live up to its promise

“It was five years ago today. Obamacare turns five years old today. But there’s little to celebrate. When he signed his signature piece of legislation into law, President Obama guaranteed lower health-care costs, universal coverage and higher-quality care. Americans wouldn’t have to change their doctors if they didn’t want to. Five years later, the health law has failed to fulfill those grandiose promises. “In the Obama administration,” candidate Obama boasted in 2008, “we’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family in a year.” Not quite. A recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research examined the non-group marketplace, where families and individuals who don’t get coverage through work shop for insurance. The report concluded that 2014 premiums were 24.4% higher than they would have been without Obamacare. On Obamacare’s third birthday, the White House reassured Americans the law would protect vulnerable patient populations from increases in drug prices. “Preventing them from being charged more because of a pre-existing condition or getting fewer benefits like mental health services or prescription drugs,” was a key purpose of the law, explained the White House. Instead, drug costs for these patients have skyrocketed. The majority of health plans on the exchanges have shifted costs for expensive medications onto patients. In 2015, more than 40% of all “silver” exchange plans — the most commonly purchased — are charging patients 30% or more of the total cost of their specialty drugs. Only 27% of silver plans did so last year. Part of the problem is that Obamacare has quashed competition. The president promised in 2013 that “this law means more choice, more competition, lower costs for millions of Americans.” But that hasn’t turned out to be true. According to the Heritage Foundation, the number of insurers selling to individual consumers in the exchanges this year is 21.5% less than the number on the market in 2013 — the year before the law took effect. The Government Accountability Office reports that insurers have left the market in droves. In 2013, 1,232 carriers offered insurance coverage in the individual market. By 2015, that number had shrunk to 310…”


Five Broken Promises From Five Years of Obamacare

“Monday marked five years since President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. While the White House is celebrating the milestone, the anniversary brings to mind some of the broken promises made in the struggle to get it through Congress in March 2010.

You can keep your health care plan – Certainly the most famous broken pledge made prior to the passage of the law was Obama’s promise: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”…

Rising health care costs curbed – Obama pledged that the cost of health care would go down by $2,500 per family, but increases have occurred on a number of fronts. Americans who had private health insurance reportedly spent more in 2013 for medical services and used fewer. Earlier this month, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that deductibles are rising at such a rate that it’s becoming more difficult for moderate- and low-income Americans to pay them, and in some cases families are going in to debt. A midrange deductible is $1,200 for an individual and $2,400 for a family….

Law will bend the cost curve downward – As recently as Sunday, Obama said in a statement that “in stark contrast to predictions that this law would cause premiums to skyrocket, last year the growth in health care premium costs for businesses matched its lowest level on record. If premiums had kept growing over the last four years at the rate they had in the last decade, the average family premium would be $1,800 higher than it is today.” But a nonpartisan government study suggests that a sluggish economy is the reason behind that, not the health care law….

Deficit Reduction – During the congressional debate, Obama said, “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future.” A Senate Budget Committee Republican staff report from October concluded that Obamacare actually adds $131 billion to the deficit over the next decade….

Boost for Small Business – Obamacare was also supposed to make health insurance more affordable for small businesses through the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, tax credits. But businesses cited credits that were “too small and administratively complex” with not enough health insurance options, according to the Government Accountability Office. This failed to provide the proper incentive for small employers to insure workers. There was also a lack of employer awareness, according to the GAO.”


Obamacare is 5 years old, and Americans are still worried about death panels


For Many Americans, Opposition To ObamaCare Has Become Personal

“ObamaCare is celebrating its fifth anniversary, but few Americas are cheering. The Real Clear Politics average of the latest major opinion polls about the health law shows that 52.5% oppose it and only 42% approve.  The 10.5% spread is identical to the average of polls taken when the law was signed five years ago.  Approval numbers never have topped disapproval numbers since the law was enacted. It is not getting more popular and it is not settled law, as President Obama claims. President Obama is touting the increased number of people who have health insurance as a result of the law.  According to Gallup, the uninsured rate among U.S. adults averaged 12.9% in the fourth quarter of last year. The uninsured rate was 14.4% the year before the health law passed, also according to Gallup. So our health sector has been thrown into turmoil, millions of people have lost their private health plans, $1 trillion in new and higher taxes have been imposed on individuals and businesses – and the uninsured rate has dropped a net of 1.5%. The majority of the newly-insured are enrolled in Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program that generally pays doctors and hospitals less than any other health plan.  Adding millions more able-bodied adults to Medicaid makes it even harder for the poorest, most vulnerable Americans to find a physician to see them. We can do better than this…”


Obamacare Turns Five, Awaits Repeal

Two hundred straight polls have found Obamacare to be unpopular.

