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The latest news on Obamacare from Business Insider

older | 1 | (Page 2) | 3 | 4 | .... | 78 | newer

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    President Obama and Supreme Court Justice John Roberts

    In total, 45 percent of Americans are misinformed about the fact the Supreme Court upheld most of Obamacare last week in one of the most controversial rulings in recent memory.

    From June 28 through July 1, the Pew Research Center asked 1,006 adults what they thought of last week's ruling.

    And the results were a bit shocking.

    A whopping 30 percent of Americans admitted that they have absolutely no idea what the Supreme Court did to Obamacare, according to the research center.

    And an additional 15 percent wrongly believe the high court actually struck down most of President Barack Obama's historic health care reform.

    Somehow, despite the fact that so many Americans don't know which way the court ruled, the health care decision was the second biggest story of 2012.

    Forty-five percent of Americans followed news about the decision very closely, the survey found.

    DON'T MISS: 23 Eye-Opening Quotes From The Supreme Court Obamacare Decision >

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    Richard Posner

    A judge tapped by conservative icon Ronald Reagan says the Republican party has deteriorated significantly in the past decade.

    Judge Richard Posner expressed his exasperation with Republicans  in an interview with NPR on Thursday, even though he said he still admired Reagan and conservative hero Milton Friedman.

    "I've become less conservative since the Republican party started becoming goofy," said Posner, who sits on the federal appeals court in Chicago and has written three dozen books.

    In particular, Posner took issue with conservatives' attacks on Chief Justice John Roberts' Obamacare decision. The prominent judge also implied that Roberts' former friends may have leaked his rumored last-minute change-of-heart about Obamacare to news reporters.

    "I think these right-wingers who are blasting Roberts are making a very serious mistake," Posner told NPR.

    "I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts?" he added. "All the sudden you find out people you thought were your friends have turned against you. They despise you. They mistreat you. They leak to the press."

    DON'T MISS: Nearly Half The Country Has No Clue What Happened With Obamacare >

     

     

     

     

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    birther

    In the 1990s, if people told you about three men on television spinning ever more complicated conspiracy theories about the federal government, you’d assume they were talking about an “X-Files” spinoff. If you heard the same thing today, you’d be on solid ground assuming they were talking about high-ranking members of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

    Mainstream birtherism is, for the most part, dead (top Mitt Romney surrogate Donald Trump keeps hope alive, but President Obama’s birth place is no longer an actual part of the congressional agenda). Fears that the president of the United States is a secret Kenyan may have faded, but newer, bolder, conspiracies about the secret schemes at work in Washington are taking hold.

    Conspiracy theorizing is not a partisan activity — plenty of progressives opposed to President George W. Bush believed sinister agendas lurked behind the scenes in his administration. But most of the outlandish claims never came from the top levels of the Democratic Party.

    A look over the new grassy knoll:

    The White House Plot To Undermine The Second Amendment

    Underpinning much of the Republican focus on the federal Fast and Furious operation is the very real belief that the Obama administration purposely let guns fall into the hands of criminals to be used in the Mexican drug war. Proponents of this idea believe Democrats were seeking a legislative avenue for stricter gun control.

    Conservative gun owners have worried Obama will be coming to take their firearms since the moment the president took office. But as the Fast and Furious investigation reached its zenith last week, with the House voting to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, top Republicans like Rep. Darrell Issa (CA) signed onto aspects of the theory.

    The White House Plot To Destroy Right-Wing Think Tanks

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) has been on a crusade lately to protect Washington’s conservative intellectuals from what he says is an obvious plan by top White House officials to destroy some of their most beloved think tanks under the guise of campaign finance reform.

    Democrats, McConnell believes, want to force groups that spend on political ads to disclose their donors so progressives can expose supporters of conservative groups and shame them out of funding the causes they care about. McConnell also says Obama’s White House has shown a Nixon-like willingness to sic the IRS on its political opponents, giving the conspiracy a real cloak-and-dagger feel.

