Over one-third of the 9.1 million full-time jobs among America’s diverse business franchises could be cut back or eliminated by Obamacare as small businesses struggle to maintain profitability while coughing up money to pay for Washington-mandated health care coverage, according to the International Franchise Association.
Cause premiums to skyrocket.Â In December,Â state insurance commissioners warnedÂ Obama administration officials that the law’s market regulations would likely cause “rate shocks,” particularly for younger, healthier people forced by ObamaCare to subsidize premiums for those who are older and sicker.
“We are very concerned about what will happen if essentially there is so much rate shock for young people that they’re bound not to purchase (health insurance) at all,” said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
That same month, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said ObamaCare will likelyÂ cause premiums to doubleÂ for some small businesses and individuals.
And a more recent survey of insurers in five major cities by theÂ American Action ForumÂ found they expect premiums to climb an average 169%.
Cost people their jobs.Â The Federal Reserve’s MarchÂ beige bookÂ on economic activity noted that businesses “cited the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.”
Around the same time,Â Gallup reportedÂ a surge in part-time work in advance of ObamaCare’s employer mandate. It found that part-timers accounted for almost 21% of the labor force, up from 19% three years ago.
Meanwhile, human resources consulting firmÂ AdeccoÂ found that half of the small businesses it surveyed in January either plan to cut their workforce, not hire new workers, or shift to part-time or temporary help because of ObamaCare.
Tax the middle class.Â IBD reportedÂ in February that much of the $800 billion in tax hikes imposed by ObamaCare will end up hitting the middle class, including $45 billion in mandate penalties, $19 billion raised by limiting medical expense deductions, $24 billion through strict limits on flexible spending accounts, plus another $5 billion because ObamaCare bans using FSAs to buy over-the-counter drugs.
The Obama administration is planning new cuts to Medicare, a federal regulatory filing reveals, cuts that could mean higher premiums or seniors losing their coverage altogether.
The new cuts come in the form of a planned reduction in the reimbursement rates the government pays to insurance companies that operate Medicare Advantage plans, which are services administered by private for-profit or non-profit providers that offer additional services than can be found in traditional Medicare.
Though Democrats denied it during the 2012 campaign, Obamacare cutÂ MedicareÂ by $716 billion in order to partially fund $1.9 trillion in new entitlement spending over the next ten years. A big chunk of those Medicare cuts came from the market-oriented MedicareÂ AdvantageÂ program. Cleverly, the Obama administration postponed the Medicare Advantage cuts until after the election, so as to persuade seniors that everything would be just fine. But the election is over. On Friday, the administration announced that it would be significantly reducing funding for the popular program. Obamaâ€™s proposal, according to one analyst, â€œwould turn almost every plan in the industry unprofitable.
Democrats have long been hostile to theÂ MedicareÂ Advantage program, which allows seniors to get their Medicare coverage through plans administered by private insurers. Today, more than a quarter of retirees get their coverage through Medicare Advantage, and the program has experienced rapid growth over the past decade. Richard Foster, the recently-retired chief actuary of the Medicare program, has projected that Obamacareâ€™s cuts to Medicare Advantage would force half of its current enrollees to switch back to the old, 1965-vintage Medicare program.Â Robert BookÂ and James Capretta estimate that this will cost enrollees anÂ average of $3,714 in 2017 alone.
Come January, many children currently enrolled in the State Childrenâ€™s HealthÂ Insurance Program (CHIP) will be compulsorily moved out of their current health plans and into state-run Medicaid plans â€“ as a result of Obamacare.
During the 2012 election campaign, Democrats denied that ObamaCare made $716 billion in cuts to Medicare in order to provide funding toward $1.9 trillion in new entitlement spending over the next ten years.
In an announcement on Friday, however, the Obama administration revealed that it would be significantly reducing funding for Medicare, a move that one health insurance analystÂ saidÂ â€œwould turn almost every plan in the industry unprofitable.â€
[…] Â Â Regarding the cuts, Americaâ€™s Health Insurance Plansâ€™ (AHIP) president Karen Ignagni said, â€œWashington cannot tax and cut Medicare Advantage this much and not expect seniors to be harmed.”