“It has now been five years since President Obama signed Obamacare into law — and more than two years and two months since any poll found it to be popular.  The last time a poll found Obamacare to be popular was during Obama’s first term. During his second term (now mercifully more than halfway over), Real Clear Politics has listed 178 polls on Obamacare.  All 178 have found it to be unpopular.  In addition, the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll — a left-leaning outlier that RCP doesn’t even list and which (contrary to essentially every other poll) actually claimed Obamacare was popular at the time of its passage — has released 22 polls on Obamacare during Obama’s second term.  All 22 have found it to be unpopular.  So, in all, Obamacare has gone 0-200 during Obama’s second term, far worse than the cumulative 0-124 record of #16 seeds in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. It’s not hard to figure out why.  The good people of this country didn’t want Obamacare because they knew it would undermine their liberty, their nation’s fiscal solvency, and the quality of American medicine.  They knew it would raise health costs while also increasing federal spending, deficits, and control.  They knew it would funnel unprecedented power and money to politicians and bureaucrats in Washington at the expense of doctors and patients on Main Street.  And, indeed, it has. Yet Obama says of his namesake, “On the five-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, one thing couldn’t be clearer:  This law is working, and in many ways, it’s working even better than anticipated. “After five years of the Affordable Care Act, more than 16 million uninsured Americans have gained the security of health insurance.” In truth, when the Democrats rammed Obamacare into law without a single Republican vote, the Congressional Budget Office projected that 26 million people would have gained health insurance by 2015.  Only the federal government could call failing to hit a target by 10 million people “working even better than anticipated.”  Moreover, most of those 16 million have merely been dumped into Medicaid. Still, the ongoing public opposition to Obamacare is really quite striking.  Imagine if 200 straight polls had found Obamacare to be popular.  In that scenario, do you think the cause of repeal would continue to be taken seriously?  Why, then, in the face of 200 straight polls finding Obamacare to be unpopular, is its repeal not viewed to be nearly inevitable?  The truth is that if Republicans show half the determination to repeal Obamacare in 2017 that Obama did in imposing it upon an unwilling citizenry in 2010, Obamacare will be repealed.  The only thing holding back the cause of repeal is this:  Most Americans were not content with the pre-Obamacare status quo, and — five years later — they’re still waiting for Republicans to unite around a well-conceived conservative alternative. Polling last fall by McLaughlin & Associates (on behalf of the 2017 Project) found overwhelming support for repeal in the context of a viable conservative alternative.  With “a conservative alternative that aims to lower health costs and help people get insurance” in play — in other words, with an alternative in play that focuses on both costs and coverage — the poll found that 60 percent of likely voters supported repeal, compared with only 32 percent who supported letting Obamacare stay on the books (whether “in its current form or in amended form”).  Among independents, the tally was 62 to 26 percent in favor of repealing rather than keeping/fixing Obamacare.  (The poll included 38 percent Democrats and only 32 percent Republicans.)…”


Obamacare Is Five: The Penalties Begin


Obamacare’s Made It To Its Five Year Anniversary

“Obamacare is celebrating its fifth birthday Monday, but despite years of making headlines, it remains unpopular among Americans and the subject of continued attempts for repeal and reform. While the Affordable Care Act has been law of the land for five years and most of the public still looks at it negatively — a surprise for a program that gives out subsidies. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest tracking poll, 43 percent view Obamacare unfavorably, compared to 41 percent who see it favorably. The public’s lackluster response to the landmark health reform has spurred ongoing efforts for either total repeal of Obamacare, favored by the GOP, or incremental reforms to it. But law’s survival, despite challenges ranging from the administration’s botched rollout of HealthCare.gov to Supreme Court cases challenging a number of provisions, has certainly heartened the law’s supporters. President Barack Obama lauded the health law’s milestone in a statement Sunday. “The Affordable Care Act has been the subject of more scrutiny, more rumor, more attempts to dismantle and undermine it than just about any law in recent history,” President Obama said. “But five years later, it is succeeding — in fact, it’s working better than even many of its supporters expected.”…”


