GAO investigation: Non-existent ‘people’ able to sign up for #Obamacare coverage

Obamacare

Wowsers:

Investigators from the Government Accountability Office have been able to register fake applicants with fictitious identifying documents for health plans and federal subsidies through ObamaCare, according to a published report.

The Washington Post reports that investigators were able to obtain subsidized health coverage for eleven of twelve fictitious applicants online or over the phone. The investigators used invalid or missing Social Security numbers or inaccurate citizenship information in applying for coverage. In one of the eleven approved instances, the paper reported that the application was denied, but later approved at the second attempt.

The Post also reported that six attempts were made to sign up false applicants via in-person representatives. In five of those cases, the representative did not know that the applicant’s income was too high to receive a subsidy in the first place.

GAO officials will testify about the findings before a House Ways and Means subcommittee Wednesday. The office is expected to continue the investigation before reaching final conclusions sometime next year.

The inquiries were carried out in several different states. The Post reported that the GAO has not specified which states were investigated because the investigation is ongoing.

Republicans have claimed that the federal health insurance exchange does not properly verify the identity and eligibility of potential customers, leaving it open to fraud and abuse. The GAO investigation was requested last year by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.); Rep. Charles W. Boustany Jr. (R-La.), chairman of the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee; and Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Gee, so Republicans were right about this aspect of Obamacare, too? Hmmm. I sense a pattern developing …

DC Circuit Court of Appeals deals major blow to #Obamacare

Obamacare

Reason’s Peter Suderman has the deets:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit delivered a huge blow to Obamacare this morning, ruling that the insurance subsidies granted through the federally run health exchange, which covered 36 states for the first open enrollment period, are not allowed by the law.

The highly anticipated opinion in the case ofJacqueline Halbig v. Sylvia Mathews Burwell reversed a lower court ruling finding that federally run exchanges did have the authority to disburse subsidies.

Today’s ruling vacates the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulation allowing the federal exchanges to give subsidies. The large majority of individuals, about 86 percent, in the federal exchange system received subsidies, and in those cases the subsidies covered about 76 percent of the premium on average.

The essence of the court’s ruling is that, according to the law, those subsidies are illegal. They were always illegal, and the administration never had the authority to offer them. (According to an administration official, however, the subsidies will continue to flow throughout the appeals process.)

The court’s ruling agreed with challengers who argued that the plain language of the law, which in multiple instances limits subsidies and credits to any “Exchange established by the State,” does not allow subsidies to be disbursed in exchanges where a state declined to establish its own exchange and is instead run by the federal government. Basically, the federal government cannot step in and create and run an exchange that is somehow still an exchange established by a state.

Think this is interesting? Come to find out, a different circuit court ruled in quite a different direction on this same issue:

Update 2: A different circuit court ruled today that subsidies offered through federally run exchanges are authorized on the law. This creates a circuit court split, which increases, but does not guarantee, the chances of an eventual hearing by the Supreme Court. It is also possible, and arguably even more likely, that the circuit split will be dealt with via en banc review.

Fasten your seat belts, y’all.

Memeorandum has much more.

QOTD: Cruz encourages Reid to leave the DC Ritz-Carlton & visit the border

Senator Harry Reid

How about it, Senator Reid?

I love it:

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) responded to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) characterization of the U.S.-Mexico border as “secure” by telling his colleague to come take a look for himself.

“President Obama and Harry Reid both engage debates divorced from the facts and divorced from the reality,” Cruz said on Fox News Sunday. “Harry Reid lives in the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., and I’m sure from his perspective the border seems secure. I would invite Harry Reid to come with me down Texas and see the border.”

Make sure to view video of Senator Cruz’s comments at the Mediaite link above.

Meanwhile, reports are surfacing that Texas Gov. Rick Perry will announce today a plan to deploy 1,000 TX National Guard troops to the border:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) reportedly plans to dispatch the Texas National Guard to the U.S. border with Mexico, according to news reports.

Perry will announce his plans Monday to mobilize some 1,000 guardsmen to the Rio Grande Valley to increase security at the border, according to the Monitor, a south Texas newspaper. The newspaper quoted a state senator and an internal memo it obtained from a state official’s office.