Younger, healthier people, many of whom voted forÂ Mr. ObamaÂ in droves, will see their insurance premiums climb sharply as Obamacare demands that insurers provide them with more medical coverage than they want or need.
[…] Â Mark Bertolini, CEO ofÂ Aetna Inc.Â â€” the nationâ€™s third-largest health insurance company â€” warned at the end of 2012 that Americans will face a â€œpremium rate shockâ€ when the presidentâ€™s tidal wave of regulations kick in next year.
Mr. BertoliniÂ predicts unsubsidized insurance premiums will shoot up by 20 percent to 50 percent, on average.
Those numbers may be just for the lucky ones. Some consumers will see their costs double. â€œWeâ€™re going to see some markets go up as much as 100 percent,â€Â Mr. BertoliniÂ toldÂ BloombergÂ News.
In less than a year, Americans will be hit with not only higher insurance premiums, but massive tax increases:
While much of the dialogue on healthcare reform centers on the federal mandate of health coverage for all Americans â€“ which many conservatives call the largest tax increase in U.S history â€“ less attention is being given to the massive sales tax increase on the purchase of health insurance also implicit within the legislation that will dramatically escalate costs for employers and consumers.
[T]he tax increases that remain on the books will cost taxpayers more than $675 billion over the next ten years. Chief among these will be the sales tax on the purchase of health insurance, totaling $101.7 billion, and making it larger than all the other industry-specific taxes combined.
â€œThe health insurance tax will add a financial burden on families and small businesses at a time when they can least afford it, and it should be repealed, â€ says AHIP, a trade association representing health insurance industry providers, in todayâ€™s call for the repeal of the health insurance tax before it can take affect.
Last month, the CEO of the nationâ€™s largest health insurance company warned that he and his peers may balk at participating in Obamacareâ€™s insurance exchanges â€” online, government-run portals where consumers and small businesses without conventional employer-sponsored coverage may shop for policies starting next year.
[…] Â Thatâ€™s ominous news for Obamacare. If insurers donâ€™t participate in the lawâ€™s exchanges, then consumers who had hoped to secure affordable coverage through the new marketplaces will instead find few choices and high prices. Taxpayers could be hit hard, too, as higher premiums in the exchanges will require more public spending on subsidies.
[A]s ObamaCare’s official launch date approaches, even its backers are beginning to admit that the law could actually create powerful incentives for millions of people and thousands of businesses to drop their coverage, despite the mandate.
[…] Â “We are very concerned,” California Insurance Commissioner Dave JonesÂ told federal health officialsÂ at a December meeting, “if there is so much rate shock for young people that they’re bound not to purchase (health insurance) at all.”
The cause of this rate shock is simple: ObamaCare imposes what is called “community rating” on insurance companies, effectively forcing them to charge the young and healthy more so they can charge older and sicker consumers less.
[…] Â ObamaCare also forbids insurance companies from turning anyone down â€” a reform called “guaranteed issue” â€” which also will provide an incentive for some to drop coverage, knowing they can get it back any time.
“Even with the tax penalty … some healthy people would avoid purchasing coverage until they are sick,” Howard Shapiro, director of public policy at the Alliance of Community Health Plans,Â told regulatorsÂ .
The problem is that if the young and healthy drop coverage, the result would be what the industry calls a “death spiral.” Premiums will climb as the pool of insured gets sicker, causing still more to cancel their policies.
“We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” ~ Nancy Pelosi
That “free” healthcare they shoved down our throats is going to come as a real punch to the gut for families like mine! Our budget is strapped enough as it is, and now we’ll be slammed with thousands of dollars in fines because we’ve chosen to cash pay our providers.
We haven’t been able to afford health insurance for the past three years. Â I’d like to just buy catastrophic coverage like you can for other insurance (car, home), but nooooo, you HAVE to buy comprehensive for stuff you don’t want (drug detox, psychotherapy, etc.) which is more than a mortgage payment, and you’re not allowed to shop across state lines for a better deal. They take away your choices and box you in until you have NO CHOICE but to go on a government plan. And that’s EXACTLY the agenda here – they want to bankrupt the insurance industry by taking away their customers and forcing everyone onto single-payer.