    McConnell’s solution? Republicans must stand united against the Democratic-sponsored Disclose Act, before it’s too late. But the fear of campaign spending transparency has been a tough sell for McConnell:

    The Huffington Post noted:

    But while McConnell’s speeches argued strongly against the notion of more disclosure itself, transparency used to be the tradeoff that conservatives would make in exchange for eliminating limits on the donations that people could give. McConnell has a long history of making this very argument. But with the Supreme Court’s having wiped away many of the caps on political giving, there is really no more need for him to make that trade.

    John Roberts, Manchurian Justice

    What led Chief Justice John Roberts to cast his vote with the liberal wing of the Supreme Court, thus dashing the hopes — and expectations — of conservatives everywhere? Some options, as espoused by top Republicans:

    Radio host Michael Savage said Roberts was on drugs. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said Roberts was in the pocket of the New York Times. The National Review said Roberts was scared of Obama after the president scolded the court during the State of the Union. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    These suggestions aren’t restricted to the conservative fringe — the idea that outside forces somehow got to Roberts is being espoused by top Republicans, including the one at the top of the presidential ticket.

    “Well, it gives the impression that the decision was made not based upon constitutional foundation, but instead political consideration about the relationship between the branches of government,” Romney told CBS in an interview broadcast Thursday when asked about Roberts’ ruling. “But we won’t really know the answers to those things until the justice himself speaks out, maybe sometime in history.”

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    john roberts

    Chief Justice John Roberts has a long history of dividing his court and alienating liberals and conservatives alike, according to a new investigation by CBS News.

    By now, everyone is aware of the popular theory Roberts originally sided with conservatives and wanted to strike down the heart of Obamacare, and only changed his position at the last second.

    But apparently, the chief justice has a history of pulling a bait-and-switch, according to CBS News.

    During Roberts' first full term as chief, the Supreme Court heard several controversial cases involving hot-button issues like abortion and school busing.

    Liberals on the court claimed Roberts signaled he would be open to comprise only to side with conservatives.

    "He talks the talk, but won't walk the walk," a liberal said at the time, according to CBS News.

    But conservatives were reportedly just as angry at Roberts for giving liberals false hope.

    "Some people say you would have to go back nearly 70 years to see this kind of tension, and almost bitterness, that now exists among the justices," CBS News reported.

    Check Out What's Gotten Everyone So Angry. Here Are 23 Eye-Opening Quotes From The Supreme Court Obamacare Decision >

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    skiing-snow-stormWill any of the 160 million Americans who receive health insurance from their employers lose that coverage because of the Affordable Care Act?

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republic nominee, has repeatedly challenged the President Obama’s assertion that no one who likes their current plan will lose it. “Up to 20 million Americans . . . will lose the insurance they currently have, the insurance that they like and they want to keep,” he said shortly after the Supreme Court decision upholding the law was announced. The claim is based on a 2011 McKinsey & Co. online survey of 1,329 corporate executives where 9 percent said they would “definitely” drop coverage.

    Former Congressional Budget Office chief Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who now heads the Republican-oriented American Action Forum, went even farther. He claimed during the health care reform debate that the law “provides strong incentives for employers – and their employees – to drop employer-sponsored health insurance for as many as 35 million Americans.”

    His assertion was based on a simple market-based calculation. Since the penalties for failing to cover workers is a relatively puny $2,000 per employee per year – far below the cost of even a bare bones health insurance plan – it will make financial sense for some employers to drop coverage. That will be especially true for employers whose workers earn below 400 percent of the poverty level, who will qualify for subsidies under Obamacare.

    Most health care economists and analysts are far more circumspect in their estimates, however. The Congressional Budget Office said 3 to 5 million people or less than 2 percent of the insured might lose coverage from employers who pack them off to the exchanges for subsidized coverage. CBO labeled a massive disruption to the employer insurance market as “unlikely.”

