Morning Bell: How Obamacare Discourages Work and Marriage

We were told that Obamacare was supposed to be compassionate toward the needy in America.

While President Obama and his fellow liberals may have held the best of intentions while ramming Obamacare through Congress, the law’s policies are far from compassionate toward the uninsured and Americans with low and modest incomes.

In fact, the law perpetuates some of the country’s worst trends that trap people in poverty. It includes disincentives for individuals to marry and for Americans of low and modest incomes to work. Discouraging work and marriage will only perpetuate poverty and income inequality, not alleviate them.

Discouraging Work

The way Obamacare calculates federal premium subsidies and cost-sharing subsidies includes several “cliffs.” A person might qualify for a hefty subsidy at his current income, but if he gets a raise and makes a little more, that Obamacare subsidy disappears.

At these cliffs, individuals and families will actually benefit more by working less because additional earnings could cause them to lose thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies.

Families facing these kinds of poverty traps may ask the obvious question: If I will lose so much in government benefits by earning additional income, why work?

Rather than encouraging hard work, initiative, and entrepreneurship, Obamacare instead undermines these essential American values.

Discouraging Marriage

Obamacare contains not one, but two penalties on marriage—one for families with low and moderate incomes and another for families with higher incomes. By continuing failed policies that undermine the institution of marriage, Obamacare will accelerate a root cause of income inequality in the United States.

Here’s an example. A 50-year-old non-smoker making $35,000 per year would qualify for a sizable insurance subsidy, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s insurance subsidy calculator. The individual’s premium would be capped at 9.5 percent of income, resulting in an insurance subsidy of $2,065 paid by the federal government.

However, if this 50-year-old is married to another 50-year-old who also makes $35,000 per year, the couple would receive no insurance subsidy at all. This couple would incur a marriage penalty of $4,130 in one year—equal to the $2,065 that each individual could have received if they were not married.

As Urban Institute fellow Gene Steuerle has said: “Our tax and welfare system thus favors those who consider marriage an option—to be avoided when there are penalties and engaged when there are bonuses. The losers tend to be those who consider marriage to be sacred.”

Obamacare sends a clear message that reliance on government is preferable to these traditional American values—work and marriage.

Our health care policy should not be undermining these foundations of society. For a more commonsense approach to health care reform, check this out.

This post was originally published at The Daily Signal.

How Obamacare Undermines American Values: Penalizing Work, Marriage, Citizenship, and the Disabled

A PDF of this Backgrounder is available on the Heritage Foundation website.

”We are a compassionate nation,” President Barack Obama recently stated in his weekly radio address, talking about the health care law—implying that critics of Obamacare are not.[1] Nothing could be further from the truth. Obamacare itself is an uncompassionate law.

While President Obama and his fellow liberals may have held the best of intentions while ramming Obamacare through Congress, the law’s policies are far from compassionate toward the uninsured and Americans with low and modest incomes. Obamacare discourages work, penalizes marriage, places citizens at a disadvantage compared with non-citizens, and prioritizes coverage for able-bodied adults over services and supports for the disabled.

To restore the values of hard work that Americans have held dear for centuries, Congress should repeal all of Obamacare. Further, Congress should reexamine other tax and welfare policies with an eye toward encouraging work and marriage.

Obamacare Creates Inequities

Many of Obamacare’s flaws are well known.[2] According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the law will spend nearly $1.8 trillion over the next 10 years on new insurance subsidies and an expanded Medicaid program.[3] However, inherent design flaws in that subsidy regime will create winners and losers in a way that penalizes both work and marriage and that prioritizes the able-bodied over the disabled and citizens over non-citizens.

Rather than “spreading the wealth around” as then-Senator Obama famously discussed during his 2008 campaign, Obamacare will actually concentrate wealth.[4] By penalizing work, the law fundamentally acts as a brake on low-income and middle-income families’ desire to prosper. Instead of improving their prospects to succeed, Obamacare focuses solely on making their current status less bleak. The American people deserve better than Obamacare’s dystopian vision.

Inequity #1: Discouraging Work

Many of the inequities present in Obamacare stem from Section 1401 of the law, which establishes eligibility for subsidized insurance in government-run exchanges.[5] Obamacare’s formulae for allocating federal premium and cost-sharing subsidies include several “cliffs.” At these cliffs, individuals and families will actually benefit more by working less because additional earnings could cause them to lose thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies.

For example, Obamacare subsidizes insurance premiums for individuals with incomes of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), which is just over $62,000 for a couple in 2013.[6] According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s subsidy calculator, a married couple, each 50 years old, making a combined $60,000 per year would receive a taxpayer-funded insurance subsidy of up to $5,081.[7] The couple would qualify for this subsidy because their combined income would be just below 400 percent of the FPL. However, if the couple earned an additional $2,500—raising their income just above 400 percent of the FPL—they would receive no subsidy at all. Even though they receive $2,500 more in cash compensation, the couple would actually be worse off financially because they would lose more than $5,000 in federal insurance subsidies.

Similar cliffs occur elsewhere in Obamacare’s subsidy structure. As income approaches 400 percent of the FPL, the percentage of income that households are expected to devote to insurance premiums rises, and the premium subsidies under Section 1401 fall. Individuals with rising income also face the loss of federal cost-sharing subsidies established under Section 1402 of the law, which reduce out-of-pocket expenses including co-payments and deductibles. These effects are particularly acute at certain cliffs established in the statute—for instance, 150 percent, 200 percent, and 250 percent of the FPL—but they also pervade the entire subsidy structure. Overall, University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan has concluded that Obamacare will help raise effective marginal tax rates by more than 10 percentage points.[8]

The subsidy formulae in Obamacare and the disincentives to work compound an existing system of tax credits and welfare programs that places families of low and modest incomes in a “poverty trap.” Testifying before two subcommittees of the House Ways and Means Committee in June 2012, Urban Institute fellow Gene Steuerle explained how the phaseouts of various income-linked programs—such as food stamps, housing assistance, and cash welfare benefits under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program—create very high effective marginal tax rates. His testimony cited an example of a single-parent, two-child household in Alabama and the effects of work on their net financial compensation:

With no work at all this family generates $14,000 in benefits. If it earns poverty level income of about $17,000, its total income would rise to about $26,700, or close to $13,000…. However, if the family earns about twice the poverty level, or an additional $17,000, income would rise by only about $6,900—an effective average marginal tax rate of about 60 percent, to which must be added any loss of health insurance benefits.[9]

Families facing these kinds of poverty traps may ask the obvious question: If I will lose so much in government benefits by earning additional income, why work?

Obamacare will only worsen the poverty trap created by existing programs. By expanding exchange insurance subsidies to those making up to 400 percent of the FPL, the law effectively raises marginal tax rates for a wide swathe of Americans. The law gives millions of Americans new incentives not to work—or not to raise their income levels—because they may lose federal insurance subsidies. According to the most recent Census data, nearly 64 percent of the non-elderly population lives in households below 400 percent of the FPL. These individuals could face the work disincentives created by Obamacare’s new insurance subsidy structure.[10]

The Congressional Budget Office agrees that Obamacare will reduce work incentives by raising marginal tax rates. In a report released shortly after the law’s enactment, the nonpartisan CBO concluded that Obamacare “on net will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy … primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply.” The CBO found that the Medicaid expansion and exchange insurance subsidies “will encourage some people to work fewer hours or to withdraw from the labor market” to remain eligible for taxpayer-funded insurance subsidies. Furthermore, “the phaseout of the [insurance] subsidies as income rises will effectively increase marginal tax rates, which will also discourage work.”[11] CBO Director Doug Elmendorf testified before Congress that Obamacare would reduce the labor supply by about 800,000 workers.[12]

At a time when 5.7 million fewer Americans are looking for work than when the recent economic recession began in December 2007, Obamacare will reduce the size of the labor force even further.[13] The law’s subsidy formula leads to perverse outcomes: “[A]s an individual makes more money, they are rewarded by losing subsidies.”[14] Rather than encouraging hard work, initiative, and entrepreneurship, Obamacare instead undermines these essential American values.

Inequity #2: Penalizing Marriage

Obamacare contains not one, but two penalties on marriage—one for families with low and moderate incomes and another for families with higher incomes. The first is in its eligibility definitions for insurance subsidies in Section 1401,[15] which sets eligibility based on federal poverty level guidelines. However, because the FPL for a couple is less than twice that for a single person, a married household will remain at an inherent disadvantage compared with two single individuals or an unmarried, cohabiting couple.[16]

A hypothetical example illustrates the nature and scope of the marriage penalties in Obamacare.[17] A 50-year-old non-smoker making $35,000 per year would qualify for a sizable insurance subsidy, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s insurance subsidy calculator.[18] The individual’s premium would be capped at 9.5 percent of income, resulting in an insurance subsidy of $2,065 paid by the federal government. However, if this 50-year-old is married to another 50-year-old who also makes $35,000 per year, the couple would receive no insurance subsidy at all. This couple would incur a marriage penalty of $4,130 in one year—equal to the $2,065 that each individual could have received if they were not married.

Obamacare imposes a second marriage penalty that is related to its “high-income” tax. The law creates a new 0.9 percent tax on wage income and 3.8 percent tax on unearned income that exceeds preset thresholds.[19] In both cases, the thresholds for the tax are at $200,000 for a single individual, but $250,000 for a couple. As with the insurance subsidy formula, this new tax will automatically penalize married couples because the tax threshold for couples is less than twice the threshold for single individuals.

