Did the House GOP Just Defund Cost Sharing Subsidies?
House Republicans won the 2nd round of a Court case that makes it so Congress must approve funding for cost sharing reduction subsidies. 7 million could go without cost sharing assistance. This doesn’t effect premium tax credits.
This doesn’t defund cost sharing subsidies directly, it just removes the ability of the Federal Government to refund insurers for giving breaks on cost sharing without approval by Congress. Congress must now appropriate the funds first.
- On one hand this makes sense, The Constitution says “Clause 7. No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”
- On the other hand, like with King V. Burwell, the intention of the law was obviously to ensure hardworking middle income families have access to assistance.
So it’s not that the law was misused, it is that nitpicking at the ACA, with the goal of taking away assistance from middle income families, with the intention of “Defunding ObamaCare” for political purposes, is an unfortunate battle-tactic with real consequences.
TIP: The administration will likely appeal, and there is a strong chance that middle income families will still have access to cost sharing despite this lawsuit. See the LA time’s take on this.
What Does this Mean for Cost Sharing Subsidies and ObamaCare?
Here is what that means for cost sharing subsidies and ObamaCare:
Everyone making between 100% – 250% of the poverty level will go without cost sharing subsidies unless the GOP run Congress approves funding, the funding is no longer automatic. So everyone making $11,880 – $29,700 as an individual and $24,300 – $60,750 for a family of 4 stands to loose access. See full FPL chart.
This means working families will be hit the hardest, the very middle class the GOP’s rhetoric insinuates they support.
Why is does the GOP Keep Trying to Defund Subsidies?
The GOP is using a tactic called “starving the beast”, what that means is that, instead of trying to repeal a law directly, they try to defund it and break it. Then, over time, as the pain gets to great for America, America demands the law’s repeal. It is a hardline, but viable tactic.
Trying to dismantle programs in this way is a messy process. The way the branches of government work, lawsuits must be brought to the Judicial branch via the court system. Even then, they can only rule, they can’t correct or create laws themselves.
There are a bunch of right-wing law firms and think tanks that organize these lawsuits. And that is what we mean when we say GOP-backed lawsuit.
So far GOP-backed lawsuits:
- Made it so states could opt-out of Medicaid expansion (leaving millions of sick and working poor without coverage). NFIB V. Burwell.
- Tried to gut subsidies and make it so no one had premium cost assistance. King V. Burwell.
- Tried to make it so employers could override their employee’s right to contraception. This happened in a number of different cases, including the Hobby Lobby case.
- Tried to repeal the law about 60 times and replace it with tax cuts for big businesses (instead of spending cuts or a better healthcare plan).
Paul Ryan might be a “real conservative”, and there might be some great ideology on the right, but in practice they act like they just let the far-right (who overtook their party going into the Eisenhower years, and the rest that routed from the Democrats in 1964) overrun their party. They have become the party of obstruction, and obstruction is a nice word for crony capitalists who seek to destroy legislation that helps the working poor and middle class without replacing it in a meaningful way.
Going after assistance wasn’t the only way to starve the beast of the ACA, but they picked the low hanging fruit and may spill some blood in the process.
What looks like a victory today, will likely be remembered for little more than the suffering it causes those very constituents the GOP claims to help (they already have the expansion-less sick and tired on their back).
It’s no wonder we are seeing a GOP-brand Donald Trump, it is called Karma, or “sleeping in the bed you made”. If Bernie and Hillary fans can come together to take the Presidency, House, and Senate, the GOP will have no one to blame but themselves.
If you are going to break something, how about not “cost sharing assistance for millions of hardworking Americans”. How about addressing the family glitch, or corruption in Congress, you know, where conservative values are actually needed… or just, “what Lincoln or Eisenhower would have done”.
There used to be something called a Civil Service Republican. Today we call those people Democrats, as the platforms of the parties switched over time. One can’t argue with underlying, and traditionally Democratic, concepts like an appreciation for state’s rights, the Constitution, and the role of Congress. However, one can argue with using those making 100%-250% of the poverty level as a bargaining chip in a battle over federal spending. The same goes for prior lawsuits on tax credits and Medicaid expansion. Wanting small government is different than defunding people’s health insurance funding to take down already established government.
Anyway, that is my take. Comment with your take below.
House Speaker Paul Ryan called the ruling “a historic win for the Constitution and the American people. The court ruled that the administration overreached by spending taxpayer money without approval from the people’s representatives.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration remained confident it will prevail in the end.