subsidy

The Affordable Cow Act

"The MO Senate is now debating the Affordable Cow Act. Insurance subsidies for dairy cows is okay. Not for people though. #moleg" (Missouri State Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, R-25, via Twitter, 19 March 2015)Obamacow.

Obamacow.

Obamacow.

Missouri is the “Show-Me State”―

Touted by sponsor Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, as the Dairy Revitalization Act, the measure earned a second nickname Thursday: “Obamacow.” The name stems from a provision of the bill that would subsidize federal dairy insurance for up to 70 percent of farmers’ premium payments.

Before voting in favor of the bill, Republican Sen. Ryan Silvey of Kansas City questioned helping provide dairy insurance while the majority party has resisted growing a federal health care program for low-income adults. Silvey is one of the few GOP members who this session has joined Democrats in calling to expand eligibility for Medicaid.

Silvey called the bill “Obamacow,” drawing a parallel with the term “Obamacare.” That term is used by some Republicans to describe President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, under which states can receive enhanced federal funding if they raise eligibility for adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — or $33,465 for a family of four.

(Ballentine)

―and what they’re showing is not quite inexplicable.

And it’s almost funny.

Obamacow.

____________________

Ballentine, Summer. “Bill to help Missouri’s dairy industry heads to governor”. SFGate.com. 19 March 2015.

LaFaver, Jeremy. “The MO Senate is now debating the Affordable Cow Act”. Twitter. 19 March 2015.

Morbid Hilarity (King v. Burwell Throwback Mix)

That King v. Burwell has even made it to the Supreme Court becomes even more of a mystery; the cynicism of the case is plainly apparent; even Justice Scalia is reduced to cheap politicking.

Perhaps, then, we ought not be surprised at Ian Millhiser’s report for ThinkProgress, which runs under the lovely title, “The Lawyer Telling The Supreme Court To Gut Obamacare Explained Why He Should Lose In 2012”, should surprise nobody:

On Wednesday, a lawsuit seeking to defund much of the Affordable Care Act appeared to hit a roadblock when Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed concerns that the plaintiffs’ reading of the law is unconstitutional. Though Michael Carvin, the lead lawyer challenging the law, attempted to extract himself from this roadblock, he quickly ran into an entirely different obstacle — his own past writings.

Attorney Michael Carvin, who argued King v. Burwell before the Supreme Court of the United States, 3 March 2015, on behalf of plaintiffs hoping to overturn the Affordable Care Act, in an undated photo.  (Image credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)Carvin claims, in a case called King v. Burwell, that Obamacare should be read to deny tax credits that enable millions of Americans to afford health insurance in states that elected not to set up their own health exchange (under the Affordable Care Act, states have “flexibility” to decide whether to set up their own exchange or to allow the federal government to do so). During oral arguments on Wednesday, however, several justices raised concerns about the catastrophic damage Carvin’s reading of the law could inflict on those states’ insurance markets ....

.... Carvin tried to downplay the risk that consumers would simply stop buying plans in the law’s health exchanges if the tax credits were cut off, claiming that these consumers would still be attracted to exchange plans by the fact that the exchanges offer “one-stop shopping” for people looking to buy insurance. He also claimed that Congress wasn’t worried about the risk of death spirals if the tax credits get cut off. According to Carvin, “there’s not a scintilla of legislative history suggesting that without subsidies, there will be a death spiral.”

But Carvin himself sang a very different tune three years ago. Indeed, Wednesday was not the first time he’s stood in the well of the Supreme Courtroom and asked the justices to gut the Affordable Care Act. Carvin was also one of the lead attorneys in NFIB v. Sebelius, the first Supreme Court case attacking the law.

In a brief filed in NFIB, Carvin explained that “[w]ithout the subsidies driving demand within the exchanges, insurance companies would have absolutely no reason to offer their products through exchanges, where they are subject to far greater restrictions.” And, contrary to his more recent suggestion that Congress never envisioned any danger if the tax credits are cut off, Carvin wrote in 2012 that “the insurance exchanges cannot operate as intended by Congress absent those provisions.”

In a subsequent brief, Carvin elaborated that “the federal subsidies are the incentive to participate in the exchanges, and without those subsidies, there will be no mechanism to sustain the exchanges.” He also seemed to contradict his central claim that different states are treated differently depending on whether their exchange is operated by a state or the federal government. The Affordable Care Act, according to the Michael Carvin of 2012, “enables uniform and acceptable federal premium subsidies”.

(more…)