    Some are optimistic. A Rand study projected more than 13 million people would gain employer-based coverage, citing the tax credits and other incentives offered to small businesses in the reform law. 

    The more optimistic projections are also based on market-based thinking. But the market they find compelling is the labor market. “If coverage in the exchanges is less generous, it will be harder for employers to drop (what they have) because that would put them at a competitive disadvantage,” said Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, a research and consulting group. “Employers want to remain competitive in attracting good people.”

    Employers who provide health insurance consider it a key part of overall compensation packages that are designed to attract and retain workers. Of course, labor markets have become far more advantageous to employers in recent years. Not only is there heightened competition between workers for jobs on the domestic front, many businesses now have the option of moving jobs abroad. A health care costs rose rapidly, as they did until recently, a growing number of employers decided they could dump the benefit without paying a penalty.

    This movement among employers long preceded health care reform. Just 53.5 percent of Americans received health coverage from their employers in 2010, down from 69.8 percent in 2001, according to a recent study by Chapin White and James Reschovsky of the Center for Studying Health System Change.

    The Great Recession accelerated the trend. “Even when employment rebounds to pre-recession levels, a return to previous levels of employer-sponsored health insurance is unlikely,” they wrote. “Well before the start of the recession, a steady decline of employer health coverage was underway with fewer firms offering coverage and fewer workers taking up coverage – likely because of rising health care costs.”

    The erosion of employer-based coverage contributed to the demand for health care reform in the first place. Even McKinsey & Co. said its survey “was not intended as a predictive economic analysis of the impact of the Affordable Care Act. Rather, it captured the attitudes of employers and provided an understanding of the factors that could influence decision making related to employee health benefits.”

    “It’s not what employers would do, it’s what they’d like to do,” said Mendelson. “It was an aspiration, not a reality.”

    There is one state that is bucking the trend of employers abandoning health insurance coverage, however. In Massachusetts, where then Gov. Romney signed the nation’s first far-reaching health care reform law, employer coverage expanded after the reform went into effect and continued through the worst of the recent recession. Between 2007 and 2010, the state went from 72 percent to 77 percent of its employers offering coverage. All of the gains were among firms with 50 or fewer workers, according to the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy.

    “In the one test case we have – Massachusetts – (losing coverage) didn’t happen,” said Deborah Chollet, a health economist at Mathematica Policy Research. “I don’t think it will happen at the federal level because there are no economic arguments for it.

    “If employers have many low wage workers, they’re typically not offering coverage now so there’s no coverage to be lost,” she said. “Those that offer coverage now will still have the same reason to do so – to attract and retain the workforce they want. While there may be some opportunity for fraying, I just don’t see it happening.”

    DON'T MISS: Every parent should know about the scandalous history of baby formula >

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    Chris ChristieNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had a strong reaction Monday to the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act two weeks ago. Referring to the Supreme Court opinion to allow states to opt out of the legislation's Medicaid expansion, Christie said he was "glad that the Supreme Court ruled extortion is still illegal."

    “That's a relief because Obamacare on Medicaid to the states was extortion," Christie said during a discussion at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. on Monday. "Essentially said, 'You expand your program to where we tell you, and if you don’t, we’re taking all the rest of your money away.' Well, that’s extortion! It was in a whole bunch of nice words in a bill, but it was extortion.

    “So, I’m really glad that a majority of the Supreme Court still supports the position — as a former prosecutor — that extortion is still illegal in a country, even when it's done by the President of the United States.”

    Christie, who is often mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney, didn't say whether he would opt out of the Medicaid expansion, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry did on Monday. He said the state would likely wait until January 2013 to decide, since it will only affect the state's 2013 and 2014 fiscal-year budgets.