As with these subsidy calculations, the marriage penalties from the high-income tax could also be substantial. Two individuals who are each earning wage incomes of $195,000 would fall under the $200,000 threshold for single filers and would therefore not incur any additional liability under Obamacare. However, if these two individuals married, their combined income of $390,000 would easily exceed the $250,000 threshold, triggering the high-income tax. This couple would owe an additional $1,260 in taxes.[20] The marriage penalty on this couple would be even higher if some of their income was unearned because Obamacare taxes unearned income above the $250,000 threshold at a 3.8 percent rate.

Because the high-income tax is not indexed for inflation, more and more couples will pay this marriage penalty in the coming years. The Medicare actuary has estimated that, while this tax increase will affect only 3 percent of workers this year, it will affect 79 percent by 2080.[21] As more and more middle-income Americans face this high-income tax over time, the Obamacare provisions will disproportionately affect married couples due to its structural penalty against marriage.

As with the work disincentives noted above, Obamacare’s penalties only exacerbate a policy environment that already discourages middle-income couples from marriage. As Steuerle testified:

Means testing and joint filing has resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars in marriage penalties for low- and middle-income households. Essentially, when moderate-income couples marry, their marginal tax rate moves up from, say, 25 percent, to the 50 and 80 percent ranges shown above….

Not getting married is the major tax shelter for low- and moderate-income households with children. In many low-income communities around the nation, marriage is now the exception rather than the rule.

Marriage penalties or subsidies are assessed primarily for taking wedding vows, not for living together with another adult. Those who do not feel morally compelled to swear fidelity in religious or public ceremonies for the most part do not suffer the penalties. Our tax and welfare system thus favors those who consider marriage an option—to be avoided when there are penalties and engaged when there are bonuses. The losers tend to be those who consider marriage to be sacred.[22]

While advocates of the law claim its compassion toward those with limited incomes, Obamacare, like much of the existing welfare state, undermines marriage as an institution by penalizing “those who consider marriage to be sacred” and creating a culture in which “marriage is now the exception rather than the rule.”

Even though policy choices like those in Obamacare discourage low-income and middle-income households from participating in the institution, marriage still provides the most stable venue for raising children. Studies have shown that cohabiting couples with children break up with greater frequency than married couples with children.[23] In a front-page article in July 2012, The New York Times noted that marriage trends—sparked in part by existing government policy—have exacerbated income inequality:

Estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns—as opposed to changes in individual earnings—may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality. Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes. “It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University….

While many children of single mothers flourish … a large body of research shows that they are more likely than similar children with married parents to experience childhood poverty, act up in class, become teenage parents and drop out of school. Sara McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist, warns that family structure increasingly consigns children to “diverging destinies.” Married couples are having children later than they used to, divorcing less and investing heavily in parenting time. By contrast, a growing share of single mothers have never married, and many have children with more than one man. “The people with more education tend to have stable family structures with committed, involved fathers,” Ms. McLanahan said. “The people with less education are more likely to have complex, unstable situations involving men who come and go.” She said, “I think this process is creating greater gaps in these children’s life chances.”[24]

In a recent interview with ABC News touching on income inequality, President Obama claimed that “I think the President can stop it,” but that “you’ve got a portion of Congress who—whose policies don’t just, you know, leave things alone, they actually want to accelerate these trends.”[25]

The President could not be more incorrect. By continuing failed policies that undermine the institution of marriage, Obamacare will accelerate a root cause of income inequality in the United States.[26] Policymakers seeking to restore the institution of marriage and reduce income inequality in the process should work to eliminate the tax and welfare policies that penalize low-income and middle-income households who marry.[27] A great place to start would be to repeal Obamacare because its marriage penalties will exacerbate income inequality.

Inequity #3: Placing Citizens at a Disadvantage

Obamacare includes special provisions that allow many legal, non-citizen residents to qualify for federally subsidized insurance and, in so doing, offers these non-citizens more and better coverage options than American citizens. Section 1401, which creates Section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code, includes a “Special Rule for Certain Individuals Lawfully Present in the United States.”[28] The rule states that lawfully present aliens with incomes under the federal poverty line who are “not eligible for the Medicaid program under Title XIX of the Social Security Act by reason of such alien status” shall be treated as if they had incomes above the federal poverty level, thus entitling them to federal insurance subsidies.

This special rule effectively circumvents the restrictions imposed by Congress in its landmark 1996 welfare reform legislation. In enacting welfare reform, Congress intended to prevent individuals from migrating into the United States and becoming public charges. Section 403 of the welfare reform bill included provisions prohibiting most legal aliens from receiving means-tested benefits, including most Medicaid benefits, for a five-year period.[29] Obamacare did not explicitly override this five-year waiting period for legal aliens receiving taxpayer-funded benefits. Instead, Obamacare circumvented the prior law by creating a new entitlement—federal insurance subsidies in the new exchanges—with language ensuring legal aliens would qualify for this new program while in the five-year waiting period.

While legal residents who are not citizens will receive federal insurance subsidies under Obamacare, American citizens of modest means will qualify for Medicaid or may not receive health insurance at all. In states that expand their Medicaid programs, all citizens with incomes below 138 percent of the FPL who qualify for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled in the Medicaid program.[30] In states that do not expand their Medicaid programs, citizens with incomes above 100 percent of the FPL will receive subsidies to purchase insurance coverage on the exchange, but citizens with incomes below 100 percent of the FPL may not qualify for subsidized insurance at all.[31]

The law as implemented thus creates two inequities that place citizens at a disadvantage compared with legal aliens. First, in states that expand their Medicaid programs, citizens with incomes under 138 percent FPL will be automatically enrolled into Medicaid, while legal aliens will receive subsidies to purchase coverage in the exchange.[32] In addition to denying citizens the option of the exchange granted to similarly situated legal aliens, this inequity also consigns an entire class of American citizens to a Medicaid program plagued by low physician reimbursement levels with a resulting history of poor health outcomes. Several studies show that patients with Medicaid coverage have worse outcomes than the uninsured,[33] and some Medicaid beneficiaries do not consider the program “real insurance.”[34] Yet Obamacare dumps millions of American citizens into this troubled program, even as it grants many legal aliens the opportunity to pick health plans of their choosing.

Second, in states that do not expand their Medicaid programs, legal aliens will be able to purchase subsidized health insurance on exchanges, while citizens below 100 percent of the poverty line may not qualify for subsidized coverage at all. The Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare found that the law’s Medicaid expansion, which required states to expand Medicaid or lose all their existing Medicaid funds, consisted of unconstitutional “economic dragooning” and made the expansion optional.[35] The law as written did not envision such a scenario, assuming that all individuals below 100 percent of the FPL would be placed in the Medicaid program. The one exception was the “special rule” for legal aliens, thus allowing legal aliens, but no other individuals, below 100 percent of the FPL to receive insurance subsidies.

The solution to this problem is not for states to accept Obamacare’s massive Medicaid expansion. Expanding Medicaid would impose additional costs in the short term[36] and even larger costs in the long term.[37] Moreover, expanding Medicaid would consign millions of Americans to a flawed health program. Instead, the solution lies in repealing the special rule that offers non-citizens more and better coverage options than American citizens, potentially encouraging immigration to the United States by those seeking recourse to taxpayer-funded welfare programs.

Inequity #4: Prioritizing the Able-Bodied over the Disabled

Obamacare encourages states to expand their Medicaid programs to all individuals with incomes below 138 percent FPL by offering an enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) covering the new expansion populations. The law provides for a 100 percent federal match for 2014 through 2016, phasing down over time to a 90 percent match by 2020.[38]

The Medicaid expansion will not be cost free to states. Implementing the expansion will cost an estimated $12 billion in administrative costs,[39] and state costs will rise as the federal matching percentage falls after 2016.[40] However, the enhanced Medicaid match under Obamacare is significantly higher than the traditional FMAP rates covering the rest of the Medicaid program. Under existing law, FMAP rates for state Medicaid programs covering the aged, blind, and disabled populations can range from 50 percent to 83 percent.[41] For fiscal year 2014, FMAP rates will range from 50 percent in 15 states to 73 percent in Mississippi.[42]

Studies suggest that the vast majority of individuals to be covered under the enhanced Medicaid match are able-bodied adults. According to the Urban Institute, if all states expand Medicaid, over four in five uninsured adults eligible for coverage (82.4 percent) would be those without dependent children.[43] Because many states already provide Medicaid coverage for parents with children, the number of additional parents eligible for coverage under the Obamacare expansion would be comparatively small.[44] Moreover, of those adults eligible for Medicaid if all states expand Medicare, more than half (52.1 percent) would be ages 19–34, and more than five in six (86.6 percent) would be ages 19–54, which are the prime working years for most Americans.[45]

Because most of the individuals gaining eligibility for Medicaid under the Obamacare expansion would be able-bodied adults of prime working age, these individuals should be able to work and therefore would likely earn enough income not to qualify for Medicaid coverage. An able-bodied adult, working full time (40 hours per week for 50 weeks per year) at a job paying $8 per hour would earn $16,000 annually, placing that individual above the 138 percent FPL cutoff for Medicaid eligibility. This hypothetical example strongly suggests that the able-bodied adults gaining Medicaid coverage under Obamacare are either unemployed or underemployed. It also suggests that Obamacare will exacerbate the existing poverty trap by providing benefits to adults able to work, but not currently employed.[46]

Even as the federal government provides an enhanced federal match for state Medicaid programs to cover able-bodied adults, many more vulnerable individuals cannot obtain coverage from Medicaid. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 511,174 individuals are currently on waiting lists in 37 states for access to home and community-based services under Medicaid waiver programs.[47] Of these individuals, more than 316,000 seek Medicaid services due to intellectual or developmental disabilities.[48] Yet in creating an enhanced federal match for states to participate in Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, Congress created a very clear signal that covering able-bodied adults constitutes a greater priority than covering the aged, blind, and disabled populations that Medicaid currently covers.