Perry spokesman Felix Browne told The Washington Post he would neither confirm nor deny the report, but said all details will be given at a news conference at 2 p.m. Central time Monday in Austin. It was unclear what mission the guard will have.

I suspect the major TV news outlets will have coverage of Perry’s afternoon presser. Make sure to tune in to your preferred network at that time. If the reports are indeed true, please keep the troops in your thoughts and prayers. It’s not just hot and uncomfortable at the border right now. It’s dangerous.  

Will the #Obamacare employer mandate be delayed again?

Obamacare

The Hill reports that the pressure is on for the White House on whether or not to delay the employer mandate for the third time:

The White House needs to make a decision soon on whether ObamaCare’s controversial employer mandate will take effect in 2015.

With the mandate set to take effect in January, businesses are awaiting final world from the administration on whether they will be required to track and report how many of their employees are receiving coverage.

Federal officials are late in delivering the final forms and technical guidance necessary for firms to comply, raising suspicions that the mandate could once again be delayed.

The mandate has been pushed back twice before, both times in late summer.

The delays to the mandate have angered House Republicans, who are now taking President Obama to court for what they say is his refusal to follow the letter of the law.

Another delay to the mandate would be sure to create a political firestorm and draw charges that the administration is playing politics with ObamaCare ahead of the midterm elections.

But support for the mandate on the left has begun to soften in recent months, with influential figures and former Obama administration officials questioning whether it’s needed to make the law work.

Seven business lobbyists interviewed by The Hill said it is unlikely the administration will defer the employer mandate wholesale one more time, given the intense political pressure from Republicans.

But many groups are expecting partial relief to be announced prior to November, perhaps in the form of looser reporting requirements that would be easier to follow.

“I’d be shocked if they did another [full] delay … but it wouldn’t surprise me if something else came out before the election,” said one source who requested anonymity in order to speak freely.

I wouldn’t be shocked one bit, considering their past history of delaying the more controversial parts of this bill they know will hurt them more in the voting booth than any other.  But, as they say, stay tuned.

Why Obama will do nothing about the border crisis

**Posted by Phineas

"Y'all come!"

“Y’all come!”

Per Bryon York:

First, because Republicans want him to do something:

Who is pushing Obama to get tough? Mostly, it’s the Republicans whose wishes Obama has ignored for years. And now, since his well-publicized decision to abandon hopes of making a deal with GOP lawmakers on immigration, Obama needs them even less. It’s to his political benefit to oppose them, not to do their bidding.

Second, because Democrats back him:

…the Democrats, who don’t strongly oppose action on the border but want the president to go forward only if Republicans will agree to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Without a grand bargain, these Democrats are not terribly bothered by Obama’s handling of the crisis. While a few border state Democrats like Reps. Henry Cuellar and Ron Barber express reservations about Obama’s performance, most won’t give the president any trouble.

Third, because the progressive media is cheering him on:

Next is the liberal commentariat, which supports Obama so strongly in this matter that it is actually pushing back against the idea that the border crisis is a crisis at all. “The besieged border is a myth,” the New York Times editorial page declared on Sunday. “Republicans are … stoking panic about a border under assault.”

And, finally, because Obama himself is simpatico with immigration “activists:”

Finally, there are the immigration activists who don’t want Obama to do anything that involves returning the immigrants to their home countries. “We’re in the midst of a humanitarian crisis affecting kids fleeing gang violence, extortion and rape,” Frank Sharry, of the immigration group America’s Voice, said recently. It is Obama’s responsibility, Sherry added, to find a way to settle “thousands of child refugees.”

Obama recently met with a group of those advocates. One of them later told the Washington Post that the president said to them, “In another life, I’d be on the other side of the table.” By that Obama meant that in his old days as a community organizer, pressing for the “refugee” rights would be just the sort of thing he would do.

In other words, all the incentives encourage him to ignore national interests and instead be true to his nature. He doesn’t have to worry ever again about reelection, and, if the Democrats are going to take a drubbing in the midterms, anyway, why not make his Leftist base happy?

There are those who argue that Obama’s actions have to be the result of incompetence, that no one would willingly do something so obviously self-destructive to their political fortunes. See, for example, Andrew Klavan’s essay at PJM, “Is Obama just a hapless putz?”, in which he argues that Cloward-Piven is an “idiot’s strategy.”