    The Affordable Care Act would have forced states to provide Medicaid coverage to adults with incomes of up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level or lose federal funding for the program. The Supreme Court's decision leaves it up to states to decide. So far along with Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Mississippi and Louisiana have said they will opt out of the Medicaid expansion — all states with Republican governors.  

    Christie also said that New Jersey has the second-most expensive Medicaid program, and didn't see much room in the budget for an expansion. 

    "How much more do we really need to expand our program?" he said. 

    Now see why Christie could be Romney's VP pick >

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    hospital

    As consumers, we spend so much time searching for errors in the digits and dollar signs on our hospital bills that it's easy to forget some of the worst damage can happen before we even leave the building. 

    "Bad things happen in all hospitals," writes Consumer Reports. "But they happen a lot in some."

    The magazine took it upon itself to see exactly where bad things are occurring the most. The result is a pretty stomach-turning snapshot of safety ratings at more than 1,000 hospitals in 44 states. 

    Researchers honed in on six of the most common safety concerns at hospitalsinfection rates, readmissions, communicating about medications and discharge, chest and abdominal scanning, serious complications, and mortality rates. 

    Apart from patient horror stories, what's truly disturbing about the report is how much data are missing. Not only are hospitals in seven states M.I.A. but Consumer Reports was only able to get its hands on safety data for a mere 18 percent of the nation's hospitals. It wasn't for lack of trying, however. The information simply wasn't out there. 

    “Hospitals that volunteer safety information, regardless of their score, deserve credit, since the first step in safety is accountability,” says John Santa, M.D., director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. “But the fact that consumers can’t get a full picture of most hospitals in the U.S. underscores the need for more public reporting."

    Sacred Heart Hospital in Chicago ranked the lowest, earning 16 out of 100 points and boasting "a rate of bloodstream ­infections that was more than twice the national benchmark." 

    Speaking of infections, the study found only 15 states require hospitals to publicly report surgical site infections and just 82 out of 544 hospitals had zero:

    "Infections linked to central-line catheters may be even more worrisome. They kill up to 16,250 patients a year, research suggests. They’re also almost entirely preventable. Yet 202 hospitals reported infections at rates higher than the benchmark used by the CDC, and only 148 reported zero infections."

    Consumer reports suggests checking out federally-run Hospital Compare, or the independent Leapfrog Group for hospital safety and quality information. On a smaller scale, you can run checks on your regular physician by checking any of these:  ZocDoc; BookOfDoctorsMyDocHub; or your state's department of health. 

    Read the full report here

    Here are the top 10 and bottom 10 hospitals rated: 

     
    ratings
    ratings

    DON'T MISS: 13 health gimmicks you can stop wasting money on >

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    Here's an idea, in one chart, of just how much President Barack Obama will have to overcome to win re-election over Mitt Romney. In a new ABC/Washington Post poll conducted by Langer Research, Obama earns highly negative marks in three crucial areas — the economy, health care and immigration. 

    Take a look:

    Barack Obama poll

    He's down double-digits in all three of these issues — three of the top six, according to the poll. That's despite his recent shift in the administration's immigration policy and despite the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act as constitutional

    The president has seen an uptick from recent events in his favor. The immigration shift is a big hit with swing states. And in this ABC/WaPo poll, support for Obamacare has jumped to a 47-47 split. In just April, voters opposed it by 14 points. 

    Still, voters trust him to handle these issues just about evenly with Romney, if not better than the presumptive Republican nominee. What's also helping Obama are his personal attributes. Voters think he is a stronger leader (by 5 points), better understands the economic problems they're having (by 10 points) and is more likable (by an astounding 36 points). 

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    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney got loud and sustained boos from the audience at the NAACP conference this morning over his suggestion that he would repeal "Obamacare," President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law. 

    Here's where Romney drew boos:

    "I will reduce government spending," Romney said. "Our high level of debt slows GDP growth and that means fewer jobs. If our goal is jobs, we must, must stop spending over a trillion dollars more than we earn. To do this, I will eliminate expensive non-essential programs like Obamacare, and I will work to reform and save Medicare and Social Security, in part by means-testing their benefits." 