This HURTS poor and middle class families, and they don’t give a damn, because they want to force us all into government healthcare.Â Â It’s infuriating!
In new, final regulations issued Wednesday, theÂ Internal Revenue Service (IRS)Â said that parents must pay a federal fine under Obamacare if their children or dependent spouses are uninsured for any part of the year.
[I]f a child goes without government-defined health insurance coverage for any month of the year, their parent must pay a fine to the government, regardless of whether they claim the child as a dependent or not.
The only thing that matters to the IRS is whether the parent could claim the uninsured child as a dependent.
The same rule applies for an uninsured spouse if the couple files a single tax return. If they file a joint return, both parents are liable for the fine.
[…] Â Uninsured adult family members use the full per-person cost of $695 per person when calculating their penalty, while uninsured children are penalized half of the adult cost â€“ $347.50 per child. The amount of penalty parents may face will change every year after 2016, the IRS said, and parents will face a phased-in penalty between 2014 and 2016.
For 2014, parents could face a penalty of either $47.50 per child â€“ under 18 â€“ up to $285 total.
For 2015, the per-child penalty is $162.50 per child up to $975 total.
For 2016, the per-child penalty is $347.50 per child up to $2,085 total.
The per-person penalty is capped at $2,085 for 2016, but that cap will rise with inflation every year thereafter.
While the per-person penalty is capped each year, families can still owe more if their income is high enough because the law states that families must pay the greater of either the per-person penalty of 2.5 percent of their taxable income.
What can you do to avoid the fines? Â Just put that $20,000 in extra cash you have laying around to good use:
In aÂ final regulationÂ issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assumed that under Obamacare the cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year.
Under Obamacare, Americans will be required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS.
The IRS’s assumption that the cheapest plan for a family will cost $20,000 per year is found in examples the IRS gives to help people understand how to calculate the penalty they will need to pay the government if they do not buy a mandated health plan.
The examples point to families of four and families of five, both of which the IRS expects in its assumptions to pay a minimum of $20,000 per year for a bronze plan.
For middle-class families that are barely making it right now, this is going to drive millions of them into poverty and forced dependence on the welfare state. It infuriates me how many Christians supported this travesty because they bought the lie that this is “compassion!”
The White House issued new rules on Wednesday regarding the individual mandate requirements of Obamacare, stressing those that allow for exemptions from the requirement to buy insurance.
The new rules sought to play down the scope of Obamacareâ€™s unpopular individual mandate requirement,Â The Hill reports.
The exceptions, detailed by the Internal Revenue Service and the Health and Human Services Department, were included in regulations that also outlined the process by which the IRS will calculate penalties for not having insurance, The Hill reports.
The individual mandate requires most taxpayers to buy insurance or pay an IRS fine. It remains one of Obamacareâ€™s most politically unpopular provisions â€” and it formed the basis of the case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
HHS called the individual mandate provision a system of â€œshared responsibilityâ€ payments.
But the penalty for not having insurance â€œapplies only to the limited group of taxpayers who choose to spend a substantial period of time without coverage despite having ready access to affordable coverage,â€ the agency said in a fact sheet provided to The Hill.
Who decides what is “ready access to affordable coverage?” Â Bureaucrats, of course! Â Busybodies who decide whether or not health insurance is “affordable” for your budget, no matter what other demands you may have on it.
What if that “affordable coverage” includes something that violates your faith, like abortion? Â Tough luck, honey! Â You’ll be forced to buy it against your conscience, because Washington has decided that your “right” to “free” healthcareÂ supersedesÂ your unalienable 1st Amendment rights.
Of course, the central planners aren’t as perfect and omniscient as they think they are, and already a huge “glitch” has appeared:
Some families could get priced out of health insurance due to what’s being called a glitch in President Barack Obama’s overhaul law. IRS regulations issued Wednesday failed to fix the problem as liberal backers of the president’s plan had hoped.
As a result, some families that can’t afford the employer coverage that they are offered on the job will not be able to get financial assistance from the government to buy private health insurance on their own. How many people will be affected is unclear.
The Obama administration says its hands were tied by the way Congress wrote the law. Officials said the administration tried to mitigate the impact. Families that can’t get coverage because of the glitch will not face a tax penalty for remaining uninsured, the IRS rules said.