Perhaps, but one can still be idiotic enough to try it, with all the harmful effects that would follow.

Having read extensively on Obama’s political background, especially Kurtz’s crucial work, “Radical in Chief,” I’m not at all convinced that he cares about the fortunes of the Democratic Party (let alone the nation, or, frankly, those kids on the border), that he isn’t indeed willing to take a political hit in order to achieve what he and his leftist allies hope will be irreversible change. As with Obamacare, so with immigration. Whether Obama and his administration intended for this crisis on the border to occur, they’re quite happy to take advantage of it.

From his point of view, all the incentives work that way.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Obamacare: The pesky issue that won’t go away for #NCsen’s @SenatorHagan

Hagan repeal Obamacare

Tea Party member Judy Carter pickets Sen. Kay Hagan’s local office in Greensboro against Obamacare Photo by Examiner.com’s Matt Maggio.

The Politico has a pretty good write-up this morning on what they call the “disconnect” between North Carolina voters and Obamacare – and how that is not good news for the re-election campaign of vulnerable Democrat Senator Kay Hagan:

The Tar Heel State signed up more than 357,000 people — one-third of those eligible for the new health insurance exchange. Yet President Barack Obama’s health law remains a major liability for Sen. Kay Hagan, who faces one of the toughest reelection races for any Senate Democrat this year, a true toss-up fight against North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis. He misses no chance to tie her to Obama and the Affordable Care Act, forcing her to calibrate both how to defend a law she voted for and how to distance herself from it.

The North Carolina dynamic reflects a national problem for the Obama administration in this midterm election: Despite the solid numbers — 8 million enrolled in Affordable Care Act plans, and 6.7 million signed up for Medicaid — they just can’t move the dial on political support for Obamacare.

The state had the third-highest rate of enrollment among states that decided not to set up their own exchange — only Florida and Maine came out ahead of it.

[…]

Many people who enrolled in North Carolina and elsewhere in the country report mixed feelings about their new Obamacare health plans or the costs. The individual mandate, and the threat of a penalty, drove many sign-ups. A polling report by PerryUndem, an opinion research firm that specializes in health care, found that 40 percent of people in one focus group say they might not have signed up without the mandate. But neither an unpopular mandate nor worries about the expense are a political advantage.

[…]

Hagan was not available for an interview during a reporter’s recent visit here. Her campaign spokeswoman downplayed the controversy over Obamacare, and stressed its more popular benefits.

Of course she wasn’t.  The Senator has become almost infamous for sidestepping questions about a law she once bragged about having helped craft.

To make matters worse forif you like your plan you can keep it Hagan and other red state Democrats who shoved the so-called Affordable Care Act down the throats of the American people is that coming soon – very soon – are health insurance rate hikes, set to be announced for North Carolina sometime next month, which is sure to fuel the fire over Obamacare all over again at a critical time for her campaign.  

I should note that one major issue not mentioned in the Politico piece is how close to 500,000 North Carolinians lost their health insurance plans thanks to Obamacare, far more than the number that signed up for it.  That’s a number her GOP opponent/NC House Speaker Thom Tillis will hammer home from now til November – as he should, and if you’re a resident of North Carolina who is sick of Senator Hagan’s repeated attempts at avoiding responsibility for her vote on this disastrous bill, you should remind people of it, too.

Senate Dems, including @KayHagan, set to try & “reverse” #HobbyLobby ruling

Hobby Lobby

Because religious freedom sucks and stuff – and so do the “five white guys” on the Supreme Court. Via The Hill:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) set up the first procedural vote on a bill that would reverse the recent Supreme Court ruling that allows some employers to deny birth control coverage for women.

“After five justices decided last week that an employer’s personal views can interfere with women’s access to essential health services, we in Congress need to act quickly to right this wrong,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said while introducing the bill last week.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that companies, such as Hobby Lobby, don’t have to provide their employees birth control coverage as mandated under ObamaCare. The 5-4 decision stated that the mandate violated the religious liberties of employers who don’t believe in the use of contraceptives.

Democrats have pounced on the issue ahead of the November elections in order to draw contrast between the two parties on the issue.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision opened the door to unprecedented corporate intrusion into our private lives,” said Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), a lead co-sponsor of the bill. “My common-sense proposal will keep women’s private health decisions out of corporate board rooms, because your boss shouldn’t be able to dictate what is best for you and your family.”

