The GOP’s Tiny Obamacare ‘Ransom’

Hoping to defund or delay health care reform, Republicans got almost nothing

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Carolyn Kaster / AP

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to the Senate floor after agreeing to the framework of a deal to avoid default and reopen the government.

An end to the government shutdown was within sight Wednesday night, and it was hard to see how Republicans could come out looking victorious. Originally demanding a gutting of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, they repeatedly scaled back to more modest goals, and the Senate deal to resolve the standoff includes almost none of their Obamacare demands.

Almost.

The one concession granted Republicans involves income verification requirements for people receiving subsidies to purchase health insurance under the law. In the absence of a final agreement in Congress, details on the deal are scant, but basically the provision is an anti-fraud measure designed to prevent someone whose income is too high to qualify for an insurance subsidy from cheating the system and getting a subsidy anyway. The new provision requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to certify that income verification systems are in place and working properly so that only truly eligible people get subsidies. An inspector general would then be required to produce a report affirming that the program is working properly.

The change is modest at best and is, in some ways, hardly a concession. Verification systems were always part of the law, implementation of them was just delayed in favor of what the White House deemed to be more pressing matters.

“If it is what I think it is, it is a benign change,” Henry Aaron, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told TIME. Aaron said the federal government, in implementing the Affordable Care Act, had simply narrowed down its “to-do list” to essential items, and strengthening income verification systems was placed on the back burner.

“I have no doubt that they always wanted to tighten verification and always planned to do so, once they had gotten the ‘we have to get this right NOW’ items dealt with,” Aaron said. “So, if I am reading things right, this was a really easy ‘concession’ to give—‘we were planning to do this later, in any event; if it means so much to you, we’ll do it now.’ “

Even so, last month Obama threatened to veto a similar measure, and if the White House was planning to address the issue it would have preferred to do so later, once Obamacare is more firmly in place. But White House spokesman Jay Carney rejected the idea Wednesday that the income verification concession amounted to paying a “ransom” to the GOP, something he had pledged not to do.

“We have always said we are willing to make improvements and adjustments to the law,” Carney said. “Ransom would be a wholly different thing.”

16 comments
Fukushima
Fukushima

wonder why young adults are so fascinated by the idea of insuring for everyone by their higher premium. You see, if you insure for yourself then you are able to take advantage of no-claims, healthy lifestyle, no previous accident record etc. But here you are in fact buying insurance for everyone else NOW. That your children will buy insurance for you when you get old is only a promise. Who knows that might work or not. In any case, insurance can only work for catastrophic events, and not for everyday medical issues like in the US. Read this article. http://liberalcolumns.com/obamacare-skirts-the-real-reason-behind-health-insurance-mess/

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

Is it ever a good idea to negotiate with terrorists?

jmac
jmac

How much money did McConnell get for that Ohio bridge?   The one that connects to Kentucky.  There were some sweetheart things thrown in.  

The bridge to McConnell's reelection?

TerryConklin
TerryConklin

The tiny change is not enough but it is a good feature. Obamacare has as one of its goals to put as many Americans on the dole as possible. Not just the "poverty level" poor but four times that level. All those who receive from the taxpayers are added to that now infamous 47% that the Romney clown ruled out as agents of change. Those voters are solid takers and will support their lords in office who keep them in that role.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

At the time, Jay Carney was responding to what was only certainly going to be page one of the demands.  And as we saw in 2011, once you agree to page one, they hand you page two.  And so on.  Last time, Obama agreed to page one and two and still went to the brink on page 3 with several concessions on that page.  This time, Obama's giving them a few items from page one after they effectively forced the Tea Party to admit to Page 3 on national TV.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

Cost the economy 26 Billion dollars to get something that they were going to get anyway. 

Yes. yes the republicans are the party of fiscal seriousness. 

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

"Even so, last month Obama threatened to veto a similar measure"


Because he wanted to have a chit to play? Seems smart to keep it in his pocket. 

Urbanitus
Urbanitus

@TerryConklin Do you drive on public streets?  Do you drink treated water?  Do you benefit from the security provided by our armed forces?  Congratulations, you are among "all those who receive from the taxpayers," and by your definition, you are on the dole.  

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@TerryConklin That would be the end result of 30 years of Voodoo trickle down economics. Except their vision for most Americans would be serfdom.

jsfox
jsfox

@TerryConklin No it's goal is to get as many people insured as possible and to start to bend the healthcare cost curve downward. Now you want somehting that will work better then support single payer.

anon76
anon76

@MrObvious 

Charlie Sheen is spinning in his tiger blood-filled bathtub.

TerryConklin
TerryConklin

@Urbanitus @TerryConklin For the federal functions you mentioned, i.e. Armed forces and interstate highways I am a taxpayer and a serious one. I am not o the dole as you suggest. The 47% and growing group do not pay taxes because of their low income and receive those same benefits. My problem is with the effort to increase that group (4X poverty level in ACA to get subsidized). People who GET subsidized don't have the same view of the world as those of us who PAY the subsidies. 

TerryConklin
TerryConklin

@mantisdragon91 @TerryConklin It has been far more than 30 years but I get  your point, I think. Ever since SS was invented, Americans thought their retirement was taken care of. Ever since Medicare was invented, retirement health care was "assured". And sadly, ever since they invented "plastic money", saving was forgotten. Our government, both Democratic and Republican has been bitten by that same snake. The debt ceiling fiasco is not really about that limit since it does nothing. It is about the overspending habits we have grown to think is a normal behavior. When the government gets its act together then the people can rise but I am not too hopeful. 

.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@jsfox @TerryConklin Don't confuse him. First he'll insist that having insurance is being on the dole then he'll scream bloody murder because he's being forced to pay for his own health care.