It’s a sad sign of our times that the constitutionality of any given government action is now seen as a wholly secondary consideration, subordinate to politics and arguments about politics. And so it is with Donald Trump’s necessary decision to halt federal payments of cost-sharing subsidies to insurance companies.
For example, here’s how the Washington Post led off its coverage of Trump’s decision: “President Trump is throwing a bomb into the insurance marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act, choosing to end critical payments to health insurers that help millions of lower-income Americans afford coverage.”
The New York Times headlined its article with the declaration “Trump to scrap critical health care subsidies, hitting Obamacare again.” But that’s not exactly right. In reality, the Constitution scraps Obama’s subsidies. They were never lawful because Congress never appropriated the money.
Here’s the legal background. Section 1402 of Obamacare requires insurance companies to reduce deductibles, copayments, and other similar payments for lower-income consumers and then says that the federal government will reimburse the insurers for their losses. Specifically, insurers will notify the federal government of the amount of their price reductions, and the government will “make periodic and timely payments to the insurer equal to the value of the reductions.”
Clear enough? There was just one problem. Unlike other provisions of Obamacare covering other forms of subsidies (for example, Section 1401, which funded subsidies that helped cover insurance premiums), the law didn’t specifically appropriate any money to fund these payments.
This isn’t a small thing. In fact, it implicates the core constitutional structure of our government. Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution unambiguously declares that “no Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by law.” The most relevant federal appropriations statute states quite clearly that “a law may be construed to make an appropriation out of the Treasury . . . only if the law specifically states that an appropriation is made.”
In fact, there is unmistakeable evidence that President Obama knew that his administration needed a specific appropriation to fund Section 1402 subsidies — he asked Congress for the money. Congress said no. It didn’t appropriate a single dime. So Obama did what he did best: He “penned and phoned” the subsidies into existence. He directly violated the Constitution by spending the money anyway.
The House of Representatives sued, and on May 12, 2016, federal district court judge Rosemary Collyer ruled in the House’s favor and held that the Obama administration’s payments were unlawful. Her opinion reads like a 38-page civics lesson, but for all its length the court’s core holding is simple: “The Affordable Care Act unambiguously appropriates money for Section 1401 premium tax credits but not for Section 1402 reimbursements to insurers. Such an appropriation cannot be inferred.”
Obamacare is collapsing without illegal, unconstitutional funds. This is not Trump’s fault and it isn’t the Republican’s fault; it’s Obama’s fault.
However, now the jig is up. Republicans had best get off their asses and enact their correct measures. Forget the Democrats; they are too invested in the LEGACY; they don’t care about how effective the law is, they just care about taking credit for it and pretending it benefits people. This is exactly how it was conceived and enacted in the first place.
There’s nothing unconstitutional about the subsidies. The Supreme Court—which is constitutionally empowered to make such determinations—upheld their lawfulness.
The fact that you believe some bullshit meme repeatedly spoon fed to you by lying right-wing propagandists does not transmute it into a truth. If you think it does, you’re simply being duped.
@Greg: Congress spends money, not socialists with Executive Orders.
Insurance premiums have gone up, health care costs have gone up, despite the steady infusion of taxpayer funds, Obamacare is imploding… like everyone (not a liberal) said it would. Trump is smart and knows better than to keep throwing money down a black hole that only has failure at the bottom; he’s actually been responsible for his own money before.
Try doing things legally next time; it’ll last longer.
Many of us hoped we would get our cancelled policies back and each time the agenda driven SCOTUS took it upon them selves to rewrite it
Writing legislation is not in their appointed powers, never was.
Next how about not stealing tax refunds because we wont buy a crappy policy
Imploding? Because Trump tells you so in a Twitter post?
People should tell him to leave the Affordable Care Act the hell alone, and then we’ll see if it “implodes” or not. He won’t have demonstrated this when it can be pointed out to all the world that he was seen planting dynamite charges.
Alternately, republicans could come up with something better as a replacement—and they will never have a better opportunity to demonstrate they can do so than the opportunity they’re squandering at present.
People—and that includes Trump—should also shut their ignorant yaps about Obama’s imaginary rule by executive order. Obama issued the lowest number of executive orders since Grover Cleveland. No American president has issued fewer than Obama did in the past 120 years. And that’s a fact.