A public safety net is necessary for those truly in need. However, by spending more than $700 billion on its massive Medicaid expansion,[49] Obamacare places a greater emphasis on covering able-bodied adults than the disabled populations that Medicaid was originally intended to serve. By extending health coverage to those who should be able to work, Obamacare could jeopardize the coverage of disabled populations. Moreover, by subsidizing health coverage for millions of unemployed and underemployed, Obamacare could accelerate the development of a permanent underclass who chooses not to work because there is little financial incentive to work.

What Congress Should Do

Rather than perpetuating a law that includes perverse incentives that discourage work, policymakers should focus on reforming America’s tax and welfare system to encourage initiative and hard work. To that end, Congress should:

 

  • Repeal all of Obamacare. The penalties and disincentives that the law places on Americans are compelling reasons for Congress to repeal this harmful and misguided legislation.
  • Expand work requirements for able-bodied adults. Even after the repeal of Obamacare’s new entitlements, policymakers should examine and bolster work requirements for other welfare benefits to preserve incentives for the able-bodied to work or prepare for work.[50]
  • Reaffirm the importance of marriage. While Congress reduced the marriage penalties in the tax code in the past decade, policymakers should examine and revise policies in the tax code and elsewhere to promote committed marital relationships.[51]
  • Maintain waiting periods before legal residents can access welfare benefits. Obamacare undermines one basic premise of the 1996 welfare reform: A legal immigrant should not become a public charge immediately upon arrival in the United States. Particularly given record federal deficits, Congress should restore this principle as a way to curb soaring entitlement spending.
  • Restore Medicaid’s focus on the neediest citizens. Given its poor outcomes for patients,[52] Medicaid needs significant changes. However, true reform cannot come from adding able-bodied adults to an already overburdened program. Instead, Congress should focus on improving Medicaid’s quality of care, while restoring its emphasis on providing a safety net for the truly needy.[53]

 

Conclusion

The subsidy formulae and minutiae underpinning Obamacare represent a complex set of choices enacted by Congress more than three years ago. Each of these policy choices is antithetical to traditional American values: the spirit of entrepreneurship and work, the marital bonds that have served as the touchstone of strong families for generations, the spirit of self-reliance that led immigrants to come to these shores to contribute to American society, and a safety net focused on protecting those in greatest need.

Collectively, these policy choices send a clear signal that reliance on government supersedes these traditional American values. While liberals argue that Obamacare is a compassionate law, the facts suggest the exact opposite. The law is not compassionate because it further entrenches a superstructure that penalizes work and encourages dependence for a wide swathe of Americans.

In calling for Obamacare’s repeal, opponents have pointed out the law’s economic impacts, its new bureaucracy, and its negative impacts on the American health care system. But conservatives should also make a values-based case against Obamacare. The American people deserve better than a law rooted in the notion that some individuals cannot improve their station in life and therefore should not be encouraged to work or advance their condition.

 



[1] Barack Obama, “Congress Must Act Now to Pass a Budget and Raise the Debt Ceiling,” The White House, September 21, 2013, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/09/21/weekly-address-congress-must-act-now-pass-budget-and-raise-debt-ceiling (accessed October 21, 2013).

[2] The Heritage Foundation, “The Case Against Obamacare: Health Care Policy Series for the 112th Congress,” http://www.heritage.org/research/projects/the-case-against-obamacare.

[3] Congressional Budget Office, “Effects on Health Insurance and the Federal Budget for the Insurance Coverage Provisions in the Affordable Care Act—May 2013 Baseline,” May 14, 2013, p. 2, Table 2, https://www.cbo.gov/publication/44190 (accessed October 21, 2013).

[4] Fox News, “Obama—Spread the Wealth Around,” video file, PopModal, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoqI5PSRcXM (accessed October 21, 2013).

[5] Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Public Law 111–148, § 1401, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (HCERA), Public Law 111–152, http://housedocs.house.gov/energycommerce/ppacacon.pdf (accessed October 21, 2013).

[6] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, “2013 Poverty Guidelines,” January 24, 2013, http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/13poverty.cfm (accessed October 21, 2013).

[7] Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, “Subsidy Calculator,” http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/ (accessed October 22, 2013). All figures are in 2014 dollars.

[8] Casey Mulligan, “How Obamacare Wrecks the Work Ethic,” The Wall Street Journal, October 3, 2013, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323623304579061423122639430 (accessed October 27, 2013).

[9] Gene Steuerle, “Marginal Tax Rates, Work, and the Nation’s Real Tax System,” testimony before the Subcommittee on Human Resources and Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives, June 27, 2012, http://waysandmeans.house.gov/UploadedFiles/Eugene_Steuerle_Testimony_HR-SRM_062712.pdf (accessed October 21, 2013).

[10] Of the non-elderly population of 267.4 million, 170.5 million live in households with incomes under 400 percent of poverty. U.S. Census Bureau, “Annual Social and Economic Supplement: 2012 Poverty Table of Contents,” September 2013, Table POV01, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032013/pov/pov01_400_1.xls (accessed October 21, 2013).

[11] Congressional Budget Office, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update,” August 2010, p. 48, Box 2-1, and p. 66, http://cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/117xx/doc11705/08-18-update.pdf (accessed October 21, 2013).

[12] J. Lester Feder and Kate Nocera, “CBO: Health Law to Shrink Workforce by 800,000,” Politico, February 10, 2011, http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49273.html (accessed October 21, 2013).

[13] James Sherk, “Not Looking for Work: Why Labor Force Participation Has Fallen During the Recession,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2722, September 5, 2013, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/09/not-looking-for-work-why-labor-force-participation-has-fallen-during-the-recession.

[14] Drew Gonshoworski, “The Affordable Care Act Negatively Impacts the Supply of Labor,” Heritage Foundation Issue Brief No. 3873, March 11, 2013, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/03/impact-of-the-patient-protection-and-affordable-care-act-on-labor-supply.

[15] PPACA, § 1401.

[16] In 2013, the federal poverty level for the continental United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) is $11,490 for a single person and $15,510 for a two-person household. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services updates the guidelines annually. See U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “2013 Poverty Guidelines.”

[17] For similar analyses from an earlier version of Obamacare, see Robert Rector, “The New Federal Wedding Tax: How Obamacare Would Dramatically Penalize Marriage,” Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 2767, January 20, 2010, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/01/the-new-federal-wedding-tax-how-obamacare-would-dramatically-penalize-marriage.

[18] Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, “Subsidy Calculator.” All figures are in 2014 dollars.

[19] Section 9015 of the PPACA established the 0.9 percent tax on wage income, and Section 1402 of HCERA established the 3.8 percent tax on unearned income.

[20] ($390,000 – $250,000) * 0.9 percent = $1,260.

[21] Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2010 Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplemental Medical Insurance Trust Funds, August 5, 2010, p. 87, http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/ReportsTrustFunds/Downloads/TR2010.pdf (accessed October 21, 2013).

[22] Steuerle, “Marginal Tax Rates, Work, and the Real Tax System.”

[23] Chuck Donovan, “A Marshall Plan for Marriage: Rebuilding Our Shattered Homes,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2567, June 7, 2011, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/06/a-marshall-plan-for-marriage-rebuilding-our-shattered-homes (accessed October 21, 2013).

[24] Jason DeParle, “Two Classes in America, Divided by ‘I Do,’” The New York Times, July 15, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/us/two-classes-in-america-divided-by-i-do.html (accessed October 21, 2013).

[25] ABC News, “Transcript: President Barack Obama,” This Week, September 15, 2013, http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/week-transcript-president-barack-obama/story?id=20253577 (accessed October 21, 2013).

[26] For more on the link between marriage and poverty, see Robert Rector, “Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty,” Heritage Foundation Special Report No. 117, September 5, 2012, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/09/marriage-americas-greatest-weapon-against-child-poverty.

[27] Donovan, “A Marshall Plan for Marriage.”

[28] 26 U.S. Code § 36B(c)(1)(B). This specific provision was created by PPACA, § 1401.

[29] Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, Public Law 104–193, § 403.

[30] Section 2001(a)(1)(C) of PPACA established the Medicaid eligibility threshold at 133 percent of poverty; however, Section 1004(e)(2) of HCERA amended this requirement by adding an automatic 5 percent income disregard, effectively establishing an eligibility threshold of 138 percent of poverty.

[31] 26 U.S. Code § 36B (c)(1)(A), as amended by PPACA, § 1401.

[32] Robert E. Moffit and Edmund F. Haislmaier, “Obamacare’s Insurance Exchanges: ‘Private Coverage’ in Name Only,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2846, September 26, 2013, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/09/obamacares-insurance-exchanges-private-coverage-in-name-only.

[33] Many of these studies are summarized in Scott Gottlieb, “Medicaid Is Worse Than No Coverage at All,” The Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704758904576188280858303612.html (accessed October 21, 2013).

[34] Vanessa Fuhrmans, “Note to Medicaid Patients: The Doctor Won’t See You,” The Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2007, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118480165648770935.html (accessed October 21, 2013).

[35] NFIB v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 52 (2012), http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-393c3a2.pdf (accessed October 21, 2013).

[36] Edmund F. Haislmaier and Brian Blase, “Obamacare: Impact on States,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2433, July 1, 2010, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/07/obamacare-impact-on-states.

[37] Drew Gonshorowski, “Obamacare and the Medicaid Expansion: How Does Your State Fare?” March 5, 2013, http://blog.heritage.org/2013/03/05/obamacare-medicaid-expansion-state-by-state-charts/ (accessed October 21, 2013).