Senate Democrats will need at least five Republicans to join them in voting to end debate on the motion to proceed to S. 2578, but it seems unlikely they will get that support. That vote is expected Wednesday.

In other words, they know they aren’t going to get anywhere on the bill. It’s just election-year posturing designed to let perpetual (and in some cases “professional”) “feminist” victims on the left who dogmatically support the demagogues in the Democrat party know that when it comes to choosing between respect for the First Amendment versus abortion on demand, they’ll choose baby-killing every single time.

And yes, as the headline to this post suggests, North Carolinians, Senator Hagan (D) supports this bill:


Shameful. And out of touch with North Carolina voters. But not surprising.

Fearmongering Pelosi: We should “be afraid” of “five guys” on #SCOTUS

Pelosi and Assad

”We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace.” – Pelosi on Assad, April 2007. But ‘five guys’ on the Supreme Court are frightening … SMH.

Considering the depth of ignorance on display here, it’s astonishing  how high this woman has risen in power in Congress over the last couple of decades. Then again, maybe not, considering how Democrats think and operate:

Americans should live in fear of the Supreme Court, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday.

Hammering a pair of recent rulings related to birth control access, the House minority leader suggested the conservative-leaning court is stealing women’s freedoms when it comes to making healthcare choices.

“We should be afraid of this court. That five guys should start determining what contraceptions are legal or not. … It is so stunning,” Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol.

Pelosi said last week’s Supreme Court ruling that the birth control mandate under President Obama’s healthcare reform law is a violation of religious freedom was particularly egregious.

“That court decision was a frightening one,” she said. “That five men should get down to the specifics of whether a woman should use a diaphragm and she should pay for it herself or her boss. It’s not her boss’s business. His business is whatever his business is. But it’s not what contraception she uses.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again in hopes it will sink in with the clueless: By forcing your boss to pay for healthcare options that go against his or her religious conscience, you ARE putting them in the middle of your healthcare decisions.  Furthermore, you’ve told them that their religious rights should be laid at the feet of the state simply because you want something that you think shouldn’t have to pay for.  Not only that, but in the case of Hobby Lobby, it already offers – and continues to offer – healthcare coverage for sixteen types pf birth control.  It wanted nothing to do, however, with abortifacients, which was the issue at the heart of their case against the Obama administration.

But we’ve rehashed that again and again. What I want to address is the sexism, yes, outright sexism Pelosi – and other female Democrat politicos and so-called “woman’s rights activists” on the left who’ve uttered similar remarks – has blatantly exhibited here, and how this disturbing double standard has unfortunately become “acceptable” over the years because too few have dared to question it and/or call it out.  Her implication here is that if we’d just had a Supreme Court full of women, they’ve have never ruled this way.  To Pelosi, there’s no way the five (male) justices who ruled the way they did in the Hobby Lobby case could have done so for any other reason other than they hate women or, at the very least, want to see them relegated back to being barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.    Keep in mind that Pelosi has offered no legal basis for her disagreement with the high court’s decision, so we’re left to assume that not only does she believe the “five guys” are misogynists, but also that she’s in favor of women on the court ruling based on feelings rather than the law.  And here you thought, by the standards that Democrats themselves have set, that it was wrong to believe women make judgment calls based purely on their emotions.

Lastly, I want you to imagine for a second that we did have a majority female Supreme Court, and how high the level of outrage would be nationwide if anyone on the right condemned a case ruling based solely on the sex of the justices who ruled for or against it.   We’d be at Code Red on the outrage meter, and understandably so.  That we’re not when it comes to “reverse sexism” just shows how successful feminists on the left have been over the years at demonizing men and demagoguing and dumbing down the debate over women’s rights issues – and issues that go beyond women’s rights but are nevertheless hijacked by “feminists” for their own warped agendas.  That needs to change.

Pres. Obama on border crisis: I’m “not interested in photo ops”

The joke is on you, Mr. President.

The joke is on you, Mr. President.

Once again, our celebrity President opens his mouth and inserts his foot. From the Washington Post:

DALLAS — President Obama on Wednesday forcefully defended his decision not to visit the Texas border with Mexico to view a burgeoning humanitarian crisis, saying he’s “not interested in photo ops” and challenging Congress to give him new authority to respond to the situation.

