Conservatives are in a fevered panic, my friends. They've got trouble with a capital T, because it looks like Republicans have not repealed the Affordable Care Act often enough this term to satisfy the wingiest of the wingers.
But as House and Senate lawmakers have met to hash out a compromise budget over the past few weeks, conservatives noted that House Republican leaders have been talking about leaving their options open. An Obamacare repeal is a possibility, but so is a health care “fix” should the Supreme Court knock down some Obamacare tax credits in a case to be decided within a few months.
The ambiguity is causing consternation within the House Freedom Caucus, the few dozen conservatives who’ve repeatedly given Boehner grief over big-ticket items that have split the GOP. Some conservatives are pushing Republican leaders to clarify their intentions — with a public announcement, a provision in the budget or a private assurance.
That means they and their attendant billionaires have cooked up a new batch of spaghetti they're tossing on the wall to see what sticks.
Heritage Trots Out Sharyl "BENGHAZI!" Attkisson
We have, for example, the marvelous Sharyl Attkisson, who believes vaccines cause autism and unicorns fart rainbows out there to "investigate" California enrollments.
Attkisson's report is CaliforniaGHAZI with a dash of Obamacare. In addition to pretending Covered California is an unmitigated disaster, Attkisson breathlessly quotes anonymous "officials" who complain about low enrollment figures.
Another telling statistic is Covered California’s poor retention rate. Even though people are required by law to have health insurance, only 65 percent of Covered California’s 2014 customers reenrolled in 2015. The rest dropped off.
I'm going to offer two theories for what's going on here. One, the 35 percent she's not counting were enrollees who qualified for Medicaid, which does not require re-enrollment after eligibility is established. Medicaid is administered by counties and the state agencies, so once that referral has been made and approved, they don't enroll through Covered California again.
Or, they got jobs, because California's economy is growing and adding lots of jobs and has been.
But instead of investigating those possibilities, Attkisson just ASSumed 35 percent dropped off because they were so dissatisfied.
1.4 million people -- this family included -- signed up through Covered California and have affordable coverage. Coverage we are satisfied with, I might add.
Perhaps Attkisson should have actually interviewed some Californians who have insurance through Covered California instead of relying on anonymous "officials" who gave her some juicy quotes based on a whole lot of nothing.
Or there's always the Supreme Court -- again.
There is yet another case wending its way through the court system challenging the manner in which the Affordable Care Act was passed. Because spending bills must originate in the House, the House passed a bill and Harry Reid replaced that language with the ACA in its entirety, a procedural maneuver that has been used for years, regardless of who is in control of the House and/or Senate.
In a lawsuit filed against the Department of Health and Human Services, Matt Sissel – described by the court as “an artist and small-business owner who serves from time to time on active duty with the National Guard” – claimed that the Affordable Care Act violated the origination clause since the Senate wrote the legislation but used a shell bill from the House (originally focused on tax credits for first-time home buyers) to move the legislation. The appeals court found this argument unconvincing and affirmed a district court dismissal of Sissel’s complaint.
That zombie complaint has been resurrected yet again. In the past day or so, the argument has cropped up on far right sites like Newsmax and American Thinker, arguing that it really ought to be heard by the Supreme Court. At some point, even Scalia might be sick of this nonsense.
This is because conservatives are nothing if not persistent. After their first case failed, they brought it up again to get it into a Texas appellate court, where the judges might be friendlier.
A federal appellate ruling last Friday, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, declared that an Origination Clause challenge to the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is so important an issue that it may only be raised by a plaintiff who is personally affected. Suggesting a “split” with another court, the 5th Circuit decided that a Texas doctor didn’t have enough of a personal stake in his Origination Clause argument.
As long as Charles Koch and his ilk are willing to bankroll the effort, they'll keep at it, making a lot of lawyers rich at the expense of people who need access to doctors, too. It's a sick, sick thing, this Obamacare Derangement Syndrome.
They're all praying the King v. Burwell challenge to the subsidies works, because then they could screw half the country and somehow still sleep at night. It's really just sickening and mind-boggling all at once.