[38] PPACA, § 2001(a)(3), as amended by HCERA, § 1201(1)(B).

[39] Haislmaier and Blase, “Obamacare.”

[40] Gonshorowski, “Obamacare and the Medicaid Expansion.”

[41] 42 U.S. Code § 1396d(b).

[42] Federal Register, November 30, 2012, p. 71422, Table 1, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-11-30/pdf/2012-29035.pdf (accessed October 21, 2013).

[43] Genevieve M. Kenney et al., “Opting in to the Medicaid Expansion Under the ACA: Who Are the Uninsured Adults Who Could Gain Health Insurance Coverage?” Urban Institute, August 2012, p. 9, Appendix Table 2, http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/412630-opting-in-medicaid.pdf (accessed October 21, 2013).

[44] Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, “Adult Income Eligibility Limits at Application as a Percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL),” January 2013, http://kff.org/medicaid/state-indicator/income-eligibility-low-income-adults/ (accessed October 21, 2013).

[45] Kenney et al., “Opting in to the Medicaid Expansion Under the ACA,” Appendix Table 1, p. 8.

[46] Edmund F. Haislmaier, “New Medicaid Welfare Trap,” The Heritage Foundation, May 29, 2013, http://www.heritage.org/research/commentary/2013/5/new-medicaid-welfare-trap. First published in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

[47] Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, “Waiting Lists for Medicaid Section 1915(c) Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waivers,” December 2012, http://kff.org/medicaid/state-indicator/waiting-lists-for-hcbs-waivers-2010/#table (accessed October 21, 2013).

[48] Ibid.

[49] Congressional Budget Office, “Effects on Health Insurance and the Federal Budget,” Table 2.

[50] For instance, see Robert Rector and Jennifer A. Marshall, “The Unfinished Work of Welfare Reform,” January 22, 2013, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/01/the-unfinished-work-of-welfare-reform (accessed October 21, 2013).

[51] Rector, “Marriage.”

[52] Kevin Dayaratna, “Studies Show: Medicaid Patients Have Worse Access and Outcomes Than the Privately Insured,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2740, November 7, 2012, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/11/studies-show-medicaid-patients-have-worse-access-and-outcomes-than-the-privately-insured.

[53] Nina Owcharenko, “Saving the American Dream: A Blueprint for Putting Patients First,” Heritage Foundation Issue Brief No. 3628, June 6, 2012, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/06/saving-the-american-dream-a-blueprint-for-putting-patients-first.

How Obamacare WORSENS Poverty, Part II

Earlier today, we analyzed and summarized some of the points made in testimony before a Ways and Means subcommittee hearing by the Urban Institute’s Gene Steuerle — namely, that current welfare policies impose a “poverty trap” on low and middle-income families, a trap that Obamacare will both extend and worsen.  But another point worth highlighting in Steuerle’s testimony is the way in which current welfare policy discourages — and actually penalizes — marriage among working-class families:

Essentially, when moderate-income couples marry, their marginal tax rate moves up from, say, 25 percent, to the 50 and 80 percent ranges shown above.  For instance, a moderate income male marrying a working mother with children can easily cause her to lose EITC, SNAP, Medicaid, and other benefits as well….Someone looking at our system from Mars would conclude that we don’t want moderate income families with children to marry, since we penalize them, but we do want older households (at ages when children are likely to be gone) to marry, since we subsidize them….

Marriage penalties or subsidies are assessed primarily for taking wedding vows, not for living together with another adult.  Those who do not feel morally compelled to swear fidelity in religious or public ceremonies for the most part do not suffer the penalties.  Our tax and welfare system thus favors those who consider marriage an option — to be avoided when there are penalties and engaged when there are bonuses.  The losers tend to be those who consider marriage vows to be sacred.

Yesterday’s New York Times included a very compelling article, entitled “Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do,’” that speaks to this very point.  The article examines two families in Michigan — one headed by a single parent struggling to make ends meet, the other headed by a married couple able to live a more affluent lifestyle on two incomes.  The article notes that among higher-income households, marriage tends to perpetuate affluence, whereas in lower-income families, the lack of marriage can exacerbate poverty:

Estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality.  Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes.  “It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University.

About 41 percent of births in the United States occur outside marriage, up sharply from 17 percent three decades ago.  But equally sharp are the educational divides, according to an analysis by Child Trends, a Washington research group.  Less than 10 percent of the births to college-educated women occur outside marriage, while for women with high school degrees or less the figure is nearly 60 percent….While many children of single mothers flourish (two of the last three presidents had mothers who were single during part of their childhood), a large body of research shows that they are more likely than similar children with married parents to experience childhood poverty, act up in class, become teenage parents and drop out of school.

Sara McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist, warns that family structure increasingly consigns children to “diverging destinies.”  Married couples are having children later than they used to, divorcing less and investing heavily in parenting time.  By contrast, a growing share of single mothers have never married, and many have children with more than one man.  “The people with more education tend to have stable family structures with committed, involved fathers,” Ms. McLanahan said.  “The people with less education are more likely to have complex, unstable situations involving men who come and go.”

She said, “I think this process is creating greater gaps in these children’s life chances.”

At a time when our current welfare policy penalizes marriage — and when a growing trend of sociological studies show that marriage patterns among lower-income families are exacerbating poverty and inequality — what does Obamacare do?  It imposes yet another marriage penalty on low and middle-income households: “Two individuals who make between $61,600 and $91,200 in 2014 will not benefit from [health insurance subsidies] if they decide to marry, but both individuals can qualify for the tax credit if they remain unmarried or if they decide to divorce.”

As yesterday’s New York Times article demonstrated using real-life examples, marriage and stable two-parent households can mean the difference between relative comfort and the struggles of poverty.  Yet current government policy discourages marriage — and Obamacare makes these bad policies worse.  It’s one more reason why the law will actually harm those it intends to help, by perpetuating the cycle of poverty and dependence in America.

46 Reasons to Repeal an Unconstitutional Law NOW

46 50 Reasons to Repeal ALL of Obamacare NOW

Today the Supreme Court struck down portions of Obamacare as unconstitutional – states cannot be “dragooned” into expanding their Medicaid programs according to the law’s dictates. However, a list of 50 particularly onerous or egregious provisions in Obamacare (with sections from the statute duly noted) reveals just how much of this bad law remains. By the most generous interpretation, the Court struck down only four of the 50 egregious policies, illustrating why Congress should immediately repeal the entire measure once and for all. Among many other bad policies, the law:

  1. Imposes $800 billion in tax increases, including no fewer than 12 separate provisions breaking candidate Obama’s “firm pledge” during his campaign that he would not raise “any of your taxes” (Sections 9001-9016)
  2. Forces Americans to purchase a product for the first time ever (Section 1501)
  3. Creates a board of 15 unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats to make binding rulings on how to reduce Medicare spending (Section 3403)
  4. Pays over $800 billion in subsidies straight to health insurance companies (Sections 1401, 1402, and 1412)
  5. Requires all individuals to buy government-approved health insurance plans, imposing new mandates that will raise individual insurance premiums by an average of $2,100 per family (Section 1302)
  6. Forces seniors to lose their current health care, by enacting Medicare Advantage cuts that by 2017 will cut enrollment in half, and cut plan choices by two-thirds (Section 3201)
  7. Imposes a 40 percent tax on health benefits, a direct contradiction of Barack Obama’s campaign promises (Section 9001)
  8. Relies upon government bureaucrats to “issue guidance on best practices of plain language writing” (Section 1311(e)(3)(B))
  9. Provides special benefits to residents of Libby, Montana – home of Max Baucus, the powerful Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who helped write the law even though he says he hasn’t read it (Section 10323)
  10. Imposes what a Democrat Governor called the “mother of all unfunded mandates” – new, Washington-dictated requirements of at least $118 billion – at a time when states already face budget deficits totaling a collective $175 billion (Section 2001)
  11. Imposes reductions in Medicare spending that, according to the program’s non-partisan actuary, would cause 40 percent of all Medicare providers to become unprofitable, and could lead to their exit from the program (Section 3401)
  12. Raises premiums on more than 17 million seniors participating in Medicare Part D, so that Big Pharma can benefit from its “rock-solid deal” struck behind closed doors with President Obama and Congressional Democrats (Section 3301)
  13. Creates an institute to undertake research that, according to one draft Committee report prepared by Democrats, could mean that “more expensive [treatments] will no longer be prescribed” (Section 6301)
  14. Creates a multi-billion dollar “slush fund” doled out solely by federal bureaucrats, which has already been used to fund things like bike paths (Section 4002)
  15. Subjects states to myriad new lawsuits, by forcing them to assume legal liability for delivering services to Medicaid patients for the first time in that program’s history (Section 2304)
  16. Permits taxpayer dollars to flow to health plans that fund abortion, in a sharp deviation from prior practice under Democrat and Republican Administrations (Section 1303)
  17. Empowers bureaucrats on a board that has ruled against mammograms and against prostate cancer screenings to make binding determinations about what types of preventive services should be covered (Sections 2713 and 4104)
  18. Precludes poor individuals from having a choice of health care plans by automatically dumping them in the Medicaid program (Section 1413(a))
  19. Creates a new entitlement program that one Democrat called “a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of” – a scheme so unsustainable even the Administration was forced to admit it would not work (Section 8002)
  20. Provides $5 billion in taxpayer dollars to a fund that has largely served to bail out unions and other organizations who made unsustainable health care promises to retirees that they cannot afford (Section 1102)
  21. Creates a tax credit so convoluted it requires seven different worksheets to determine eligibility (Section 1421)
  22. Imposes multiple penalties on those who marry, by reducing subsidies (and increasing taxes) for married couples when compared to two individuals cohabiting together (Sections 1401-02)
  23. Extends the Medicare “payroll tax” to unearned income for the first time ever, including new taxes on the sale of some homes (Section 1402)
  24. Impedes state flexibility by requiring Medicaid programs to offer a specific package of benefits, including benefits like family planning services (Sections 2001(a)(2), 2001(c), 1302(b), and 2303(c))
  25. Requires individuals to go to the doctor and get a prescription in order to spend their own Flexible Spending Account money on over-the-counter medicines (Section 9003)
  26. Expands the definition of “low-income” to make 63 percent of non-elderly Americans eligible for “low-income” subsidized insurance (Section 1401)
  27. Imposes a new tax on the makers of goods like pacemakers and hearing aids (Section 9009)
  28. Creates an insurance reimbursement scheme that could result in the federal government obtaining Americans’ medical records (Section 1343)
  29. Permits states to make individuals presumptively eligible for Medicaid for unlimited 60-day periods, thus allowing any individual to receive taxpayer-funded assistance ad infinitum (Section 2303(b))
  30. Allows individuals to purchase insurance on government exchanges – and to receive taxpayer-funded insurance subsidies – WITHOUT verifying their identity as American citizens (Section 1411)
  31. Gives $300 million in higher Medicaid reimbursements to one state as part of the infamous “Louisiana Purchase” – described by ABC News as “what…it take[s] to get a wavering senator to vote for health care reform” (Section 2006)
  32. Raises taxes on firms who cannot afford to buy coverage for their workers (Section 1513)
  33. Forces younger Americans to pay double-digit premium increases so that older workers can pay slightly less (Section 1201)
  34. Prohibits states from modifying their Medicaid programs to include things like modest anti-fraud protections (Section 2001)
  35. Includes a special provision increasing federal payments just for Tennessee (Section 1203(b))
  36. Allows individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines – but only if politicians and bureaucrats agree to allow citizens this privilege (Section 1333)
  37. Allows the HHS Secretary and federal bureaucrats to grant waivers exempting people from Obamacare’s onerous mandates, over half of which have gone to members of union plans (Section 1001)
  38. Creates a pseudo-government-run plan overseen by the federal government (Section 1334)
  39. Removes a demonstration project designed to force government-run Medicare to compete on a level playing field with private plans (Section 1102(f))
  40. Gives the Secretary of HHS an UNLIMITED amount of federal funds to spend funding state insurance Exchanges (Section 1311(a))
  41. Creates a grant program that could be used by liberal groups like ACORN or AARP to conduct “public education activities” surrounding Obamacare (Section 1311(i))
  42. Applies new federal mandates to pre-Obamacare insurance policies, thus proving that you CAN’T keep the insurance plan you had – and liked – before the law passed (Sections 2301 and 10103)
  43. Prohibits individuals harmed by federal bureaucrats from challenging those decisions, either in court or through regulatory processes (Sections 3001, 3003, 3007, 3008, 3021, 3022, 3025, 3133, 3403, 5501, 6001, and 6401)
  44. Earmarks $100 million for “construction of a health care facility,” a “sweetheart deal” inserted by a Democrat Senator trying to win re-election (Section 10502)
  45. Puts yet another Medicaid unfunded mandate on states, by raising payments to primary care physicians, but only for two years, forcing states to come up with another method of funding this unsustainable promise when federal funding expires (Section 1202)
  46. Imposes price controls that have had the effect of costing jobs in the short time since they were first implemented (Section 1001)
  47. Prohibits individuals from spending federal insurance subsidies outside government-approved Exchanges (Section 1401(a))
  48. Provides a special increase in federal hospital payments just for Hawaii (Section 10201(e)(1))
  49. Imposes new reporting requirements that will cost businesses millions of dollars, and affect thousands of restaurants and other establishments across the country (Section 4205)
  50. Codifies 159 new boards, bureaucracies, and programs

The Supreme Court may have struck some of these onerous provisions, but the only way to ensure that ALL these provisions are eliminated – and never return – is to repeal ALL of this unconstitutional law immediately.

208 Things in Obamacare that Obama and Democrats Support

Last week, former HELP Committee staffer John McDonough wrote a list of “50 provisions I ask the media to ask Romney et al. if they are committed to repealing as President.”  McDonough noted that “there are [Obamacare] provisions opponents could pick out to create an alternative list for elimination.”

We here at RPC know a challenge when we hear one; our list is submitted below, with sections from the statute duly noted.  Remember when reading this list:  We KNOW that President Obama and Democrats all support these provisions in Obamacare – because they all voted to enact them into law.  So members of the media can readily ask President Obama and Democrat Members of Congress why they supported a law that…

  1. Imposes $800 billion in tax increases, including no fewer than 12 separate provisions breaking candidate Obama’s “firm pledge” during his campaign that he would not raise “any of your taxes” (Sections 9001-9016)?
  2. Forces Americans to purchase a product for the first time ever (Section 1501)?
  3. Creates a board of 15 unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats to make binding rulings on how to reduce Medicare spending (Section 3403)?
  4. Pays over $800 billion in subsidies straight to health insurance companies (Sections 1401, 1402, and 1412)?
  5. Requires all individuals to buy government-approved health insurance plans, imposing new mandates that will raise individual insurance premiums by an average of $2,100 per family (Section 1302)?
  6. Forces seniors to lose their current health care, by enacting Medicare Advantage cuts that by 2017 will cut enrollment in half, and cut plan choices by two-thirds (Section 3201)?
  7. Imposes a 40 percent tax on health benefits, a direct contradiction of Barack Obama’s campaign promises (Section 9001)?
  8. Relies upon government bureaucrats to “issue guidance on best practices of plain language writing” (Section 1311(e)(3)(B))?
  9. Provides special benefits to residents of Libby, Montana – home of Max Baucus, the powerful Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who helped write the law even though he says he hasn’t read it (Section 10323)?
  10. Imposes what a Democrat Governor called the “mother of all unfunded mandates” – new, Washington-dictated requirements of at least $118 billion – at a time when states already face budget deficits totaling a collective $175 billion (Section 2001)?
  11. Imposes reductions in Medicare spending that, according to the program’s non-partisan actuary, would cause 40 percent of all Medicare providers to become unprofitable, and could lead to their exit from the program (Section 3401)?
  12. Raises premiums on more than 17 million seniors participating in Medicare Part D, so that Big Pharma can benefit from its “rock-solid deal” struck behind closed doors with President Obama and Congressional Democrats (Section 3301)?
  13. Creates an institute to undertake research that, according to one draft Committee report prepared by Democrats, could mean that “more expensive [treatments] will no longer be prescribed” (Section 6301)?
  14. Creates a multi-billion dollar “slush fund” doled out solely by federal bureaucrats, which has already been used to fund things like bike paths (Section 4002)?
  15. Subjects states to myriad new lawsuits, by forcing them to assume legal liability for delivering services to Medicaid patients for the first time in that program’s history (Section 2304)?
  16. Permits taxpayer dollars to flow to health plans that fund abortion, in a sharp deviation from prior practice under Democrat and Republican Administrations (Section 1303)?
  17. Empowers bureaucrats on a board that has ruled against mammograms and against prostate cancer screenings to make binding determinations about what types of preventive services should be covered (Sections 2713 and 4104)?
  18. Precludes poor individuals from having a choice of health care plans by automatically dumping them in the Medicaid program (Section 1413(a))?
  19. Creates a new entitlement program that one Democrat called “a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of” – a scheme so unsustainable even the Administration was forced to admit it would not work (Section 8002)?
  20. Provides $5 billion in taxpayer dollars to a fund that has largely served to bail out unions and other organizations who made unsustainable health care promises to retirees that they cannot afford (Section 1102)?
  21. Creates a tax credit so convoluted it requires seven different worksheets to determine eligibility (Section 1421)?
  22. Imposes multiple penalties on those who marry, by reducing subsidies (and increasing taxes) for married couples when compared to two individuals cohabiting together (Sections 1401-02)?
  23. Extends the Medicare “payroll tax” to unearned income for the first time ever, including new taxes on the sale of some homes (Section 1402)?
  24. Impedes state flexibility by requiring Medicaid programs to offer a specific package of benefits, including benefits like family planning services (Sections 2001(a)(2), 2001(c), 1302(b), and 2303(c))?
  25. Requires individuals to go to the doctor and get a prescription in order to spend their own Flexible Spending Account money on over-the-counter medicines (Section 9003)?
  26. Expands the definition of “low-income” to make 63 percent of non-elderly Americans eligible for “low-income” subsidized insurance (Section 1401)?
  27. Imposes a new tax on the makers of goods like pacemakers and hearing aids (Section 9009)?
  28. Creates an insurance reimbursement scheme that could result in the federal government obtaining Americans’ medical records (Section 1343)?
  29. Permits states to make individuals presumptively eligible for Medicaid for unlimited 60-day periods, thus allowing any individual to receive taxpayer-funded assistance ad infinitum (Section 2303(b))?
  30. Allows individuals to purchase insurance on government exchanges – and to receive taxpayer-funded insurance subsidies – WITHOUT verifying their identity as American citizens (Section 1411)?
  31. Gives $300 million in higher Medicaid reimbursements to one state as part of the infamous “Louisiana Purchase” – described by ABC News as “what…it take[s] to get a wavering senator to vote for health care reform” (Section 2006)?
  32. Raises taxes on firms who cannot afford to buy coverage for their workers (Section 1513)?
  33. Forces younger Americans to pay double-digit premium increases so that older workers can pay slightly less (Section 1201)?
  34. Prohibits states from modifying their Medicaid programs to include things like modest anti-fraud protections (Section 2001)?
  35. Includes a special provision increasing federal payments just for Tennessee (Section 1203(b))?
  36. Allows individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines – but only if politicians and bureaucrats agree to allow citizens this privilege (Section 1333)?
  37. Allows the HHS Secretary and federal bureaucrats to grant waivers exempting people from Obamacare’s onerous mandates, over half of which have gone to members of union plans (Section 1001)?
  38. Creates a pseudo-government-run plan overseen by the federal government (Section 1334)?
  39. Removes a demonstration project designed to force government-run Medicare to compete on a level playing field with private plans (Section 1102(f))?
  40. Gives the Secretary of HHS an UNLIMITED amount of federal funds to spend funding state insurance Exchanges (Section 1311(a))?
  41. Creates a grant program that could be used by liberal groups like ACORN or AARP to conduct “public education activities” surrounding Obamacare (Section 1311(i))?
  42. Applies new federal mandates to pre-Obamacare insurance policies, thus proving that you CAN’T keep the insurance plan you had – and liked – before the law passed (Sections 2301 and 10103)?
  43. Prohibits individuals harmed by federal bureaucrats from challenging those decisions, either in court or through regulatory processes (Sections 3001, 3003, 3007, 3008, 3021, 3022, 3025, 3133, 3403, 5501, 6001, AND 6401)?
  44. Earmarks $100 million for “construction of a health care facility,” a “sweetheart deal” inserted by a Democrat Senator trying to win re-election (Section 10502)?
  45. Puts yet another Medicaid unfunded mandate on states, by raising payments to primary care physicians, but only for two years, forcing states to come up with another method of funding this unsustainable promise when federal funding expires (Section 1202)?
  46. Imposes price controls that have had the effect of costing jobs in the short time since they were first implemented (Section 1001)?
  47. Prohibits individuals from spending federal insurance subsidies outside government-approved Exchanges (Section 1401(a))?
  48. Provides a special increase in federal hospital payments just for Hawaii (Section 10201(e)(1))?
  49. Imposes new reporting requirements that will cost businesses millions of dollars, and affect thousands of restaurants and other establishments across the country (Section 4205)?