“Nothing has taken place down there that I’m not intimately aware of,” Obama said during a hastily arranged news conference here, where he began a two-day visit to the state for Democratic fundraising and an economic event. “This is not theater.”

His remarks came after a meeting with Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and local leaders to discuss his administration’s response to an influx of tens of thousands of foreign children, mostly from Central America, who have entered the state illegally.

Obama, under mounting pressure from members of both parties to view the border situation firsthand, said he has been well briefed by his Cabinet aides and called on Congress to quickly approve $3.7 billion in emergency funding to help manage the influx.

“This is not theater”? He’s “not interested in photo ops”? Hmm, that’s never stopped him before:


See more Obama photo op reminders via Twitchy Team.

What he darned well knows is that visiting the border wouldn’t be a “photo op” because photo ops are designed by nature to make politicians look good, and this would have exactly the opposite effect on his image by making him look exactly like what he is: weak and ineffective – especially considering the current crisis at the border has his name written all over it. Really unbelievable the stuff this guy tries pass off as ‘fact’! These days, though, there are many even in the reliably left wing media not willing to give him a free pass anymore. Thank goodness.

Shock: Democrats ramping up election-year race-baiting tactics

Racism sign

Yep.

Not exactly a surprise, but The Hill reports this morning that Democrats are ramping up their despicable race-baiting tactics to try and emotionally manipulate one of their most crucial voting blocs during an election year because they badly need the votes:

[…] Democrats reject charges that the rhetoric is a concerted political calculation on their part as they try to retain their Senate majority and make gains in the House.

“You turn out voters by demonstrating your past performance and what you’re promising to do for a constituent in the future,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “I don’t call that race-baiting. I call that a political platform.”

 Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), the only African-American Republican in Congress and a leader in his party’s outreach to minority voters, slammed the perceived approach. 

“What alienates people is getting all of us stirred by the notion that we should be afraid of somebody else. [Democrats’] comments are designed to evoke fear from my perspective,” said Scott. “It’s unfortunate, and it should be shameful, frankly.”

[…]

Much like Democrats have highlighted their efforts to reform student loan rates to appeal to students, or their efforts to protect access to contraception to woo female voters, couching policy debates in racial terms allows the party to speak directly to another important portion of its base: minorities.

[…]

Georgia-based Democratic strategist Tharon Johnson, who worked on the 2012 Obama campaign, said Democrats — especially those in the South — needed to talk about the issues that matter to minorities and be open about the country’s inequality.

“We can never be afraid to talk about the issue of race while we still have racism in this country every single day, as far as economics, inclusion and with our justice system,” said Johnson. “Landrieu, Nunn and others have to be bold and direct when it comes to issues like public education and the justice system and economic equality that deals with race when they’re having conversations with voters. They have to be willing to talk about it.”

[…]

Democratic National Committee spokesman Mo Elleithee said the party often discusses these issues in racial terms because it’s important for Democrats to point out Republican hypocrisy.

“The problem is, the message does matter, and the agenda matters, and they have fallen even further behind with an agenda, and actions that I think continue to poke these communities that they claim they want to reach out to in the eye,” he said.

“And so, yeah, we’re gonna call them out on that.”

Don’t you love the contortions Democrats put themselves through in order to justify one of the ugliest cards they have in their deck to play?  The fact of the matter is they never stop using the race card in order to sway voters to their side, and it’s also common knowledge that they play the race card in an attempt to stifle debate from the opposition – because disagreement on this issue is so unhealthy for America, or whatever. But in election years, especially critical ones like this one where President Obama is in full-scale legacy mode, they ramp up the racial politics in the extreme because they know it’s very difficult to win unless they can convince people, especially so-called “minorities” like women and black people, that they are ‘victims’ who need ‘protection’ and ‘saving’ by Uncle Sam.

I hope I’m alive when a majority of minorities finally start rejecting this offensive claptrap in significant numbers. Once they do, the left’s blatant and deliberate demagoguery on hot button issues like race and “women’s rights” will only be viewed by most people as a desperate sideshow, while their domination of those voting blocs will finally be over to the point where, at the very least, they become competitive.  Hey, a girl can dream, right?