“This is a very significant problem, and we have urged that it be fixed,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, an advocacy group that supported the overhaul from its early days. “It is clear that the only way this can be fixed is through legislation and not the regulatory process.”
But there’s not much hope for an immediate fix from Congress, since the House is controlled by Republicans who would still like to see the whole law repealed.
The affordability glitch is one of a series of problems coming into sharper focus as the law moves to full implementation.
Dec. 14 has come and gone, and President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act â€” better known as Obamacare â€” has received a stunning blow.
State governments had until Dec. 14 to decide whether they would build their own health-insurance exchanges, online services that allow individuals to purchase private health insurance if it wasn’t provided by their employers.
The exchanges now have been rebuked by half the states, which have refused to participate in this critical component of Obamacare.
Their refusal won’t stop exchanges in their states. Under the law, states that don’t create an exchange can have the federal government deal with this expensive task.
Only 18 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to build and manage their own exchanges. Seven others have taken a middle course and will partner with the federal government to create their exchanges.
Why have so many states opted out when it comes to the exchanges? Part of the reason undoubtedly is political.
Most of the states carried by Mitt Romney in the Nov. 6 election are those now refusing to build their own exchanges. That is no coincidence. These are states with populations that, generally speaking, would vote by clear majorities to repeal Obamacare if they were permitted to do so.Â
The elected governments in these states were plainly listening to their citizens when they decided to say no to a state-run health-insurance exchange.
Healthcare analysts have estimated it would cost each state $10 million to $100 million per year to run a health insurance exchange. The Obama administration cannot afford to absorb these costs, hoping instead to pass the burden down to the states.
[…] Â Writing in theÂ Wall Street Journal, James Capretta and Yuval Levin wrote that the “idea that creating state exchanges would give states control over their insurance markets is a fantasy” because states would simply be “enforcing a federal law and federal regulations, with very little room for independent judgment.”
“By declining to build exchanges, the states would pass the burden and costs of the exchanges to the administration that sought this law,” they wrote. “And it is far from clear that the administration could operate the exchanges on its own.” Â […]
They determined that if enough states “refuse to create their own exchanges,” they could, in effect, “be repealing a large part of the law,” especially since doing so would exempt businesses from Obamacare’s employer mandate.
With control of congress and the purse strings, Boehner could lead the fight to simply defund and starve the beast. Â But no, he insists on being the enabler who wags a finger at the president’s power grabs and spending addiction, but caves and gives him the money for his next fix, anyway.
If it is reckless to shut down the government over Obamacare, then there is nothing in the budget worth fighting for.Â Due to the degree of entrenchment of the existing entitlement, even Paul Ryanâ€™s plan will not balance the budget for another 26 years.Â If Obamacare is not defunded within the next year, it will be virtually impossible to completely repeal and will make a balanced budget an impossibility.
Well, they said all along that weâ€™d wait until 2012. They were sure weâ€™d win the election.Â Ironically, by running away from the Obamacare issue, they ensured that we would not win the election.Â Now that they lost, they say tough luck on Obamacare.
Yes, I know what youâ€™re thinking: â€œif we create gridlock over Obamacare, we willâ€¦..â€Â We will what?Â We will risk political reprisal?Â Then what are we fighting for in the first place?Â If we are unwilling to fight the implementation of a 4thÂ entitlement program, how will we ever have the moxie to fix the existing ones?
[…] Â This is it, folks.Â If we are unwilling to engage in a fight to the death of Obamacare, there is nothing worth fighting for.Â And frankly, there will be nothing to fight for.
This isnâ€™t aÂ tacticalÂ decision.Â Itâ€™sÂ reality.Â The ACA is not a static law; most of its provisions will go into effect in the next two years, and after that repeal will be immensely difficult, thanks to its transformational nature in relation to the insurance and health-provider industries.Â Itâ€™s going to be too late to â€œpull this weed up by its rootsâ€ by 2017, the next possible spot on the calendar to do so.Â By then, we will have to offer a second round of transformation that starts in the context of ObamaCare., and hope we have a Republican President and Republican majorities to even get that process under way.