Obama, Republicans mark 5th year of health care law

“Five years later, the debate over President Obama’s health care law — aka Obamacare — remains as contentious as ever. Obama and Republican critics are marking Monday’s fifth anniversary of the law’s passage with very contrasting views of its impact. For Obama, it’s about 16 million more Americans who now have health insurance, and an improving economy; for Republicans, it’s about higher premiums and canceled policies. “The Affordable Care Act has been the subject of more scrutiny, more rumor, more attempts to dismantle and undermine it than just about any law in recent history,” Obama said in a weekend statement. “But five years later, it is succeeding — in fact, it’s working better than even many of its supporters expected.” The president signed the law on March 23, 2010. Obama said the 16 million increase has cut the number of uninsured people by nearly a third. He said people with pre-existing conditions can now get insurance, and that gender differences in costs are being eliminated. While critics cited rising premium costs, Obama said that, last year, “the growth in health care premium costs for businesses matched its lowest level on record.” He also said that “health care prices have grown at their slowest rate in nearly 50 years since this law was passed,” helping reduce budget deficits. “Five years ago, we declared that in America, quality, affordable health care is not a privilege, it is a right,” Obama said. “And I’ll never stop working to protect that right for those who already have it, and extend it to those who don’t.” Republicans, meanwhile, focused on higher costs and bureaucratic problems with implementation of the law. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that “Obamacare has been one rolling disaster after another” since the president signed it into law in 2010. “It raided Medicare to finance more government spending; it led to canceled health plans for many who’d been told they’d be able to keep what they had and liked; and now it’s causing even more headaches at tax time,” McConnell said. “Fewer choices, higher costs, increased taxes, broken promises — and it’s still not working like the president said it would.” McConnell and other Republicans said the law involves too much government control, and that the market is a better source of overhaul for the health care system…”


Obamacare’s next 5 years will be better than the first 5

“When the Affordable Care Act became law five years ago, nobody foresaw the bungled rollout in 2013 or the huge row over canceled plans for several million people whose policies didn’t comply with the new law. But the next five years ought to be far smoother for the health reform law known as Obamacare. The ACA faces one more major hurdle: The lawsuit at the Supreme Court, known as King v. Burwell, over whether federal subsidies are valid in 34 states that rely on the federal exchange. If the court sides with the plaintiffs, seven million Obamacare enrollees could lose insurance, forcing a major revamp of the plan. But if the court upholds the law, Obamacare will finally be on track to become a fundamental pillar of the U.S. healthcare system, just like Medicare, the federal health program for retirees. “Over time, more and more people are going to draw benefits from the ACA,” says Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution. “Any [politician] running against Medicare today would be suicidal. The same thing will be true of the ACA at some point.” Even though it remains unpopular, the ACA is accomplishing what it was meant to do: Providing health insurance coverage for those who can’t otherwise afford it. More than 16 million Americans receive health insurance through the ACA, and the Congressional Budget Office expects that number to rise to 25 million by 2020. The vast majority of people will still get health insurance through an employer, but the ACA will cut the number of uninsured by half. It still won’t provide “universal coverage,” since there will be about 26 million uninsured Americans in 2020. That’s because the law allows many exemptions from the requirement for all adults to have coverage. But the ACA has pushed down the portion of Americans without insurance to 12.9%, the lowest level in 40 years. The uninsured rate is likely to stay there. It also stands to reason that the ACA will gradually become more popular as negative publicity wanes. The portion of Americans who dislike the law is still larger than the portion who favor it. But the gap has narrowed recently, with 43% of Americans opposed to the law and 41% in favor of it, the smallest difference between unfavorable and favorable views since the fall of 2012, according to polls by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Many gloomy predictions regarding the health law have failed to materialize. It hasn’t led to massive job cuts, as critics predicted, and employers haven’t dumped workers off their health plans en masse. Attitudes toward the plan will likely improve as these concerns fade….”


5 Years Later ObamaCare Is Still Going Strong, Says Unions

“Labor unions took to social media Monday to celebrate the fifth anniversary of President Barack Obama signing his healthcare overhaul into law. “On the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, we celebrate how the law is working to provide quality, affordable health coverage to more Americans than in four decades–and the ongoing fight of SEIU members to promote and protect it,” the Service Employees International Union declared on its Facebook page. Thanks to Obamacare, 129M ppl no longer have to worry abt an insurer denying or dropping their coverage #ACAIsWorking pic.twitter.com/e5oLNQYyYj — SEIU (@SEIU) March 23, 2015.”