And instead of including a 50th item on our list, we’re going to include 159 separate items.  These are the 159 new boards, bureaucracies, and programs created by Obamacare.  You can find the list below, or here.

No matter which way you look at it, this list provides 208 easy reasons why the American people still continue to reject Democrats’ unpopular 2700-page health care law.

 

Obamacare’s 159 New Boards, Bureaucracies, Commissions, and Programs

  1. Grant program for consumer assistance offices (Section 1002, p. 37)
  2. Grant program for states to monitor premium increases (Section 1003, p. 42)
  3. Committee to review administrative simplification standards (Section 1104, p. 71)
  4. Demonstration program for state wellness programs (Section 1201, p. 93)
  5. Grant program to establish state Exchanges (Section 1311(a), p. 130)
  6. State American Health Benefit Exchanges (Section 1311(b), p. 131)
  7. Exchange grants to establish consumer navigator programs (Section 1311(i), p. 150)
  8. Grant program for state cooperatives (Section 1322, p. 169)
  9. Advisory board for state cooperatives (Section 1322(b)(3), p. 173)
  10. Private purchasing council for state cooperatives (Section 1322(d), p. 177)
  11. State basic health plan programs (Section 1331, p. 201)
  12. State-based reinsurance program (Section 1341, p. 226)
  13. Program of risk corridors for individual and small group markets (Section 1342, p. 233)
  14. Program to determine eligibility for Exchange participation (Section 1411, p. 267)
  15. Program for advance determination of tax credit eligibility (Section 1412, p. 288)
  16. Grant program to implement health IT enrollment standards (Section 1561, p. 370)
  17. Federal Coordinated Health Care Office for dual eligible beneficiaries (Section 2602, p. 512)
  18. Medicaid quality measurement program (Section 2701, p. 518)
  19. Medicaid health home program for people with chronic conditions, and grants for planning same (Section 2703, p. 524)
  20. Medicaid demonstration project to evaluate bundled payments (Section 2704, p. 532)
  21. Medicaid demonstration project for global payment system (Section 2705, p. 536)
  22. Medicaid demonstration project for accountable care organizations (Section 2706, p. 538)
  23. Medicaid demonstration project for emergency psychiatric care (Section 2707, p. 540)
  24. Grant program for delivery of services to individuals with postpartum depression (Section 2952(b), p. 591)
  25. State allotments for grants to promote personal responsibility education programs (Section 2953, p. 596)
  26. Medicare value-based purchasing program (Section 3001(a), p. 613)
  27. Medicare value-based purchasing demonstration program for critical access hospitals (Section 3001(b), p. 637)
  28. Medicare value-based purchasing program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 3006(a), p. 666)
  29. Medicare value-based purchasing program for home health agencies (Section 3006(b), p. 668)
  30. Interagency Working Group on Health Care Quality (Section 3012, p. 688)
  31. Grant program to develop health care quality measures (Section 3013, p. 693)
  32. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Section 3021, p. 712)
  33. Medicare shared savings program (Section 3022, p. 728)
  34. Medicare pilot program on payment bundling (Section 3023, p. 739)
  35. Independence at home medical practice demonstration program (Section 3024, p. 752)
  36. Program for use of patient safety organizations to reduce hospital readmission rates (Section 3025(b), p. 775)
  37. Community-based care transitions program (Section 3026, p. 776)
  38. Demonstration project for payment of complex diagnostic laboratory tests (Section 3113, p. 800)
  39. Medicare hospice concurrent care demonstration project (Section 3140, p. 850)
  40. Independent Payment Advisory Board (Section 3403, p. 982)
  41. Consumer Advisory Council for Independent Payment Advisory Board (Section 3403, p. 1027)
  42. Grant program for technical assistance to providers implementing health quality practices (Section 3501, p. 1043)
  43. Grant program to establish interdisciplinary health teams (Section 3502, p. 1048)
  44. Grant program to implement medication therapy management (Section 3503, p. 1055)
  45. Grant program to support emergency care pilot programs (Section 3504, p. 1061)
  46. Grant program to promote universal access to trauma services (Section 3505(b), p. 1081)
  47. Grant program to develop and promote shared decision-making aids (Section 3506, p. 1088)
  48. Grant program to support implementation of shared decision-making (Section 3506, p. 1091)
  49. Grant program to integrate quality improvement in clinical education (Section 3508, p. 1095)
  50. Health and Human Services Coordinating Committee on Women’s Health (Section 3509(a), p. 1098)
  51. Centers for Disease Control Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(b), p. 1102)
  52. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(e), p. 1105)
  53. Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(f), p. 1106)
  54. Food and Drug Administration Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(g), p. 1109)
  55. National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council (Section 4001, p. 1114)
  56. Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health (Section 4001(f), p. 1117)
  57. Prevention and Public Health Fund (Section 4002, p. 1121)
  58. Community Preventive Services Task Force (Section 4003(b), p. 1126)
  59. Grant program to support school-based health centers (Section 4101, p. 1135)
  60. Grant program to promote research-based dental caries disease management (Section 4102, p. 1147)
  61. Grant program for States to prevent chronic disease in Medicaid beneficiaries (Section 4108, p. 1174)
  62. Community transformation grants (Section 4201, p. 1182)
  63. Grant program to provide public health interventions (Section 4202, p. 1188)
  64. Demonstration program of grants to improve child immunization rates (Section 4204(b), p. 1200)
  65. Pilot program for risk-factor assessments provided through community health centers (Section 4206, p. 1215)
  66. Grant program to increase epidemiology and laboratory capacity (Section 4304, p. 1233)
  67. Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (Section 4305, p. 1238)
  68. National Health Care Workforce Commission (Section 5101, p. 1256)
  69. Grant program to plan health care workforce development activities (Section 5102(c), p. 1275)
  70. Grant program to implement health care workforce development activities (Section 5102(d), p. 1279)
  71. Pediatric specialty loan repayment program (Section 5203, p. 1295)
  72. Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program (Section 5204, p. 1300)
  73. Allied Health Loan Forgiveness Program (Section 5205, p. 1305)
  74. Grant program to provide mid-career training for health professionals (Section 5206, p. 1307)
  75. Grant program to fund nurse-managed health clinics (Section 5208, p. 1310)
  76. Grant program to support primary care training programs (Section 5301, p. 1315)
  77. Grant program to fund training for direct care workers (Section 5302, p. 1322)
  78. Grant program to develop dental training programs (Section 5303, p. 1325)
  79. Demonstration program to increase access to dental health care in underserved communities (Section 5304, p. 1331)
  80. Grant program to promote geriatric education centers (Section 5305, p. 1334)
  81. Grant program to promote health professionals entering geriatrics (Section 5305, p. 1339)
  82. Grant program to promote training in mental and behavioral health (Section 5306, p. 1344)
  83. Grant program to promote nurse retention programs (Section 5309, p. 1354)
  84. Student loan forgiveness for nursing school faculty (Section 5311(b), p. 1360)
  85. Grant program to promote positive health behaviors and outcomes (Section 5313, p. 1364)
  86. Public Health Sciences Track for medical students (Section 5315, p. 1372)
  87. Primary Care Extension Program to educate providers (Section 5405, p. 1404)
  88. Grant program for demonstration projects to address health workforce shortage needs (Section 5507, p. 1442)
  89. Grant program for demonstration projects to develop training programs for home health aides (Section 5507, p. 1447)
  90. Grant program to establish new primary care residency programs (Section 5508(a), p. 1458)
  91. Program of payments to teaching health centers that sponsor medical residency training (Section 5508(c), p. 1462)
  92. Graduate nurse education demonstration program (Section 5509, p. 1472)
  93. Grant program to establish demonstration projects for community-based mental health settings (Section 5604, p. 1486)
  94. Commission on Key National Indicators (Section 5605, p. 1489)
  95. Quality assurance and performance improvement program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 6102, p. 1554)
  96. Special focus facility program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 6103(a)(3), p. 1561)
  97. Special focus facility program for nursing facilities (Section 6103(b)(3), p. 1568)
  98. National independent monitor pilot program for skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities (Section 6112, p. 1589)
  99. Demonstration projects for nursing facilities involved in the culture change movement (Section 6114, p. 1597)
  100. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (Section 6301, p. 1619)
  101. Standing methodology committee for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (Section 6301, p. 1629)
  102. Board of Governors for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (Section 6301, p. 1638)
  103. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund (Section 6301(e), p. 1656)
  104. Elder Justice Coordinating Council (Section 6703, p. 1773)
  105. Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation (Section 6703, p. 1776)
  106. Grant program to create elder abuse forensic centers (Section 6703, p. 1783)
  107. Grant program to promote continuing education for long-term care staffers (Section 6703, p. 1787)
  108. Grant program to improve management practices and training (Section 6703, p. 1788)
  109. Grant program to subsidize costs of electronic health records (Section 6703, p. 1791)
  110. Grant program to promote adult protective services (Section 6703, p. 1796)
  111. Grant program to conduct elder abuse detection and prevention (Section 6703, p. 1798)
  112. Grant program to support long-term care ombudsmen (Section 6703, p. 1800)
  113. National Training Institute for long-term care surveyors (Section 6703, p. 1806)
  114. Grant program to fund State surveys of long-term care residences (Section 6703, p. 1809)
  115. CLASS Independence Fund (Section 8002, p. 1926)
  116. CLASS Independence Fund Board of Trustees (Section 8002, p. 1927)
  117. CLASS Independence Advisory Council (Section 8002, p. 1931)
  118. Personal Care Attendants Workforce Advisory Panel (Section 8002(c), p. 1938)
  119. Multi-state health plans offered by Office of Personnel Management (Section 10104(p), p. 2086)
  120. Advisory board for multi-state health plans (Section 10104(p), p. 2094)
  121. Pregnancy Assistance Fund (Section 10212, p. 2164)
  122. Value-based purchasing program for ambulatory surgical centers (Section 10301, p. 2176)
  123. Demonstration project for payment adjustments to home health services (Section 10315, p. 2200)
  124. Pilot program for care of individuals in environmental emergency declaration areas (Section 10323, p. 2223)
  125. Grant program to screen at-risk individuals for environmental health conditions (Section 10323(b), p. 2231)
  126. Pilot programs to implement value-based purchasing (Section 10326, p. 2242)
  127. Grant program to support community-based collaborative care networks (Section 10333, p. 2265)
  128. Centers for Disease Control Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
  129. Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
  130. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
  131. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
  132. Food and Drug Administration Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
  133. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
  134. Grant program to promote small business wellness programs (Section 10408, p. 2285)
  135. Cures Acceleration Network (Section 10409, p. 2289)
  136. Cures Acceleration Network Review Board (Section 10409, p. 2291)
  137. Grant program for Cures Acceleration Network (Section 10409, p. 2297)
  138. Grant program to promote centers of excellence for depression (Section 10410, p. 2304)
  139. Advisory committee for young women’s breast health awareness education campaign (Section 10413, p. 2322)
  140. Grant program to provide assistance to provide information to young women with breast cancer (Section 10413, p. 2326)
  141. Interagency Access to Health Care in Alaska Task Force (Section 10501, p. 2329)
  142. Grant program to train nurse practitioners as primary care providers (Section 10501(e), p. 2332)
  143. Grant program for community-based diabetes prevention (Section 10501(g), p. 2337)
  144. Grant program for providers who treat a high percentage of medically underserved populations (Section 10501(k), p. 2343)
  145. Grant program to recruit students to practice in underserved communities (Section 10501(l), p. 2344)
  146. Community Health Center Fund (Section 10503, p. 2355)
  147. Demonstration project to provide access to health care for the uninsured at reduced fees (Section 10504, p. 2357)
  148. Demonstration program to explore alternatives to tort litigation (Section 10607, p. 2369)
  149. Indian Health demonstration program for chronic shortages of health professionals (S. 1790, Section 112, p. 24)*
  150. Office of Indian Men’s Health (S. 1790, Section 136, p. 71)*
  151. Indian Country modular component facilities demonstration program (S. 1790, Section 146, p. 108)*
  152. Indian mobile health stations demonstration program (S. 1790, Section 147, p. 111)*
  153. Office of Direct Service Tribes (S. 1790, Section 172, p. 151)*
  154. Indian Health Service mental health technician training program (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 173)*
  155. Indian Health Service program for treatment of child sexual abuse victims (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 192)*
  156. Indian Health Service program for treatment of domestic violence and sexual abuse (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 194)*
  157. Indian youth telemental health demonstration project (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 204)*
  158. Indian youth life skills demonstration project (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 220)*
  159. Indian Health Service Director of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment (S. 1790, Section 199B, p. 258)*

