Bias: Concord Monitor burying the lede on Trump’s action on Obamacare?

by Skip


The headline over the weekend on a post about Obamacare:

Trump’s blow to Obamacare jolts health consumers, politics

President Donald Trump’s abrupt move to cut off federal payments to insurers jolted America’s health care and political worlds alike on Friday, threatening to boost premiums for millions, disrupt insurance markets and shove Republicans into a renewed civil war over their efforts to shred Obamacare.

Defiant Democrats, convinced they have important leverage, promised to press for a bipartisan deal to restore the money by year’s end. That drive could split the GOP. On one side: pragmatists seeking to avoid political damage from hurting consumers. On the other: conservatives demanding a major weakening of the Affordable Care Act as the price for returning the money.

The American people will know exactly where to place the blame,” declared Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., all but daring Trump to aggravate what could be a major issue in the 2018 congressional elections.

Makes it sound that Trump just decided, on a whim, just lashed out against Obamacare and that ONLY Democrats can ride over the crest of the hill to save the day, right?  Hey, why is Pravda on the Merrimack all that surprised – or complicit?

He campaigned against Obamacare, got elected by being against it, and now is getting rid of this Socialist / Progressive Totalitarian precursor to single payer (you, too, could be on a VA-style secret wait list to die – it’s what single payer systems do!). Now, the piece is from the Associated Press but birds of a feather, eh?

Now, these AP pieces can be, and often are, edited and the Fishwrap could have executed editorial control and actually said the actual reason why Trump SHOULD have stopped the payments?  Hahahahaha!  Of COURSE not!  Instead, they soft-pedaled it – but not until paragraph 15:

A federal judge has found that Congress never properly approved the payments. The subsidies have continued under Obama and Trump until now, despite prior Trump threats to block them.

Schumer told reporters that Trump’s “threats and bullying are not going to work.” He said he saw a good chance of forcing money for the cost sharing reductions into a massive spending bill Congress is expected to approve late this year.

Approved? Only approved?  How about the word that is the linchpin of the whole reason: Appropriated. Like this piece (emphasis mine):

Democrats attack Trump for obeying a federal judge’s court order

So much for the Democrats’ professed respect for the rule of law.

Late Thursday President Trump announced he plans on stopping the Obama subsidy payments to insurance companies. The reason for the stoppage was a May 2016 federal court ruling that the payments were unconstitutional. In her ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer wrote that then-President Obama and his administration ignored constitutional limits on executive authority and congressional control of the purse strings.

Sure, the Obamacare law allowed for payments to be made but Congress never approved appropriated the money to carry it out.  Obama, under his “if Congress won’t act and I’ve got a pen and a phone” schtick decided to go Monarchy and told the US Treasury, contra the Constitution’s forbiding of such action, to pay the insurance companies anyways.  The Congress brought suit (and rightfully so, for once).

No, the Concord Monitor didn’t just miss a chance to report the news correctly – they decided to IGNORE it and toe the Democrat line.

Fair and balanced?  No, I wouldn’t expect that from them.  However, for all of their preachiness on what is right and wrong (from the Progressive line), one should expect that they’d at least report the facts.

And they wonder why we Normals hate the MSM?

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  • Moe Ferrel

    ““The American people will know exactly where to place the blame,” declared Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., all but daring Trump to aggravate what could be a major issue in the 2018 congressional elections.”

    Yes they’ll know who to blame. They already know, DEMOCRATS, LIBERALS, PROGRESSIVES, and SOCIALISTS, that’s who. If the Crats had only left our healthcare system alone it would be fine today. Wipe out Obamacare and repeal the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act and the cost of healthcare will drop to reasonable levels and everyone will be happy. Get the damn Feds completely out of healthcare.

  • For what it’s worth, we had the same one-sided AP article in our local rag, Foster’s Daily Democrat. I was irritated too.

  • magellannh

    While it maybe that the PAYMENTS are illegal (one court has ruled they are, but it’s on appeal), there’s actually not any question about whether the government has an OBLIGATION to make the payments.

    This is like if you were acting crazy, refused to pay your mortgage, and a friend wrote the check for you and signed your name on it. The check is clearly illegal and any court would likely agree and tell the bank to return the money to your checking account. However, the court ruling wouldn’t change the fact that you still owe the mortgage company.

    If this plays out the same way the risk corridor subsidies did, what will eventually happen is that the US Court of Federal Claims will rule that the payments are in fact owed by the government and must be made. Instead of relying on a special congressional appropriation, the payment will be made out of a judgement fund that congress has already made an appropriation for to handle court ordered payments to cover unpaid obligations of the US government.