CBS Cheers Anniversary of ObamaCare’s Signing; Uses WH Stats Passed Off as ‘Our Research Department’


5 years of Obamacare


Ads target House Dem ObamaCare supporters on law’s anniversary

“The House Republicans’ campaign arm is seizing on the fifth anniversary of ObamaCare to launch some of their first ads targeting Democrats ahead of 2016. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) announced Monday that it is running paid web ads against “the five most vulnerable” Democrats who voted for ObamaCare in 2010. “Already deep in the political wilderness, continuing to push Obamacare on hard working middle class families will only force more House Democrats to the exits in 2016,” the NRCC’s communications director Katie Martin wrote in a statement Monday. The ads show a birthday cake for ObamaCare with a voiceover that warns of high premiums and more regulations.  “The party’s over for House Democrats,” the ad warns. The ads are specifically targeting Reps. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) – who announced a Senate bid on Monday – as well as Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), Brad Ashford (D-Neb.) and Gwen Graham (D-Fla.). Those Democrats are among the NRCC’s 19 “most vulnerable” representatives, according to a release last month…”


At five-year mark, parties fight Obamacare messaging war

“It’s been five years since the creation of the Affordable Care Act and Republicans and Democrats are in a high-stakes messaging war over whether the law known has Obamacare has been a tremendous success, or a spectacular failure. “Higher premiums, higher deductibles, less choice, and fewer jobs — that’s the story of Obamacare five years later,” Senate GOP Conference Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., said on Monday. The Democrats’ signature legislative achievement has proven to be one big broken promise after another.” Democrats portray the law in stark contrast to the GOP, pointing to the millions of newly insured, many of them from low-income households who otherwise could not afford plans. “The Affordable Care Act has provided newfound health security to millions of children, women, workers and families,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “Thanks to this historic law, more than 16 million previously uninsured Americans have finally secured quality, affordable coverage for themselves and their families.” The PR battle between opponents and proponents of the law will likely play a significant role in its survival. Recent polling shows a range of support and opposition to the law. A March 3 Fox poll found 58 percent of the public remains opposed to the law, while a March 5 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed only 44 percent opposed. Republicans cite public opposition in their effort to gut Obamacare as soon as this year, perhaps by using a parliamentary budget maneuver that would require only 51 votes to repeal significant portions of the law…”


GAO: ObamaCare subsidies crucial for expanding coverage

“The government’s watchdog agency on Monday underscored the role of ObamaCare tax credits at a time when the Supreme Court could make them illegal in a majority of states.  The availability of ObamaCare subsidies helped drive the massive increase in healthcare coverage, the Government Accountability Office wrote in a 63-page report. The tax credits reduced healthcare costs for millions of people, which “likely contributed to an expansion of health insurance coverage” in 2014, according to the nonpartisan study. The new research bolsters support for the Obama administration’s long-time assertion that tax credits are a central part of the healthcare law’s success. The administration has redoubled its attention on ObamaCare’s subsidies in the wake of King v. Burwell, a Supreme Court case challenging subsidies in 34 states. If the court rules against the Obama administration, about 7.5 million people in those states could lose their subsidies – which federal officials have warned would lead to a “death spiral” in the insurance market. Nearly 90 percent of people who signed up for ObamaCare qualify for tax credits. With the help of tax credits, the average monthly premium is reduced to $264 a month, down from $346 a month. While about 8 million people signed up for ObamaCare in its first year, the report calls attention to the remaining uninsured. About 16 percent of nonelderly adults are still without healthcare, the majority of whom will not face penalties under ObamaCare because their incomes fall below the threshold or because they are undocumented. And even for those who already obtained coverage under ObamaCare, the report warns that many people are still having trouble affording the out-of-pocket costs. “All exchange enrollees are vulnerable to high out-of-pocket costs,” according to the report, which also said that “some insurers have limited the networks of providers covered by the plans offered on the exchanges.”


Obamacare saved hospitals $7 billion: HHS

GOP says law’s fifth birthday is nothing to celebrate

“Obamacare cut hospitals’ costs for treating uninsured patients by more than $7 billion last year, the administration said Monday in marking the fifth anniversary of the overhaul’s passage. Health and Human Services Department said states that opted to expand Medicaid accounted for $5 billion of the $7.4 billion reduction, which also factored in people who found private plans on the law’s health exchanges. The data is one side of markedly different views of the Affordable Care Act, which Democratic majorities muscled through Congress in early 2010 and remains a key repeal target for conservatives. Democrats say repeal would undo five years of progress on multiple fronts, citing reports that 16 million Americans gained coverage and that health spending has slowed because of the law. “Five years later, as more Americans enjoy affordable, quality health coverage, we know that the ACA works,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. “Yet, House Republicans continue their obsession with destroying this law and the health security it is providing millions and millions of American families.” While Mrs. Pelosi planned to rally with Democrats Tuesday on the Capitol steps, the Republican-majority Congress is trying to use an arcane part of the budget process to put a repeal bill on President Obama’s desk, forcing him to veto the will of Congress…”


