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Morning Action: Obamacare is Bad for Your Baby

OBAMACARE.  The Obamacare system” lacks a way for consumers to quickly and easily update their coverage for the birth of a baby or other common life changes”:

It’s not just having a new baby that could create bureaucratic hassles, but other life changes affecting a consumer’s taxpayer-subsidized premiums. The list includes marriage and divorce, a death in the family, a new job or a change in income, even moving to a different community.

Such changes affect financial assistance available under the law, so the government has to be brought into the loop.

7 MILLION.  The Obama Administration now claims that 7 million was never their target number for Obamacare, but the 7 million figure was cited both by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner:

Here’s Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaking to reporters last June: “We’re hopeful that 7 million is a realistic target.”

And here she is on Sept. 30, in an interview with NBC News: “I think success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014.”

Moreover, on Sept. 5, 2013, Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service, sent Sebelius a memo titled “Projected Monthly Enrollment Targets for Health Insurance Marketplaces in 2014.”

The memo offered an estimate of 7,066,000.

Whether or not the administration originally came up with the 7 million figure, officials certainly embraced it as a target in the months leading up to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. We agree that the mix of young and old enrollees is perhaps the more relevant number, but it’s a bit odd at this point for the administration to minimize the 7 million figure. Everyone knows enrollment got off to a slow start–and one can safely assume the administration would be bragging if in December it had exceeded the targets in Tavenner’s memo.

HHS MANDATE.  The Heritage Foundation notes:

Starting in the new year, Obamacare would force these sisters to direct their insurance provider to include abortion-inducing drugs and contraception in their health insurance plan—something that goes against their beliefs. If they don’t, the fine (up to $100 per employee per day) would be in the millions of dollars.

But Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted the sisters a temporary halt on this Obamacare mandate just hours before the New Year’s Eve countdown. The Obama Administration has until 10 a.m. today to respond to the stay.

The Administration is now responding (sub. req’d):

The response by the Obama administration is due by 10 a.m. Friday. The temporary stay will remain in place for the Little Sisters of the Poor, which runs homes for the elderly in Colorado, and two religious health benefit providers at least until the high court reviews the Justice Department brief and all the legal findings.

A White House official said the administration believes its rules on the mandate respect the concerns of nonprofit employers with religious beliefs, as well as provide women with access to approved and prescribed contraception.

OMNIBUS.  House GOP lawmakers say leaders and senior appropriators will move quickly on the $1.012 trillion omnibus for fiscal 2014 (sub. req’d):

Lawmakers will return to Washington next week, facing an extremely abbreviated timeline to move the spending package, which would cover government operations through Sept. 30. Both chambers will have slightly more than a week to pass the measure or a continuing resolution before the current stopgap spending measure (PL 113-46) expires on Jan. 15, or trigger another government shutdown.

House and Senate rules will push up that timeline even further. A House provision requires legislation to be made publicly available at least three days before it can be considered on the floor. Leaders must also allow for extra time in the Senate to buffer against any filibuster attempts or other procedural hurdles.

Top appropriators and their staffs worked overtime during the holiday recess to iron out as many funding and policy disagreements as possible within the 12 annual spending bills.

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