We had only two ways to stop ObamaCare.Â Either we needed a new President with Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress, or veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers of Congress.Â Voters didnâ€™t provide John Boehner with either option.Â When we say that elections have consequences, this is exactly what we mean.
“Heâ€™s not a conservative.Â He blurts out platitudes but he doesnâ€™t give a damn.Â Heâ€™s ready to dealâ€¦Obama hasnâ€™t said a damn thing publicly and already Boehnerâ€™s negotiating with himself – throwing out one principle after another.â€
[…] Â Levin suggested the Obama circle is laughing at Boehner.Â Speaking as an Obama adviser, Levin said, “Look at Boehner, he’s wetting himself.Â We’re waiting for him to cry, to get on his knees and beg for a deal.Â He’s going to sell out his party; he’s going to sell out his principles.”Â “They are in complete surrender mode.”
“This party better change, or I’m getting out,” Levin stated.
Our family has been without health insurance for three years. Â We simply couldn’t afford it. Â We’ve been paying out of pocket to see our naturopath or a private urgent care instead. Â Now we’re going to be forced into a government exchange, waiting on long waiting lists to see hurried doctors and receive substandard care. Â So much for “quality” and “choice.”
Tuesday night’s win in the presidential contest for President Obama was a win for ObamaCare, the president’s signature legislation from his first term. ObamaCare will now continue to be implemented.
This future means that we will continue to be faced with rising insurance premiums, as our current insurance expands to cover all patients regardless of pre-existing condition, age, or how many times they’ve already used the policy.
Insurance will continue to follow a one-size-fits all model, where it is easy to overuse but may not cover our latest expensive technology which offer more personalized solutions.
Federal regulations in the form of Medicare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board as well as ObamaCare’s many other committees will restrict my choices for my patients. I will have more patients with more red tape and less time to spend with them.
[…] Â Medical care will be shifted more and more to the hospital and medical center, which are more equipped to preserve their bottom line profits despite increasing federal regulations.
[…] Â Doctors will cherry-pick their patients, staying away from those who are too sick to allow them to apply for financial incentives.
[…] Â If the current economic climate continues, small businesses will be reluctant to add more employees and large businesses will prefer to pay the ObamaCare penalty than pay the increasing premiums.
More and more people will get their health insurances at the state exchanges, where taxes pay for federal stipends in states which have created their own exchanges.
The bottled-up rules to set up President Barack Obamaâ€™s health care reform law are going to start flowing quickly right after Election Day.
But how long will that last? That depends on who wins the presidency.
The once-steady stream of regulations and rules from the Obama administration â€” instructions for insurance companies, hospitals and states on how to put the law in place â€” has slowed to a trickle in recent months in an attempt to avoid controversies before the election. Many states, too, have done little public work to avoid making the law an election issue for state officials on the ballot.
But work has been going on behind the scenes â€” both in the Department of Health and Human Services and at the state level. As soon as Wednesday, the gears and levers of government bureaucracy are likely to start moving at full speed again.
HHS is expected to begin to release the backlog of regulations. And the states will quickly face a Nov. 16 deadline to tell the Obama administration whether theyâ€™ll implement a health insurance exchange â€” a key part of the law about where consumers will purchase health insurance after 2014.
If Obama wins, that work is likely to continue through the early years of his second term. Democrats will want the law put in place as quickly as possible. They face a late 2013 deadline to have the exchanges ready to go.
And if Romney wins, the need to get the rules out may become even more urgent for Democrats. Any rules or regulations that are not final by Nov. 22 â€” 60 days before Romney would be sworn in â€” can be easily put on hold on Jan. 20.
That means the Obama administration would have a huge incentive to have as much of the health law as possible in â€œfinalâ€ rule form within two weeks of a Romney victory. Rules and regulations that arenâ€™t final can be more easily changed than those that are.
One of the nation’s largest Bible publishers is being forced to file a lawsuit against the HHS contraception mandate or go out of business, since HHS doesn’t consider companies like his “religious” enough to qualify for an exemption.
I never thought I would live to see the day when an American citizen would need an exemption in order to avoid being penalized by a law that forces them to violate their conscience.