HHS: Hospitals saved billions under ObamaCare


ObamaCare’s Utopian Employer Coverage Rules Backfire

“Sometimes lawmakers’ eyes are bigger than the government’s stomach. And amid the feast that was ObamaCare, Congress ordered up at least one dish too many. Even now, as supporters and opponents mark its fifth anniversary, the Obama administration is still trying to digest a provision of the law designed to ensure that the lowest-wage workers in a company can get the same health coverage as the CEO. The IRS sought public comment on the rule in 2010 and 2011, but has yet to reveal how it proposes to turn the vague instructions from Congress into law. At this point, it will be a surprise if the regulation ever sees the light of day. Yet keeping alive this unrealistic vision of everyone getting the same excellent employer health coverage has had a cost. Amid an absence of more sensible rules, ObamaCare has encouraged employers to offer a type of coverage that the law’s crafters thought was history: bare-bones plans that don’t cover hospitalization or surgery. A 2014 survey from the National Business Group on Health found that 16% of large employers planned to offer workers skinny coverage along with a more comprehensive plan that complied with ObamaCare rules. The Skinny On Employer Fines –

Why offer both kinds of policies? Companies will be absolved of any 2015 employer mandate penalties if they offer ObamaCare-compliant coverage, at least on a par with bronze-level exchange plans, for no more than 9.56% of a worker’s earnings. If an employer plan costs more than that, the worker becomes eligible for exchange subsidies that trigger a $3,120 after-tax penalty for each full-time worker who claims them. But 9.56% of income is a lot for a low-income worker to pay for a high-deductible plan. Even 8.05% of income — the threshold for the individual mandate tax penalty — is a lot for a low-income worker to pay for a plan with a high deductible. (If the cheapest compliant plan available costs more than 8.05% of income, the individual is exempted from the penalty for going uninsured.) That’s why some employers may think they’re doing their workers a favor by offering skinny coverage that may cost about $50 a month and will cover a few visits to the doctor’s office. Still, some employers with an eye on limiting fines likely hope that workers eligible for ObamaCare exchange subsidies will instead opt for a skinny plan. One-Size-Fits-All Plan? –  What is especially amazing about this state of affairs is that low-wage workers were supposed to be getting the same coverage as their bosses.

A small section of ObamaCare entitled “Prohibition on Discrimination in Favor of Highly Compensated Individuals” was supposed to extend rules governing self-funded plans to all employer-sponsored group plans. But benefits experts suggest the self-funded plan rules were fuzzy and often ignored in the past, and in the era of ObamaCare they make little sense. The IRS has signaled it will review those rules even as it writes regulations for fully insured plans.

The self-funded plan rules essentially require that health benefit plans offered to top executives be offered on similar terms to 80% of full-time workers over the age of 25. Yet offering isn’t enough; at least 70% of eligible workers must take the offer to prove nondiscrimination.

“Our concern is if an employer offers a variety of benefits and you see different take-up rates, that shouldn’t be the sniff test for nondiscrimination,” said Katie Mahoney, executive director of health policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce…”


EXCLUSIVE: Democratic Senators Beg For Another Obamacare Delay

“A group of Democratic senators is urging the Obama administration to delay a key portion of Obamacare because the results could be “harmful and disruptive.” In a letter exclusively obtained by The Daily Caller, Senate Democrats pleaded with Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell to delay an Obamacare rule change that puts companies with 51 to 100 employees in the costlier “small group” market instead of the “large group” market. The rule change, which will result in higher premiums for many companies, goes into effect in 2016. The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, Chris Coons, Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly and Jon Tester and independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats. “We are writing to share our concerns regarding scheduled changes to the definition of the small group market under the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” the senators wrote in the letter, dated March 12. “Under the law, employers with 51 to 100 employees will be included in the ACA’s definition of small group market starting in 2016. Instead of providing stability, we believe expanding the definition will force those historically defined ‘large group plans’ into the ‘small group market,’ where they could experience higher premiums, less flexibility, and new barriers to coverage. We therefore encourage you to delay the effective date in the definition change for two years so the market can more smoothly transition to the new rules.”..”