    Watch the video below:

    UPDATE, 11:45 a.m.: 

    Gleefully seizing the booing moment, Democrats are already sending around a clip of CNN reporter Jim Acosta talking about Romney's negative reception at the NAACP conference this morning. 

    "I have not heard that kind of sustained booing for Mitt Romney over the course of the campaign," Acosta said. "This was perhaps one of the most negative reactions Mitt Romney has had in the course of his 2012 presidential campaign." 

    Watch the clip below: 

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    As Republicans prepare their 33rd vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.y.) went on a bizarre rant on the House floor Wednesday disparaging Republican efforts. He said Republicans' only health care plan is a "chicken noodle soup" plan, and went all out in his speech, bringing a poster prop of a Campbell's soup label. 

    "I think the Republican plan takes grandma at her word a little too seriously," Crowley said. 

    The kicker: "As a health care policy, it is 'mmm, mmm, bad.'"

    Watch the speech below:

    (H/T Dave Weigel)

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    Mitt Romney's debut in front of the NAACP Wednesday was palpably uncomfortable for both the candidate and the audience — but at least one Democrat thinks that Romney wanted it to be that way.

    In an interview with Bloomberg Television this afternoon, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she thinks that the audience's hostile reception of Romney was actually part of the candidate's plan all along.

    "It was a calculated move on his part to get booed at the NAACP convention," Pelosi told Bloomberg's Peter Cook. 

    Watch the full interview with Pelosi below, courtesy of Bloomberg TV: 

    As Cook points out in the interview, the boos were in response to Romney's pledge to repeal President Obama's signature healthcare legislation. In an appearance on Fox News this afternoon, Romney said that he "expected" a negative reaction to the statement, but that he is "going to give the same message to the NAACP that I give across the country, which is that Obamacare is killing jobs."

    Regardless of whether the response was "calculated," it is definitely possible that, despite the awkwardness, Romney's NAACP will help him in the long run. By appearing in front of an audience that is largely in his opponent's corner, Romney showed voters that he is able to stand behind his policies, even while reaching out to groups who don't agree.

    Click here to see Romney's onstage reaction to the NAACP boos > 


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    Healthchare Law, ObamacareOn the subject of the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare, to reclaim the name critics have made into a slur — a number of fallacies seem to be congealing into accepted wisdom. Much of this is the result of unrelenting Republican propaganda and right-wing punditry, but it has gone largely unchallenged by gun-shy Democrats. The result is that voters are confronted with slogans and side issues — “It’s a tax!” “No, it’s a penalty!” — rather than a reality-based discussion. Let’s unpack a few of the most persistent myths.

    Read the rest at the New York Times >

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    mri kneeBill Keller used his NYT column today outline a series of myths about President Obama's health care plan. At one point he tells readers:

    "I’m a pretty devout capitalist, and I see that in some cases individual responsibility helps contain wasteful spending on health care. If you have to share the cost of that extra M.R.I. or elective surgery, you’ll think hard about whether you really need it."

    The irony here is that under the current system it is government intervention that makes "the cost of that extra M.R.I." expensive. The direct cost of an M.R.I., the electricity, the time of technicians to run the machine and the time of a doctor to read the results are relatively low. The machine itself however is expensive, because of government granted patent monopolies.

    If M.R.I.s were sold in a free market, where anyone could copy the technology and sell an M.R.I. device for whatever the market would bear, then the cost of M.R.I. tests would not be a major issue.

    Read more posts on CEPR »

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    Clarence Thomas

    The Supreme Court justices are saying they'll get along just fine when the new term starts despite  sharp division over Obamacare and rumors of high-court leakers.

    The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to mostly uphold Obamacare created tension at the nation's highest court, several justices acknowledged in a Monday article in the National Law Journal, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

    But, according to justices, the Roberts court is unusually collegial and prioritizes the work at hand over personal disagreements.