Trump, on the other hand, is presently on course to set a modern record for cranking the things out like a running mimeograph machine.
The Congressional Budget Office projected this past August that cutting off the subsidy payments to health insurers would result in a 20 percent increase in premiums next year, and a $194 billion increase in federal deficits over a decade. So, when that happens as predicted, you’ll have Trump to thank, and Democrats who will be all too happy to remind people of that fact.
Yeah, Greg. The first time I noticed Obamacare was collapsing and imploding, something I have been pointing out here and elsewhere for almost 6 years, was when Trump tweeted it. I see you have begun projecting your information gathering process upon others.
Obama’s little falsely propped up legacy is being exposed for its true worth and liberals like yourself cannot stand it. Obama brought this on, not Trump. This outcome was legislated into the law itself. Ultimate failure was part of the law all along.
@Greg: You put faith in the CBO whose estimates aren’t worth spit. Maybe just maybe insurance companies will now craft policies that people may want to buy at better prices. Free from the shackles of obamacare maybe a man will be able to buy a policy WITHOUT maternity coverage. I’d bet a lot of men will chance it.
In the meantime you can go door to door and offer up your own money to help out those you fear will have to pony up more money for their insurance.
Here is further information from someone more informed than you.
@Mully: Yeah, that would be the same CBO that first gave Obamacare a very unfavorable evaluation and Obama called the director to the White House and told him to go back and “fix” it. Yeah, let’s put a lot of faith in their objectivity.
Even then, they said Obamacare would cost $10 trillion.
We need more doctors to reject all forms of insurance, post prices and consumer ratings. get the government and insurance companies out of health care, the doctors then wouldnt need to hire a complete staff to just do paper work and coding.
The AMA could help by suspending the license of a bad doctor nation wide. limiting $$ a lawyer can collect on any malpractice suit.
when a doc is bad, he/she has a suspended license. when a lawyer, is bad, he/she continues to work under supervision, like a lot of supreme court judges in ohio.
@Deplorable Me, #8:
There’s nothing “falsely propped up” about it. The subsidy is a completely open use of taxpayer dollars to help support the transition to a system intended to extend health insurance coverage to millions more than previously had it. It’s far more direct, open, and honest than the previous arrangement, where a hidden subsidy took the form of passing the costs of uninsured patients on to those who did have insurance in the form of rapidly inflating premiums and healthcare costs.
Obama and the Affordable Care Act didn’t bring on out of control escalation of premium costs or medical care costs. Such costs had been rising at an accelerating for more than a decade before. The Affordable Care Act was a legislative response to that. Part of the reason Obama was elected was public demand that something be done.
The GOP had years of majority control of Congress without lifting a finger to deal with the problem. In fact, they worsened the fiscal dimension of the problem by legislatively blocking the Secretary of DHS from bargaining for lower Medicare drug prices. They were sent to the doghouse to contemplate their failures, but apparently learned absolutely nothing. Now that they once again have majority control of the House, the Senate, and the White House—having sworn up and down that they were ready to deal with the problem the moment they were given the chance—they still can’t come up with anything in the way of a better idea. All they seem to have on their mind is how to most effectively kick apart the effort the democrats are making.
The point of the whole damn charade is simple: the GOP is hellbent on keeping the wealthiest from paying more taxes. They’d rather leave people with less access to healthcare than raise taxes; they’d rather see the national debt rise than raise taxes.
The CBO’s entire function is making cost and budget projections that are as accurate as possible. Their critics don’t actually have a crystal ball; they have a rear-view mirror. They can’t hold out examples of alternate sources that look forward with consistently greater accuracy than the CBO.
@Greg: I wonder why the GOP never addressed the problem? Perhaps every scenario they looked out turned out like the failed Obamacare result?
Everything about Obamacare was a lie. People lost their insurance, premiums went up, costs went up and the law is totally unsustainable.
The Lie is presently living in the White House.
Trumpcare sabotage #1: Trump reneges on Obamacare payments, portending turmoil for consumers and taxpayers
He’s not a president. He’s a wrecking ball. All he knows how to do is break things, and the GOP shows no signs whatsoever of knowing how to deal with the results. Where’s that promised better, cheaper Obamacare replacement? It didn’t exist, any more than the damn wall that Mexico was going to pay for. You bought a bill of goods, none of which are going to be delivered. What you’re going to get is something entirely different.