Obamacare repeal debate stalls budget talks in Congress

“Democrats insisted Monday that five years in, Obamacare is as healthy and successful as they hoped, even as it remains a political drag and as Republicans prepared for yet another assault in this week’s budget votes. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who will rally with fellow Democrats on Tuesday to commemorate the law, said 16 million Americans have gained coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act, while the Obama administration said the law has saved hospitals $7.4 billion they would otherwise have spent on uninsured patients. “Yet House Republicans continue their obsession with destroying this law and the health security it is providing millions and millions of American families,” Mrs. Pelosi said. Congressional Republicans said the milestone is nothing to celebrate. The law remains unpopular, they said, and Americans are paying more and losing their doctors while taxpayers and businesses grapple with insurance mandates and penalties. Republican leaders said they are prepared this week to pass budget resolutions that call for the law’s repeal. “By passing a balanced budget that’s about the future, we can leave Obamacare’s higher costs and broken promises where they belong — in the past — and start fresh, with real health reform,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said…”


Rubio rolls out ObamaCare alternative

“Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) outlined an ObamaCare alternative on Monday that he suggested could be put in place if the Supreme Court rules against the law in a decision expected this summer. The proposal from Rubio, who is considering a White House run next year, would provide health insurance for people who lose it if the Supreme Court strikes down subsidies provided on the federally run insurance market places, while introducing broader changes to the law. “After the downfall of ObamaCare — which I believe has been inevitable from the beginning, but may be precipitated by the Supreme Court decision later this year — a plan such as this will restore our people’s access to quality care,” Rubio writes in a Fox News op-ed.

“To mitigate the fallout that will come with the collapse of this law, and to meet the long-term goal of replacing it with conservative solutions, I have worked to assemble a three-part plan to serve as a foundation for the post-ObamaCare era.” Rubio’s plan would provide refundable tax credits to help people buy health insurance. The value of the credits would increase every year, and they would eventually equal the tax preference given to employer-based plans. He acknowledges that a court ruling to invalidate the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies would take away insurance from people and, therefore, requires a response. “Such a ruling should prove once and for all that ObamaCare cannot be fixed and must be fully repealed and replaced,” he writes. “That must be the ultimate goal of Congress and our next president. In the short term, however, we must also recognize the reality that the ruling would leave millions without health insurance.” While putting forward his own plan, he also points to a proposal from Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) to give people temporary financial assistance to keep their plans, and from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), to pair tax credits with allowing states to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s mandates. “The goal is to provide an off-ramp for our people to escape this law without losing their insurance, and all conservatives in Congress should work together toward this goal,” Rubio writes. His proposal also points to some traditional Republican healthcare ideas. He puts forward high-risk pools, which offer separate insurance, subsidized by the government, for people deemed too risky to buy insurance through the regular marketplace. That is an alternative to the healthcare law’s system of preventing insurers from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions while mandating that everyone buy insurance in an attempt to spread out the risk and get healthier people into the market, too. Rubio’s proposal for Medicare is similar to what was put forward in Ryan’s proposed budget and is strongly opposed by Democrats…”


How does Obamacare help low-income diabetes patients? First, it finds them.

“People in the more than two dozen states that expanded Medicaid under the health-care law are far more likely to be newly diagnosed with diabetes than those in states that did not expand Medicaid, according to a study being published Monday. The increased access to Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor and disabled, resulted in more people getting tested for and diagnosed with one of the most prevalent and treatable chronic conditions in the United States, said the researchers from Quest Diagnostics, a private clinical laboratory. For the study, researchers analyzed test results, stripped of identifying information, of Medicaid recipients diagnosed with diabetes in the first half of 2014. They found that diabetes cases jumped 23 percent from the year before in the 26 states and the District of Columbia, all of which expanded their Medicaid programs. In the nonexpansion states, the increase was less than 1 percent. The analysis is being published online in Diabetes Care, the official publication of the American Diabetes Association….”


McAuliffe: GOP letting Tea Party fears stymie Medicaid expansion

“Once Virginia Republicans get through this year’s election, they’ll be much more willing to expand Medicaid, according to Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe. McAuliffe — whose second attempt to expand the state’s Medicaid program under Obamacare was blocked this year by Republicans — said he chalks up the GOP resistance to political, not practical, concerns. Republican members are hesitant to embrace a major part of the health care law because they’re “terrified” it would open the door to a challenger from the right, he said Monday morning at an event in Arlington designed to tout the law’s benefits on its fifth anniversary. “They’re worried about a Tea Party primary challenge, it’s as plain and simple as that,” McAuliffe said. But once the state’s general election is over in November, McAuliffe said he’s holding out hope that at least some Republicans will come over to his side. Ever since taking office last year, he has tried to convince the GOP-led House and Senate to expand Medicaid, but both chambers have so far refused, citing concerns about the cost to the state…”


Did Anthony Kennedy Just Show His Hand On The Obamacare Subsidies Case?