    "Everyone here does have the sense the institution is so much more important than the nine who are here at any point in time and we should not do anything to leave it in worse shape than it was in when we came on board," one justice told the NLJ.

    And another justice couldn't imagine anybody on the highest court would hold a grudge.

    "Who on the Court is the sort of person who is going to carry a grudge? Nino Scalia isn't going to carry a grudge," that justice said. "Clarence Thomas is going to pat you on the back and give you a hearty laugh all the time. That's a big part of it."

    DON'T MISS: Nearly Half The Country Has No Clue What Happened With Obamacare >

     

     

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    john roberts

    Consider Chief Justice John Roberts officially a liberal hero and conservative enemy. 

    A new Gallup poll displays the unprecedented swing in opinion since Roberts was confirmed as Chief Justice in 2005 to today, where he's a little less than a month removed from a controversial opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act as constitutional

    Mainly, the shift is based on partisan differences after the "Obamacare" decision, which produced a reaction split along ideological lines. Democrats now view him in a heavily favorable light. Republicans? Heavily unfavorable.

    Overall, there's more of a shift toward an unfavorable rating: 

    Gallup John Roberts

    Republicans have a huge 80-point collective swing. Democrats, on the other hand, view Roberts 19 points more favorably and 12 points less favorably. 

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    Republicans

    In the aftermath of last month's Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have made it clear that they have no plans to give up their fight to repeal President Barack Obama's signature health care law. 

    What is often lost in the discussion about Obamacare is how the law will affect members of Congress, who enjoy famously cushy benefits plans administered by the federal government. 

    We asked around Washington to try and get some answers about how members of Congress stand to benefit/suffer if the law is upheld or repealed— and what we found was a little surprising. 

    Many of the special benefits afforded in Congress' federally-administered healthcare plans are actually included in the Obamacare legislation. But while Republicans are ready to repeal those benefits for rank-and-file voters, they aren't quite willing to give them up for themselves.

    Under the Affordable Care Act, members of Congress will no longer be allowed to remain on their current healthcare plans.

    Section 1312 of the law spells this out: 

    "[T]he only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are, (1) created under this act; or (2) offered through an exchange established under this act.” 

    The provision was included by Republican Senators Tom Coburn (OK) and David Vitter (LA), two adamant opponents of the healthcare bill, as a way of forcing the then-Democratic-led Congress to reap what it sowed.

    According to a 2010 report from the Congressional Research Service, the language of Section 1312 means that, once Obamacare is fully implemented, members of Congress will not be allowed to enroll in healthcare plans administered by the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, and will instead be required to join the state- and federally-run health insurance exchanges when they are set up in 2014. 

    The FEHBP plans are actually relatively similar to healthcare plans offered in the private sector, with a few key distinctions:

    • Federal employees can choose from 206 different plan options, offering a national network of doctors and a variety of services. Taxpayers pick up 75 percent of the premium cost. In contrast, about 85 percent of private-sector companies offer employees only one option for healthcare coverage. 
    • While the FEHBP plans are run by private insurers, the OPM does set minimum coverage requirements for the plans. 
    • Insurers offering plans under the FEHBP are prohibited from excluding federal employees and their dependents from coverage based on pre-existing conditions, or from altering rates based on age or gender. 
    • For an additional fee, members of Congress (but not their dependents) can get care from the on-site Attending Physician, and be treated at military hospitals in the D.C. area. 

    The Department of Health and Human Services has not yet issued rules on exchanges for members of Congress, so it is impossible to accurately determine the changes to their benefits. (A spokesman from Sen. Coburn's office told BI that members of Congress will still be able to access care from the Attending Physician and military hospitals.)

    But the Affordable Care Act actually requires all health insurance plans to provide many of the benefits already provided by the FEHBP plans, including a minimum standard of coverage, and ban on denying coverage or altering rates based on age, gender, or pre-existing condition. 

