Here’s the story from WIUS, the NPR affiliate at the University of Illinois Springfield:
A health exchange is one of the main initial components of the Affordable Care Act.
It’s basically a table of insurance plans people who don’t currently have coverage could choose from once the national health care law hits its stride. If it ever does.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in March challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare.
“I’ve suspended the talks on the Illinois insurance exchange until the Supreme Court makes its decision, which we expect in June,” Rep. Frank Mautino (D- Spring Valley), who has been leading Illinois’ talks to set up the exchange, said.
“As the negotiator, it’s very difficult to have … businesses – decide how much they’re willing to pay to run an exchange, when the federal law may go away. So I’ve lost a lot of the strength of negotiation,” he said.
Controversial aspects include who’ll run the exchange, how much power insurance companies will get, and who’ll pay for it.
About 50 organizations, including insurance companies, business groups, and health care advocates had been meeting weekly.
Audio is also available here.
Democrats control the executive and legislative branches of government in Illinois.
(This blog post first appeared at Cato@Liberty following the release of the 2006 Medicare and Social Security trustees’ reports. I repost it, with updated links and “exhaustion dates” because sadly nothing else has changed.)
Sometimes, Governments Lie
Year after year, federal officials speak of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds as if they were real. Yesterday Today, the government announced that the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2040 2033 and that the Medicare hospital insurance trust fund will be exhausted in 2018 2024— projections that the media dutifully reported.
But those dates are meaningless, because there are no assets for these “trust funds” to exhaust. The Bush administration wrote in its FY2007 budget proposal:
These balances are available to finance future benefit payments and other trust fund expenditures — but only in a bookkeeping sense. These funds…are not assets…that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits…When trust fund holdings are redeemed to pay benefits, Treasury will have to finance the expenditure in the same way as any other Federal expenditure: out of current receipts, by borrowing from the public, or by reducing benefits or other expenditures. The existence of large trust fund balances, therefore, does not, by itself, increase the Government’s ability to pay benefits.
This is similar to language in the Clinton administration’s FY2000 budget, which noted that the size of the trust fund “does not…have any impact on the Government’s ability to pay benefits” (emphasis added).
I offer the following proposition:
If the government knows that there are no assets in the Social Security and Medicare “trust funds,” and yet projects the interest earned on those non‐assets and the date on which those non‐assets will be exhausted, then the government is lying.
If that’s the case, then these annual trustees reports constitute an institutionalized, ritualistic lie. Also ritualistic is the media’s uncritical repetition of the lie.
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Alan Blinder writes one of the most error‐ridden and discourse‐debasing op‐eds I have ever read. About any topic. Ever.
[O]ur country was founded on the idea that the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable. Access to affordable health care is surely essential to two of these three rights, maybe to all three.
This is absurd. Does Blinder really mean to say that until about a hundred years ago, when modern medicine really began, the lack of access to affordable health care alienated every single human being to walk the Earth from their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
I wish people would think — long and hard — before they write about health care. Especially the smart ones.
Conservatives like John Graham of the Pacific Research Institute have also been touring states with the platform provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council to help kill off state‐based exchanges, a key piece of health reform that will help millions of people purchase insurance coverage — often with federal subsidies — starting in 2014.
“Our approach has to be absolute noncollaboration, civil disobedience — well, not civil disobedience but resistance … by whatever means,” said Graham.
Two years into the law’s implementation, conservative emissaries have contributed to impressive stats. Almost all red states are holding off on exchange legislation at least until the Supreme Court decides on the Affordable Care Act, and in most of those states, exchange‐building legislation has crawled to a stop.
I have to point out three problems with the story, though. First, the Cato Institute and I are libertarian, not conservative.
Second, the article identifies Cato, ALEC, and AFP as being “funded partly by the Koch brothers.” Even though these groups have no direct or indirect financial interest in this issue, and even though Cato currently receives no funding from the Kochs, and even though Cato is currently fighting a hostile takeover attempt by the Kochs, I guess that’s a fair categorization. What isn’t fair is how the article fails to disclose that Leavitt Partners has a direct financial interest in this issue: Leavitt is getting paid by states to help implement Exchanges. (See “Health Exchanges: A New Gold Mine,” Politico, June 27, 2011.) It would have been nice if the article mentioned that all the moneyed interests – including health insurance carriers and many Chambers of Commerce – are on the pro‐Exchange side. But it at least should have mentioned Leavitt’s financial interest.
Third, I’m not sure what basis there is for saying “most legal experts think” the federal government can offer tax credits and subsidies in federal Exchanges. My co‐author Jonathan Adler and I have been following that debate closely. Only a handful of scholars have even commented on the issue, and they are fairly evenly split. If I’m unaware of others who have weighed in, I’d like to hear about them.
Charles Kolb is president of the Committee for Economic Development and was a domestic policy adviser to Bush the Elder. Over at Huffington Post, he articulates why (he thinks) the Constitution’s Commerce Clause empowers Congress to force people to purchase health insurance, but not broccoli. That is to say, he offers (what he thinks is) a limiting principle that (he thinks) would enable the Supreme Court to uphold ObamaCare’s individual mandate, but still leave some constraints on Congress’s ability to force people to buy things. Like broccoli.
Yet Kolb’s proposed limiting principle is no more a limiting principle than Harvard law professor Noah Feldman’s proposed limiting principle, because the two make the same argument. Almost verbatim. So rather than regurgitate my response to Feldman, I’ll just link to it.
Okay, I’ll regurgitate this part:
Like every other so‐called limiting principle offered by ObamaCare’s defenders, Feldman’s[/Kolb’s] has no basis in the Constitution or any other law. It is a post hoc rationalization, made by people who are shocked to find themselves before the Supreme Court, defending the constitutionality of their desire to bully others into submission.