“Justice Anthony Kennedy’s comments in a run-of-the-mill budget meeting Monday may have signaled how he intends to vote in this year’s biggest Obamacare lawsuit over the legality of federal premium subsidies. In a Monday budget request before the House Appropriations Committee, Justice Anthony Kennedy, typically the swing vote on the Court, made comments that could suggest he’s leaning in favor of the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell. The question in the pivotal case is whether the text of Obamacare restricts the law’s popular premium subsidies to state-run exchanges, of which there are only 14, and bans them from the vast majority of states that use the federally-run exchange, HealthCare.gov. The battle over the lawsuit about Obamacare subsidies currently before the Supreme Court has focused on whether anyone’s got a solution if the Court’s decision ends up skyrocketing HealthCare.gov premiums. The administration is arguing that the language in the bill doesn’t exclude federal marketplace customers from the subsidies and seems to be trying to convince the Court that ruling otherwise would be catastrophic for the health-care law, and therefore for the Court’s image. Department of Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Burwell has repeatedly sworn that the administration will not even have a back-up plan prepared in case they lose the case — although anonymous officials have said elsewhere that there is a contingency plan in place…”


First 2016 Obamacare ads are out

“Republicans have a new ad out attacking five vulnerable House Democrats over Obamacare, but only one of them actually voted for the health care law. The 30-second paid web ad — released by the National Republican Congressional Committee on the law’s fifth anniversary Monday — predicts political disaster for Reps. Gwen Graham and Patrick Murphy of Florida, Brad Ashford of Nebraska, Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona and Collin Peterson of Minnesota. But Kirkpatrick is the only one in the group to have voted for the Affordable Care Act in 2010. She lost her seat in the next election, partly over that vote, but reclaimed it in 2012. Peterson was the only other member in office at the time the healthcare law was passed, and he voted against it. The other three members have been elected since then; both Graham and Ashford defeated Republican incumbents in November and Murphy (who announced Monday he’s vying for Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat) is on his second term…”


There’s a Significant Reason Ted Cruz Chose March 23 to Announce His Presidential Bid

“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) officially announced his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination just after midnight on Twitter Monday — and the date, March 23, has some significance. The Cruz campaign revealed that the Texas senator chose the date because it’s the “anniversary of the disaster known as Obamacare.” President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010. Cruz became the first Republican to declare candidacy for 2016 — though the GOP field is expected to be crowded. Minutes after Cruz made the major announcement, tedcruz.org transformed into the conservative senator’s official 2016 campaign website. He also released his first campaign video, titled “A Time for Truth.” Watch below:..”


Cruz 2016 Annoucement: ‘Imagine Repealing Every Word of Obamacare, Abolishing the IRS’

“If Senator Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential announcement could be summed up in one word, that word would be “imagine.” The Texas lawmaker became the first Republican to announce a 2016 candidacy, addressing a raucous crowd of students at Lynchburg, Virginia’s Liberty University on Monday. Channeling John Lennon, Cruz repeatedly exhorted the students to imagine a better federal government. ”Instead of the joblessness, instead of the millions forced into part-time work, instead of the millions who’ve lost their health insurance, lost their doctor, have faced sky-rocketing health insurance premiums,” Cruz said, “imagine in 2017 a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare.” “Instead of a tax code that crushes innovation, that imposes burdens on families struggling to make ends meet,” he continued, “imagine a simple flat tax that let’s every American fill out his or her taxes on a postcard! Imagine abolishing the IRS!” Cruz also promised to secure the border, defend Second Amendment rights and support religious liberty. But the most powerful applause came when he called on his audience to “imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel” — a not-so-subtle dig at President Obama, whose chilly relationship with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu turned ice-cold after the prime minister’s re-election last week.”


After Cruz pledge to repeal ObamaCare, White House asks: Remember Romney?

“The White House on Monday warned Republican presidential hopefuls that promising to repeal President Obama’s signature healthcare reform law is a proven political loser. “There was a presidential candidate who ran in 2012 promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and that campaign pledge didn’t work out very well for him,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

The comments came on the same day Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) launched his presidential campaign pledging to roll back Obama’s agenda, including repealing “every word” of ObamaCare. Earnest was reluctant to speak in depth about the 2016 campaign, but he did allude to 2012 GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who also promised to repeal the healthcare law. Earnest, however, said he does not have a “direct response” to anything proposed by Cruz or any of the other potential presidential hopefuls seeking to replace Obama. He also declined to weigh in on Cruz’s desire to abolish the IRS. “There will be a robust debate about the future of the country,” Earnest said. “The president is certainly pleased about the substantial progress that has been made over the last six years. There is a lot more the president hopes to get done in his remaining two years in office.”