 

*Section 10221, page 2173 of H.R. 3590 deems that S. 1790 shall be deemed as passed with certain amendments.

Obamacare Consultant Admits: Over $800 Billion “Straight to Insurance Companies”

After House Republicans last week released a report outlining how Obamacare penalizes marriage, liberal professor Jonathan Gruber – a paid Obamacare consultant – responded yesterday in an interview posted on the New Republic’s website.  He’s wrong on several key points*, but right on a very important one:

Most households will never actually get their hands on the credits, so their existing tax liabilities won’t actually change.  In most cases, credits will go straight to insurance companies, to pay for health benefits.

Democrats’ claims to the contrary, the law and record are very clear about the fact that this massive new entitlement will go straight into the arms of the insurance industry:

  • Section 1412(c)(2)(A) of the law provides that “The Secretary of the Treasury shall make the advance payment under this section of any premium tax credit allowed under section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to the issuer of a qualified health plan on a monthly basis.”
  • Page 37 of the report on the Finance Committee bill states: “The Committee Bill provides a refundable tax credit for eligible individuals and families who purchase health insurance through the state exchanges.  The premium tax credit, which is refundable and payable in advance directly to the insurer, subsidizes the purchase of certain health insurance plans through the state exchanges.”

The Congressional Budget Office’s most recent estimates regarding Obamacare’s insurance subsidies show that from 2014 through 2021, the federal government will spend a whopping $821.2 billion for subsidies that “will go straight to insurance companies,” according to Gruber’s own admission.

Of course, candidate Obama opposed sending subsidies straight to insurance companies when he ran for President, only to flip-flop on this issue when he signed Obamacare:

  • An Obama campaign ad derided Senator McCain’s proposal to subsidize insurance through tax credits: “That tax credit?  McCain’s own Web site said it goes straight to the insurance companies, not to you, leaving you on your own…”
  • Likewise, in a campaign speech, candidate Obama vilified Senator McCain for this policy: “But the new tax credit [McCain’s] proposing?  That wouldn’t go to you.  It would go directly to your insurance company – not your bank account.”

Gruber was attempting to argue that taxpayers’ liability would not change under Obamacare – because the subsidies are paid directly to insurers, individuals who owed the IRS $1,000 would still owe the IRS $1,000 come April 15.  But that misses the point – because someone who sends the IRS a $1,000 tax payment, and then has the IRS subsidize his health insurance to the tune of $5,000, is obviously a net winner when it comes to the Internal Revenue Code.  (Who wouldn’t take that deal?)  The issue is who are the net contributors to the federal budget, and the Joint Committee on Taxation admitted that under Obamacare, another 7-8 million more households will receive more from the federal government in benefits than they pay in taxes.  Which raises the larger question:  What will happen to Obamacare when Democrats run out of other people’s money to spend…?

 

* Some of the other nonsense claims made by Gruber include:

  • He conflates (unwittingly or not) tax refunds at the end of the year with refundable tax credits as a “semantic choice.”  It’s NOT a semantic argument:  The former are for those who overpaid their taxes during the year; the latter are for those that do not pay income taxes at all.
  • He conflates the subsidies under Obamacare to the “large tax refunds that were put in place by the Bush tax cuts,” as both represent spending, in his view.  Again, this view is incorrect.  According to CBO, $103.2 billion of the $140.1 billion – or nearly 75% – of the federal spending on Exchange subsidies in 2021 will be refundable subsidies to people who do not have income tax liability.  Conversely, according to CBO, less than 10% of the cost of the 2001 tax relief act represented outlay effects – i.e., refundable federal spending on those who do not have income tax liability.  In other words, the vast majority of the Bush tax relief was provided to individuals who paid income taxes – and the vast majority of Obamacare’s subsidies are to people who don’t.  You can argue whether each is good or bad policy, but you can’t argue with those facts.
  • Gruber also claims that “the committee’s analysis conveniently ignores the fact that all but the highest wage earners pay significant payroll taxes in the U.S.”  But Democrats have told Republicans for years that those payroll taxes are used solely to fund Social Security benefits, meaning those workers will get their payroll taxes back in future benefits (and especially in the case of low-income workers, will get their payroll taxes back and then some, due to the way Social Security benefits are calculated).  Or does Gruber now want to admit that the Social Security Trust Fund is effectively meaningless, and that those who pay only payroll taxes are funding general government obligations rather than their own retirement benefits…?