â€˜Tyndale was left with no alternative but to go to court,â€ explains Mark D. Taylor, president and CEO of Tyndale House Publishers. On the day before the first presidential debate, the company, which Taylorâ€™s parents started when he was eleven years old, filed the 31st lawsuit over the Department of Health and Human Servicesâ€™ abortion-drug, sterilization, and contraception mandate.
TyndaleÂ publishes Bibles. But that doesnâ€™t make it a religious endeavor. Not in the federal governmentâ€™s book. Not as of August 1, anyway. That was the day that the HHS mandate â€” a regulation further defining the health-care legislation that thenâ€“Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was right to tell us Congress would be passing before anyone knew what it actually contained â€” went into effect. Family businesses like Tyndale â€” which happen to be run by religious folk who want to live their lives true to what they believe â€” donâ€™t qualify for any kind of â€œaccommodationâ€ or exemption.
â€œThe law does not give any religious-freedom exemption to faith-based operations like Tyndale,â€ Taylor, who is being represented by theÂ Alliance Defending Freedom, points out. â€œInstead, it imposes crushing fines on employers who are doing nothing more than following their consciences against abortion-inducing pills. The government is supposed to promote conscience protection, not attack it. The best solution is for Congress or the administration to respect the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by eliminating the abortion-pill mandate. But if they refuse to do their duty, we hope the courts will rule that the mandate is unlawful.â€
Iâ€™ve always thoughtâ€”in a theoretical wayâ€”that I might someday face a situation where the government was asking or telling me to do something that was counter to Godâ€™s law as I understood it. If such a situation arose, I hoped I would have the backbone to stand tall and disobey the government mandate. Well, that day seems to have come.
[…] Â The federal government is telling us to violate our conscience or pay fines that would put us out of business.
So we have joined a growing list of Christian organizationsâ€”both nonprofit and for-profitâ€”who have filed lawsuits against the HHS mandate. Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit law firm that specializes in religious freedom issues, represents us. We hope and pray we will get relief from the judicial system.
The day after we filed the lawsuit, the daily reading fromÂ The One Year Bibleincluded the first chapter of Jeremiah and these verses:
â€œThe LORD gave me this message: â€˜I knew you before I formed you in your motherâ€™s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nationsâ€™â€ (Jeremiah 1:4-5, NLT).
Howâ€™s that for biblical confirmation that the unborn baby is important in the eyes of God! After reading that passage, I felt confirmed in my responsibility to stand up against a government that is trampling on my religious liberty. May God be merciful to all of us.
Thanks to an Obamacare regulation that took effect on Aug. 1, health care plans in Oregon will now be required to provide free sterilizations to 15- year-old girls even if the parents of those girls do not consent to the procedure.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finalized the regulation earlier this year.
It says that all health care plans in the United States–except those provided by actual houses of worship organized under the section of the Internal Revenue Code reserved for churches per se–must provide coverage, without cost-sharing, for sterilizations and all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives to â€œall women with reproductive capacity.â€
In practical terms, “all women with reproductive capacity” means girls as young as about 12. That, according to theÂ National Institutes of Health, is when girls usually start menstruating.
[…] Â HHS said nothing about restricting the provision of these free “preventive services” to women who were 18 or older, or 21 or older, or even 15 or older. The regulation simply said “all women with reproductive capacity.”
However, states have varying laws on the age of consent. CNSNews.com took a look at Oregon and its rule of consent for sterilization–one of the free services required by the Obama administration’s regulation.
In Oregon, the age of informed consent is 15, and the law and rules on sterilization are detailed in theOregon Revised StatutesÂ (ORS) 436.205 to 436.335.
Under Oregon law, girls from 15 years of age and up are given complete control over whether to be sterilized or not. The parents or guardians of a minor girl–between 15 and 18–can neither grant nor deny consent for a sterilization.
Starting today, businesses will be fined $100 per employee per day to not violate their conscience. For a business like Hercules with 265 employees, the fine will amount to $26,500 PER DAY…essentially bankrupting them.