White House scoffs at Ted Cruz’s Obamacare repeal vow

“Marking Obamacare’s fifth anniversary Monday, the White House brushed off 2016 GOP campaign vows to scrap the law entirely, saying Republicans don’t have a track record that supports their ambitions. “There was a presidential candidate who ran in 2012 promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act and that campaign pledge didn’t work out very well for him,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said of the last GOP nominee for president, Mitt Romney. Mr. Earnest’s comments came hours after Sen. Ted Cruz, who once delivered a 21-hour filibuster to harangue Obamacare, announced his 2016 bid for the White House. “Imagine in 2017, a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare,” the Texas Republican said Monday during a speech at Liberty University in Virginia. The health care law continues to be a political flashpoint on Capitol Hill, as the new Republican-majority Congress looks to use a complex budget procedure known as “reconciliation” to put a repeal bill on President Obama’s desk, forcing him to veto Congress’ will. Mr. Earnest declined to spar with Mr. Cruz over Obamacare or his other proposals, such as abolishing the IRS…”


What did Jeb Bush do to fight Obamacare?

“For many conservatives, the fight against Obamacare has been the defining battle of President Obama’s years in the White House. For them, and probably a majority of the Republican base, fighting first against the passage of the Affordable Care Act and later pressing to repeal it have been so important because: A) they strongly oppose the substance of the law, and B) they see opposition to Obamacare as the best way to resist the president’s overall expansion of government. That the struggle has so far been a losing one has not changed the fact that conservatives require their presidential candidates to have solid anti-Obamacare bona fides. Recently a well-known conservative activist, recalling the GOP effort to stop the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010, asked: Where was Jeb Bush? I don’t remember him being there when we were doing everything we could to derail Obamacare. “A big vulnerability for the governor, when the debates start, is to remind us again, where were you during the battle over Obamacare?” noted that activist, Gary Bauer, of the conservative group American Values. “I don’t recall much [from him] during those years. I don’t think not being a veteran of those wars is a plus for Gov. Bush.” Bauer is basically right. In 2009 and early 2010, as Obamacare made its troubled way through Congress, Bush — a respected former two-term Republican governor of Florida with solid conservative credentials — remained mostly silent about the biggest public policy fight in a generation. Bush statements that even tangentially touched on the Affordable Care Act were few and far between. In March 2009, for example, as the battle was just beginning, Bush penned an op-ed calling for conservatives to be the “loyal opposition” in the face of far-reaching Democratic initiatives. He added: “Simply opposing the massive encroachment of government into health care won’t solve the problem of affordability of health insurance for many Americans.”


Clinton tweets ‘embrace’ of ObamaCare

“Hillary Clinton made clear her embrace of ObamaCare in a tweet on Monday marking the law’s fifth anniversary. “Hillary Clinton @HillaryClinton #ACA@5: 16m covered. Young ppl. Preexisting conditions. Women get better coverage. Repeal those things? Embrace them!” Earlier on Monday, Clinton met with Obama at the White House for about an hour to discuss “a range of topics,” according to the White House.  One of the main questions ahead of Clinton’s expected presidential campaign is on what issues she will seek some distance from Obama. But on ObamaCare, she is making clear her support…”



Obama Announces Unilateral Action To Bring In More Guest Workers

“President Barack Obama plans to take unilateral action to “make it easier” for global companies to send guest workers to the United States, he announced Monday. The action could benefit “hundreds of thousands” of new guest workers, who would be competing with American workers for jobs. “My administration is going to reform the L-1B visa category, which allows corporations to temporarily move workers from a foreign office to a U.S. office in a faster, simpler way,” he said in a speech Monday to a global investors summit at the Gaylord National Convention Center in Maryland. ”And this could benefit hundreds of thousands of nonimmigrant workers and their employers.” The L-1B visa allows foreign companies who plan to start an office in the U.S. to send “specialized knowledge employees” to the states for between 3 and 7 years to start an office. And it allows U.S. companies with foreign offices to transfer workers from those offices to offices in the states. The stated goal of the program is to incentivize companies to invest in the U.S., but businesses have started using the program to replace American workers with dramatically cheaper foreign workers. A 2006 Inspector General report found the program riddled with abuse, and recommended Congress take action to protect American workers

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