What Obama did was avert our plunge into an economic abyss. He gave us 7 years of a steadily strengthening economy, an end to bin Laden, the Affordable Care Act, a nuclear agreement with Iran that successfully interrupted their race to produce nuclear weapons, and a diligently pursued international coordinated military effort that has reduced ISIS to a fleeing shadow of its former self. Among many other things.
@Greg: Yes, damn him for getting rid of the unconstitutional garbage thrown in to make a failure of a law dependent on taxpayer funds survive. Maybe we can all pitch in the $2500 a family we are all saving and save it!
@Deplorable Me: Greg is right Trump is a wrecking ball, the condemned crumbling system that insurance companies are running out of like rats. Really too bad we dont just leave the libs sit in it and have it fall in on them.
Trying to teach them self reliance and not to cry to the government to wipe their bottoms is a no go.
I guess we’ll see how people like the 20 percent premium increases the CBO predicts Trump’s little tantrum will bring about next year.
‘It’s not my war; this is our war’: Bannon threatens McConnell, Corker and GOP incumbents
Interesting metaphor. As I recall, Caesar’s own former supporters turned on him after he intimidated the Senate into declaring him dictator for life.
The modern-day equivalent would involve invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, about which I suspect there has been quiet discussion in high places.
The Senators that Bannon hopes to throw out were, in fact, elected by the people they represent. Trump was elected by a minority of voters, and his approval rating has declined precipitously since then.
@Greg: Bannon left the white House dolt, he is on his own crusade, separate from Trump. If you dont really know whats going on in conservative or Republican politics perhaps you should look before you make assumptions.They all made promises they did not keep low boys and girls on the liberty score.
Look to your own party being destroyed by old wrinkled women.
@kitt: He’s hysterical. Watching all of Obama’s failures exposed and that Trump won’t cling to them simply because Obama touched them has pushed him over the rational edge.
@Greg: Democrats promised choice and competition with the ACA. What we got was insurance companies pulling out of markets instead. Little to no choice. Can you even admit that? Again the subsidies were not legal. No legal mechanism for them.
Now if via Trump’s EO we get more choice and policies without mandated parts people don’t want we could see more choice and better pricing. But just in case time for you to go to your neighbor’s and pony up some of your cash to help them out just like a big hearted liberal should.
Nice to see you admit the CBO estimates aren’t worth spit.
As to your defense of Obama’s economy, go back and look at what they promised and what we got. The two are not even close. What we did get was 10 trillion in new debt.
Figures you’d like Obama’s Iran deal. Obama comes in with a big pile of cash for them up front, they reply death to America. I’d bet you were on board with Clinton’s North Korea deal. How’d that work out?
Musta hit a nerve, huh Greg? While we typically disagree on most issues, I do appreciate your (usually – and atypically for most from your side of the political spectrum) calm demeanor and replies.
However, read on and draw your own conclusions as to who’s being duped on what. Lo and behold it appears there was a court challenge *AND*…
Huh. Maybe not bullshit. Oh well. Keep flinging, eventually somethings gotta stick – Right?
@Jay: All of that was in the article. Either Greg didn’t bother to read it or he willfully ignores the facts to defend the legacy of his idol.
“While we typically disagree on most issues, I do appreciate your (usually – and atypically for most from your side of the political spectrum) calm demeanor and replies.”
I could have said exactly the same thing.
But recently he’s been a lot uglier and profane.
It’s almost as if “Greg” got tired of defending the indefensible and quit this gig.
Then Soros chose another person to take his place under the pseudonym “Greg”…
A meaner, nastier, more foul-mouthed liberal.
I want the old “Greg” back.
@Petercat: The butt-hurt left has thrown every accusation they can think of at Trump and they just evaporate due to the total lack of truth. They are already frustrated that Ms. Corruption didn’t receive her participation trophy of the Oval Office, now none of their lies work to depose Trump, so they just get more and more bitter.
A condition typical of most spoiled infants. Some grow out of it. Sadly, some don’t.