Spreading the Wealth — But NOT to Families…

The Government Reform Committee released a report this morning in conjunction with their hearing on the distortionary incentives included in Obamacare.  The report also discusses a letter the Committee received from Congress’ non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation analyzing the impact of Obamacare’s insurance subsidies.  The Joint Tax Committee concluded that under Obamacare, more than 7 million tax filers will have their entire income tax liability eliminated.  This development comes at a time when more than half of all households did not pay income taxes in 2009 – meaning Obamacare will only exacerbate trends that see a dwindling percentage of Americans funding the federal government through income tax payments.

The Joint Tax Committee also found that only 2 million of the 14 million filing units receiving Obamacare insurance subsidies will be joint filers, even though joint filers comprise about 40% of all tax returns.  That disparity is due to the marriage penalty included in Obamacare – the law bases subsidy amounts on the federal poverty level (FPL), but the FPL for two people is less than double that of a single person.  As a result, two individuals filing separately will have a lower income as a percentage of FPL than a married couple, making them more likely to obtain insurance subsidies (or to obtain a richer insurance subsidy).

President Obama has already talked about his desire to spread the wealth around – and on that count, Obamacare certainly succeeds, by ensuring millions more Americans will be excused from paying income taxes.  But there’s apparently a catch involved the President hasn’t advertised – thanks to Obamacare’s perverse incentives, much of the wealth may be spread from married couples who don’t qualify for subsidies into the hands of single people, or cohabiting couples, who do.

One Year Later: STILL Bad for Young People

Today the Administration continues to sell its unpopular health care law to younger Americans, hoping they will see its benefits.  In reality however, young people stand to lose, not gain, from the 2700-page measure:

Higher Health Insurance Premiums.  The law states that insurance carriers cannot charge older individuals more than three times the premiums paid by younger applicants – meaning premiums for the young will likely rise so premiums for older populations can fall.  A Rand Corporation analysis found that premiums for individuals under age 35 could rise by 17% due to this one mandate, while other analyses have even higher estimated premium impacts.  While supporting initiatives (such as state-based high-risk pools) that would provide affordable coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, the very narrow age variations allowed function as a significant transfer of wealth from younger to older Americans—and by raising premiums for young and healthy individuals, may discourage them from buying insurance at all.

Penalties for Those Who Cannot Afford Coverage.  The law imposes penalties on individuals who cannot afford to purchase a “government-approved” policy – one that meets all the new federal mandates and regulations imposed in the legislation.  As candidate Obama pointed out during his presidential campaign, in Massachusetts, the one state with an individual mandate, “there are people who are paying fines and still can’t afford [health insurance], so now they’re worse off than they were.  They don’t have health insurance and they’re paying a fine.”

Employer Mandate Will Hurt Women and Young Workers.  The law penalizes employers who do not provide “acceptable” coverage, forcing them to pay a “fair share” penalty of $2,000 per full-time employee.  Harvard Professor Kate Baicker’s analysis demonstrates that at least 5.5 million low-wage workers would be “at substantial risk of unemployment” due to new mandates on employers.  What’s more, women and young adults “face the highest risk of losing their jobs under employer mandates.”  The Congressional Budget Office has also confirmed that such mandates “could reduce the hiring of low-wage workers,” and lead to wage stagnation as compensation is diverted to comply with new federal mandates.  At a time when nearly one in four teens is unemployed, these harmful tax increases will hurt exactly the workers that the law intends to help.

Marriage Penalty.  The law bases health insurance subsidy thresholds on multiples of the federal poverty level, and because the poverty level for a two-person couple ($14,710) is less than twice the poverty standard for a single person ($10,890), couples who marry will see their eligibility for subsidies automatically decline when compared to two cohabiting individuals.  Many may view this policy as providing perverse incentives for couples not to marry.

Rising Debt a Fiscal Time Bomb for Future Generations.  At a time of record budget deficits, the health law spends $2.6 trillion in its first 10 years of full implementation.  Growing the debt problem by adding trillions more of federal spending will only increase the debt burden to be faced by future generations.

One Year Later: STILL Bad for Women and Families

While Democrats attempt today to sell their unpopular health care law to women, its provisions provide many specific reasons why women and families should oppose both the law and its harmful effects:

Marriage Penalty:  The law bases health insurance subsidy thresholds on multiples of the federal poverty level, and because the poverty level for a two-person couple ($14,710) is less than twice the poverty standard for a single person ($10,890), couples who marry will see their eligibility for subsidies automatically decline when compared to two cohabiting individuals.  Many may view this policy as providing perverse incentives for couples not to marry.

Another Marriage Penalty:  Among its more than half-trillion dollars in new taxes, the measure raises the payroll tax by a total of $210.2 billion – and the higher taxes apply to incomes of $200,000 for a single individual, but $250,000 for a family.  Thus a married couple with wage earnings of $195,000 each will pay $5,320 more in taxes than two single persons with the same salary.

Employer Mandate Will Hurt Women and Young Workers:  The law penalizes employers who do not provide “acceptable” coverage, forcing them to pay a “fair share” penalty of $2,000 per full-time employee.  Harvard Professor Kate Baicker’s analysis demonstrates that at least 5.5 million low-wage workers would be “at substantial risk of unemployment” due to new mandates on employers.  What’s more, women and young adults “face the highest risk of losing their jobs under employer mandates.”

Federal Funds for Abortion:  The law permits federal funds to subsidize plans covering abortion, permits a multi-state health plan to offer abortion coverage, and requires citizens in states that have opted-out of elective abortion coverage in their own exchange to fund federal subsidies for plans that cover elective abortion in other states.  These provisions will result in the federal government funding actions that violate decades-long precedents for federal health coverage – including that provided to Members of Congress – and that many find morally objectionable.

Rising Debt a Fiscal Time Bomb for Future Generations:  At a time of record budget deficits, the health law spends $2.6 trillion in its first 10 years of full implementation.  Growing the debt problem by adding trillions more of federal spending will only increase the debt burden to be faced by future generations.

Obamacare: Bad for Young Americans

Higher Health Insurance Premiums. The health care takeover[i] states that insurance carriers cannot vary premiums solely based upon family structure, geography, and age; insurance companies also cannot vary premiums by age by more than 3 to 1 (i.e., charge older individuals more than three times the premiums paid by younger applicants). Average premiums for individuals aged 18-24 are nearly one-quarter the average premiums paid by individuals aged 60-64.[ii] While supporting initiatives (such as state-based high-risk pools) that would provide affordable coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, the very narrow age variations allowed function as a significant transfer of wealth from younger to older Americans—and by raising premiums for young and healthy individuals, may discourage their purchase of insurance.

Higher Taxes for Those Who Cannot Afford Coverage. The health care takeover imposes a 2.5 percent tax on the income of all individuals who cannot afford to purchase a “government-approved” policy—that is, one that meets all the new federal mandates and regulations imposed in the legislation. Particularly given the higher premiums that will be imposed on young people for the reasons described above, some may agree with then-Senator Obama when he pointed out that in Massachusetts, the one state with an individual mandate, “there are people who are paying fines and still can’t afford [health insurance], so now they’re worse off than they were. They don’t have health insurance and they’re paying a fine.”[iii]

Tax on Jobs Will Hurt Young Workers. The health care takeover imposes a new tax on jobs by forcing employers who do not provide “acceptable” coverage to pay a “fair share” tax of $2,000 per full-time employee—nearly triple the $750 tax initially proposed. Harvard Professor Kate Baicker’s analysis demonstrates that at least 5.5 million low-wage workers will be “at substantial risk of unemployment” due to new mandates on employers.[iv] The Congressional Budget Office has also confirmed that such mandates “could reduce the hiring of low-wage workers,” and could lead to wage stagnation as compensation is diverted to comply with new federal mandates.[v] At a time when more than one in four teens is unemployed,[vi] these harmful tax increases will hurt exactly the workers that a health care bill is intended to help.

Marriage Penalty. The health care takeover bases health insurance subsidy thresholds on multiples of the federal poverty level, and because the poverty level for a two-person couple ($14,570) is less than twice the poverty standard for a single person ($10,830),[vii] couples who marry will see their eligibility for subsidies automatically decline when compared to two cohabiting individuals. Many may view this policy as providing perverse incentives for couples not to marry.

Rising Debt a Fiscal Time Bomb for Future Generations. The health care takeover spends $2.6 trillion in its first 10 years of full implementation—and the President’s budget proposes to address Medicare physician reimbursements through an additional $371 billion in new deficit spending not included in the legislation.[viii] Growing the problem by adding trillions more of federal spending will only increase the debt burden to be faced by future generations.

 

[i] Senate-passed bill (H.R. 3590) text available at http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3590/text; reconciliation bill (H.R. 4872) text available at http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h4872/text.

[ii] America’s Health Insurance Plans, survey of individual health insurance products, December 2007, http://www.ahipresearch.org/pdfs/Individual_Market_Survey_December_2007.pdf, Table 2, p. 7.

[iii] Democratic presidential debate in Austin, Texas, February 21, 2008, transcript available at http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/21/debate.transcript/index.html.

[iv] Kate Baicker and Helen Levy, “Employer Health Insurance Mandates and the Risk of Unemployment,” NBER Working Paper 13528, October 2007, http://www.nber.org/papers/w13528.pdf.

[v] Congressional Budget Office, “Effects of Changes to the Health Insurance System on Labor Markets,” July 13, 2009, http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/104xx/doc10435/07-13-HealthCareAndLaborMarkets.pdf

[vi] Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The Employment Situation – February 2010,” http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

[vii] Department of Health and Human Services 2009 Federal Poverty Level guidelines, http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/09poverty.shtml.

[viii] President’s Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Submission to Congress, February 2010, http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2011/assets/budget.pdf, Table S-7, p. 162.