    Although these provisions are popular among Americans, House Republicans have said that they will repeal them, along with the rest the Affordable Care Act. But they aren't willing to give up their own sweet healthcare deal. 

    During last week's House vote to repeal Obamacare, Republicans voted against a measure that would have forced members of Congress to give up their FEHBP plans. 

    "If Republicans want to take those protections away, then Republicans should lose those protections as well," Nadeam Eishami, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), told Business Insider. "They twisted themselves into pretzels trying to explain it, but you can't really explain that to your constituents — it's hard to tell the mother of a child with diabetes that you are going to take away healthcare for her kid, and at the same time vote to protect your own healthcare." 

    A spokesperson for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) would not comment specifically on the amendment. 

    To be sure, the Democrats' amendment — like the repeal vote itself — was entirely politically motivated. 

    "It's not like we would have voted for repeal if they passed it," Eishami told Business Insider.

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    While he wouldn't directly address the Supreme Court's controversial health care ruling, Justice Antonin Scalia had some pretty harsh words for anyone who thinks the high court is divided along political lines.

    "We are not a political institution. I don't think any of my colleagues on any cases vote the way they do for political reasons," Scalia said Wednesday night when he appeared on "Piers Morgan Tonight," adding that "it offends" him to hear people criticizing the justices for their ruling.

    The conservative justice, who co-authored a brutal dissent on the court's health care opinion, wouldn't speak about any current cases, such as health care, immigration, or gay marriage.

    But he did talk about the controversial Bush v. Gore decision, the still hotly debated 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision, and the death penalty.

    "Get over it," Scalia reportedly said of Gore supporters who are convinced the court wrongly favored Bush. "He [Gore] would have lost anyway if all the ballots were recounted."

    On the issue of abortion, Scalia told Morgan it was a state issue and the 1973 decision should be overturned, adding that the court isn't helping the country by staying involved in the abortion debate, according to CNN

    The same goes for capital punishment, according to the conservative justice.

    "If you don't like the death penalty, fine, change the law," Scalia told Morgan. "I'm not 'pro' death penalty, I'm 'anti' the idea that is not ultimately a democratic choice."

    Watch the full interview, courtesy of CNN:

    DON'T MISS: This Supreme Court Is The Most Bitter And Divided It's Been In 70 Years >

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    mcdonalds monopoly

    Retailers and restaurants have made a big deal about Obamacare,

    National Restaurant Association CEO Dawn Sweeney even went so far to say that Obamacare may "threaten their very business" because of the cost pressures involved.

    But for fast food titan McDonald's, Obamacare is no worse than a swing in commodity costs.

    McDonald's is exposed to big cost pressures every year from factors that it can't control, and despite that, it always seems to power through and maintain its dominance.

    Here's what a McDonald's representative had to say about the Obamacare changes that may hit in 2014 in the company's Q2 earnings call this morning:

    "Our current estimate is healthcare is going to impact, in each individual restaurant, in the range of $10,000 to $30,000.

    "I will tell you that we are significantly increasing now that the Supreme Court has ruled increasing our conversation and disclosures with franchisees around what does this mean for brand McDonald’s. So that they can be as educated as possible around what’s happening, so that they can start to anticipate and make any changes if they have to try to minimize the impact of this.

    "On just a dollar basis that $10,000 to $30,000, we have the years like last year where commodity cost increases were even greater than that. So while it is a significant item and it’s gaining a lot of attention as the [profit and loss] item we have managed through items of this magnitude in the past. and I’m hopeful we can do that in future."

    NOW SEE: The Most Popular Fast Food Restaurants In America [RANKED]

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    The Congressional Budget Office produced two reports on Obama Care yesterday. The first (A - Link) did an analysis of what the cost would be if we just junked the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The second (B - Link) looked at the consequences to ACA as a result of the recent Supreme Court decision.