    The key is that a congressional refusal to appropriate funds to pay a US government obligation doesn’t eliminate the obligation.

    This article has some details of how this will likely play out:

    • granitegrok

      “While it maybe that the PAYMENTS are illegal (one court has ruled they are, but it’s on appeal), ”

      And the DOJ has said that it doesn’t have the legal grounds to fight it – Congress has won the suit on Constitutional grounds. End of story.

      Your mortgage check analogy is valid because Obama wrote the checks and not Congress – thus they are illegal. Trump followed Obama’s example but no longer.

      Federal Claims Court doesn’t have standing in this – this is STRICTLY a Constitutional issue and if the DOJ hadn’t bowed, it would have gone to the Supremes where a clear reading of the plain text would be validated (which means the Democrat State AGs are going to fail as well).

      The Executive branch cannot spend what the Legislative branch doesn’t appropriate. The Founders’ checks and balances system has worked again. Your “obligation” is about as valid as all the other Obama E.O.s that were shot down as unConstitutional.

      • magellannh

        First, even though DOJ bowed out on the appeal, the court has agreed to let state AG’s continue with the appeal. This is already decided and the appeal is ongoing now. As best I can tell, it seems that congress’ case is likely to be lost on appeal. Interestingly, most lawyers seem to think it’ll be lost not on the merits, but on the question of whether congress had standing to bring the case originally. The judge’s ruling on the standing question apparently went against a lot of previous case law.

        Re: “Federal Claims Court doesn’t have standing in this – this is STRICTLY a Constitutional issue and if the DOJ hadn’t bowed”

        You’ve got this wrong. Courts don’t need standing, plaintiffs do. The insurance companies, as the aggrieved parties, definitely have standard to bring an action against the government for non-payment of an obligation.

        You’re hung up on the illegal payments, but that’s really just a side show or detour. The ruling over whether the payments are illegal doesn’t have any bearing on whether the US Government obligation exists.

  • magellannh

    The thing that isn’t getting reported much is that Trump’s order is actually going to have very little impact in most states, including New Hampshire.

    This is complicated, but stay with me. First, let’s assume that the cost sharing subsidy reimbursements to insurers are illegal and are never ever paid. This is unlikely (see my other post), but let’s just go with this assumption.

    Most state insurance regulators, including New Hampshire’s, are telling insurers to make up for the lost cost sharing subsidy reimbursements by only raising premiums on silver plans. Premiums on bronze and gold plans, which aren’t eligible for the cost sharing subsidies, won’t be affected by the premium increases.
    (scroll down to map to see how each state will handle loss of CSRs)

    So that means that anyone who’s unsubsidized and would have to pay the increased premium (eg higher income folks) can avoid the mess just by purchasing a plan with a different metal level.

    One odd side effect of this is that people earning between 250% and 400% of FPL may actually get bigger subsidies and get a windfall from Trump’s action that saves them an extra 20% on their insurance. The reason for this is that the premium tax credit amount is tied to the cost of the second lowest silver plan. Assuming the second lowest cost silver plan premium increases by 20%, folks could purchase a gold or bronze plan that is shielded from the cost sharing subsidy increase and still get a 20% bigger premium tax credit.

    I think this is why the CBO says the move increases the deficit. Basically, the feds still have to indirectly pay the cost sharing subsidies, but in the form of premium tax credits. In addition, the feds will pay an extra $6b in excess premium tax credit subsidies. These extra subsidies are just an incidental windfall for people who choose non-silver plans and are eligible of premium tax credits.

    • granitegrok

      Doesn’t matter – the most important issue is the Constitutional one of Who gets to spend the money and Who gets to say how much money is to be spent. The Legislature said no money is to be spent – the Executive branch can’t spend what it doesn’t have.

      • magellannh

        What doesn’t matter? The above post is about how this could play out assuming that the cost sharing subsidy reimbursements stay halted forever.

        Their are two different subsidies under ACA. The conflict is over the cost sharing subsidies, which is one of the subsidy types. The other subsidy is the Premium tax credit subsidy and this is not controversial or at all in question. That subsidy will continue to be paid. The Premium Tax Credit subsidy is tied to how big premiums are. If premiums increase, the tax credit subsidy increases by just as much.

        What’s going to happen is that the (legal) premium tax credit subsidies are going to increase by enough to completely reimburse the cost of the (illegal) cost sharing subsidies. In addition, some people are actually going to get an extra 20% off the cost of their bronze or gold plan premiums because of a quirk in how their premium tax credit subsidies are calculated.

        What I described above is how things will play out if the cost sharing subsidies remain stopped and there’s no further litigation or congressional action to get the payments resumed.

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