Religious liberty is a fundamental right guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution, not a mere â€œvalueâ€ whose worth is subject to devaluation by any given Administrationâ€™s policy. Regrettably, devaluation of this first principle is exactly what weâ€™ve seen from the Obama Administration, which after a year of such lip service to religious liberty has held firmly to its original mandate despite widespread, intense, and ecumenical outcry against it.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebeliusâ€™s latest promise rings hollow and adds insult to the grievous injury that HHS is already doing to Americans who believe that religious liberty is not something that stops when one leaves a house of worship.
The anti-conscience HHS mandate is now in effect.
What happens starting today?
Today signals the beginning of a season of impossible decisions for employers who, for reasons of conscience, have not been paying for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, or sterilization for their employees. Employers are now required to offer these services for â€œfreeâ€â€”meaning the employers pick up the cost of including these services in their health insurance plans. At the renewal of their health plan years, the HHS mandate will force employers into an untenable choice: violate their deeply held beliefs or forfeit the provision of health insurance altogether and risk steep fines.
If employers donâ€™t comply, what happens to them?
If employers donâ€™t change their plans, they will be hit with finesâ€”up to $100 per employee per day. But if they stop providing health coverage, Obamacareâ€™s double whammy means that employers with more than 50 employees could instead be hit with fines for that.
For many, the level of these fines would mean going out of business. Applying the $100 per employee per day fine to Hercules Industries, for exampleâ€”the family-owned business with 265 employees that is challenging the mandate in Coloradoâ€”would mean a fine ofÂ $800,000 per monthâ€”almost $10 million per year.
If Hercules were to drop its health coverage, forcing its employees into government-run exchanges under Obamacare, it would face a fine on faith of approximately $2,000 per employee per year, for a total of $530,000 per year.
What about the Administrationâ€™s â€œsafe harborâ€ promised to delay the mandateâ€™s effects?
The Administration gave a very narrow exemption from the mandate to religious houses of worship serving their own members. Among the many employers who do not meet the Administrationâ€™s narrow religious exemption, some may be able to get a one-year reprieve from the HHS mandate under the Administrationâ€™sÂ â€œtemporary safe-harborâ€ provision. Non-profit religious employers are eligible for the safe harbor only if they meet the Administrationâ€™sÂ four-part test.
Even then, the temporary safe harbor only delays the inevitable, merely giving religious employers an extra 12 months to silence their consciences and get in line with the governmentâ€™s mandate. Many religious employers and all for-profit employersÂ do not qualifyÂ for the safe harbor and are subject to the HHS mandate starting today.
Is anyone still challenging this?
This fight is far from over. AlmostÂ 60 organizationsÂ have joined more than 20 lawsuits against the HHS mandate, including both for-profit and non-profit employers.
The first legal decision came just last Friday when a judge in Colorado issued a preliminary injunction against the mandate. The mandate will not be enforced against family-ownedÂ Hercules IndustriesÂ while it has a fair hearing on the issue in court.
Is this the last of Obamacareâ€™s mandates?
This is only the beginning of the problems that Americans will continue to see as Obamacareâ€™s mandatory â€œessential benefitsâ€ package takes shape. Obamacare gave enormous power to the HHS to craft the rules of the 2,700-page health care law, and we still donâ€™t know very many details of how it will be implemented. Conveniently, many of Obamacareâ€™s new rules and new taxes donâ€™t hit Americans until well after the presidential election, in 2014.
The anti-conscience mandate is a warning sign for us all of how one-size-fits-all health care requirements will trample on religious liberty as well as individual liberty. Centralization of health care is simply incompatible with freedomâ€”religious freedom or any type of individual freedom. The only way to restore our liberties is to repeal Obamacare.
Wheaton College, an evangelical institution, joined forces Wednesday with Catholic University of America to sue the government for requiring that it provide health insurance coverage for some abortifacient drugs to its employees and students.
Wheaton’s main reason for filing suit, Dr. Philip Ryken, president of Wheaton College, explained in a Wednesday conference call with reporters, is that the pro-life institution opposes the use of abortifacient drugs and would be forced to violate its religious beliefs.
“This insurance mandate is against our conscience and against our Christian convictions. We have no recourse now but to file suit,” Ryken said.
Ryken added that Wheaton and Catholic University also wanted to demonstrate cross-denominational solidarity on the issue ofÂ religious freedom.