    A

    The House has recently put forward a bill to scrap almost all of ACA. This legislation is not going anywhere, it’s just a “show pony” for Republicans, so they can say they voted to repeal an unpopular law. The CBO is required to review all legislation, even if if it has not a ghost of a chance of passing

    The CBO concluded that repeal would cost (increase deficit by) $109Bn over ten-years. This number assumes that government spending would actually decline by $890Bn, but the government would collect $1trillion less in revenue. 

    B

    When Justice Roberts made his now famous opinion that affirmed the constitutionality of ACA, he also made two important changes. He said that the government could not force a citizen to pay a penalty, but it could levy a tax, and he said that States could not be forced to provide Medicaid to those who did not have health care insurance.

    The decision by Roberts does change the economics of ACA. The CBO concluded that 4 million people would not have access to health coverage as a result of the Medicaid “opt out” that the States now have. The reduction in the number of people covered translate to “savings” that amount to $84Bn over ten years. 

    Of course this is not really saving anyone a dime. ACA is going to cost a bundle. Post the Supremes decision, the CBO has concluded that ACA will cost a net of $1,168Bn over ten years. ACA will have expenses of 1,683Bn but will generate revenues of $514Bn to produce that net cost of $1.2 Trillion.

    So we are screwed if we get rid of ACA, we are screwed 10Xs worse if ACA is kept alive. 

    What do we get for the $1.2Tn? The answer the politicians will tell you is that the country will finally have universal health coverage for everyone. But that is not true at all. ACA does widen the access to healthcare to millions of additional people, but it falls well short of the stated goals.

    The CBO has concluded that as a result of ACA, the number of people today who do not have access to healthcare will fall from 53m to 30m over the next ten years. While the 46 percent reduction in uninsured is admirable, it still is a far cry away from what this law has been sold as. America will still have 10 percent of its population uninsured. 

    Estimate of Affordable Care Act

    The CBO is only allowed to review “Current Law”. ACA must be reworked to reflect the ruling by Roberts that the government can’t charge a penalty for not participating in ACA. The Supremes determined that the penalties must be in the form of a tax for it to be legal. 

    At some point, lawmakers have to get together and rework the critical language and convert what was once a “penalty” into a tax. I suspect that this is going to be a big problem post the November election.

    It’s very important to look at who will be paying these penalties/taxes. The numbers are huge. The following looks at who is going to be paying to make ACA a reality:

    Budgetary Effects

    - $172Bn (15 percent of the total cost) is coming from those “penalties” that somehow are going to be converted into a tax. I think the country will see just a fraction of this amount actually collected.

    - 10 percent of the cost ($111Bn) will come from people who have “Cadillac” insurance plans. So if you’re working for a company that has good health plan today, get ready to pay some extra bucks. 

    - Fully 20 percent ($231Bn) of the cost of ACA is coming from high-income earners. They will pay more income tax to subsidize the new law.

    The bottom line on ACA is that it will increase the deficit by $1.3Tn, it results in tax increases of $514Bn and it covers less than half of the uninsured today. That is called success in Washington. Me? I call it a disaster.

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    0 0

    This video of a six-year-old reciting ten Tea Party-esque criticisms of Obama just popped up on the Web and we're still trying to wrap our heads around it.

    According to the video's description on The Patriot Update, the boy in the video is Isaac Anthony, a "conservative six-year-old who knows where he stands on political issues and the upcoming Presidential election."

    Among Isaac's complaints against the President is that he "lets bad guys into our country" and "bows down to leaders from other countries."

    To give some context to the video, The Patriot Update touts itself as "a free press for the Conservative revolution." Recent articles on the site include "US Main Stream News Agencies Are Controlled By Communists" and "Chick-Fil-A Attacks: The Hypocrisy of Left Wing Bullies."

    Seems like there is a trend going around of using cute little kids to attack Obama.

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