“We have a respect for Roman Catholic institutions and in this case we recognize we have common cause with Catholic University of America and other Catholic institutions in defending religious liberty. We’re, in effect, co-belligerents in this fight against government action. I think the fact thatÂ evangelicalsÂ and Catholics are coming together on this issue ought to be a sign to all Americans that something really significant for religious liberty is at stake.”
John Garvey, president of Catholic University of America, said that the addition of Wheaton College to the now 24 lawsuits demonstrates that the issue is about religious freedom, not contraception.
House lawmakers voted Wednesday to repeal the federal health care overhaul — the latest in a long line of anti-ObamaCare votes, but the first since the Supreme Court upheld the law and defined one of its key provisions as a “tax.”
The House has voted more than 30 times to scrap, defund or undercut the law since Obama signed it in March 2010. As with those bills, the repeal bill approved Wednesday on a 244-185 vote faces certain demise in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
But Republicans were looking to get lawmakers back on record on the law in the wake of the high court ruling last month. The ruling upheld most the law as constitutional, but in doing so it determined that the controversial penalty on those who do not buy insurance technically qualifies as a “tax” and not a “penalty” as the administration had claimed. That definition fueled GOP criticism of the law, and put some Democrats in a politically tricky position.
Five Democrats ended up defecting Wednesday. Reps. Mike Ross, D-Ark.; Dan Boren, D-Okla.; Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.; Larry Kissell, D-N.C.; and Jim Matheson, D-Utah, all voted yes.
How to get it to the floor:Â Once the Senate receives the â€œRepeal of ObamaCare Actâ€ from the House of Representatives, it is expected that a conservative Senator will use the Senateâ€™s rules to force a vote. A Senator can useÂ Rule 14Â of the Senateâ€™s rules to object to a second reading of the bill. This objection would place the House-passed Obamacare repeal bill in a position for debate on a motion to proceed to the bill and a roll-call vote on whether the Senate should consider the measure.
If conservatives fumble the ball and no Senator objects to the second reading, then conservatives will have lost an opportunity for a vote. Failure to object using the Senateâ€™s rules sends the bill to the black hole of a Senate Committee controlled by liberals. The repeal of Obamacare legislation would not be heard from again this Congress.
How long it would take:Â Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Râ€“KY) or any other member of the Republican caucus can lodge an objection to the second reading of the bill that will start a two-day process to get the legislation on the Senate calendar. Once on the Senate calendar, the legislation can be considered at any point during the duration of this Congress.
Once on the Senate calendar, any Senator can start the debate and trigger a recorded vote. All that Senator would need is to gather up 16 Senate signatures on a cloture petition pursuant toÂ Rule 22Â to commence a debate. The Senator then would take his cloture petition and file it with the clerk of the Senate. The filing of â€œclotureâ€ would commence a debate and vote.
How the left could block it:Â The only way for liberals to block consideration of the bill would be to table the bill or filibuster it.
Whatâ€™s needed to pass it:Â Now, if four Democrats defect and sign on to the idea of a full repeal of Obamacare, all of a sudden there are enough votes to pass the bill. If the supporters of H.R. 6079 can get to a simple majority of support, the only way liberals could prevent passage of the bill by a simple majority would be to engage in a filibuster of the bill. Yes, the same party that has harped on the idea of â€œfilibuster reformâ€ would be forced into a filibuster to prevent the â€œRepeal of ObamaCare Actâ€ from passing.
Under this scenario, there are two hardball tactics that can be used to repeal Obamacare. First would be to shame the filibuster-hating liberals into standing down and allowing an up-or-down vote on the bill. Nothing prevents conservatives from keeping the Senate on this bill if they have majority support until liberals relent. They have the power under the rules to file cloture over and over again until they shame liberals into allowing a majority of the Senate to pass the bill.
Another hardball tactic that could be used would be to put the language of this full repeal of Obamacare on a must-pass bill. The federal government will need to pass an appropriations measure before September 1 to fund the government this fall. A steadfast and resolute House could attach the â€œRepeal of ObamaCare Actâ€ to a continuing resolution to fund the federal government and dare the liberals in the Senate to cause a government shutdown over Obamacare.