RUSH: President Trump took yet another slice out of Obamacare last night, an even bigger slice than what he took out of it yesterday before the program began. And what he actually did was enforce the rule of law. There was an aspect of Obamacare that has been unconstitutional from the get-go. And Trump ended it! The rule of law triumphs and survives. Great to have you on the program today.
JOHNNY DONOVAN: And now, from sunny south Florida, it’s Open Line Friday!
RUSH: Yes, sir. Open Line Friday where callers get to choose what it is they talk about. Doesn’t have to be related to anything that we have talked about or that I care about. Can be anything. That’s what’s different about it. Usually ends up sounding the same ’cause I talk about so much, it’s impossible for people to come up with things I haven’t talked about. Anyway, folks, great to have you. Telephone number, 800-282-2882. The email address, ElRushbo@eibnet.us.
These were the Obamacare subsidies to insurance companies that were never authorized by the United States Congress. The president of the United States cannot willy-nilly start spending money unless it’s authorized by the House of Representatives. And the subsidies to the insurance companies never have been. Subsidies to Obamacare patients had never been authorized by Congress.
The Republicans didn’t have any fingerprints on the original Obamacare. It was a Democrat-passed bill. There was not a single Republican vote on it, and, as such, whatever Obamacare was, it’s totally wrong to blame the Republicans for any of it because at the time they didn’t have the votes to stop it, and at the time the Democrats didn’t permit them to participate anyway.
It’s not a complicated explanation of what happened, but it’s quite controversial because this was a big deal for the Democrats. And now they’re out squealing like stuck pigs over what this is gonna mean to people, and it isn’t going to have a dramatic negative impact immediately on people.
Once again, it simply is reinforcing the Constitution of the United States. A major aspect of Obamacare that made it possible was unconstitutional. And you might say, “Why didn’t Trump do this at first?” Because he’s been trying to have an Obamacare repeal. He’s been working through channels, if you might say, he’s been trying to use the House and the Senate and have them play along and come up with a unified effort to repeal Obamacare and then come up with something else. But the House and the Senate, Democrats especially, but the Republicans really more than anybody didn’t want to play ball.
And Senator McCain, every chance he got to sabotage whatever effort might have happened, he took that opportunity. And so the Congress never did act like adults and get something done. So after nine months of patience and trying to do it the way the swamp does things, the president decided enough is enough. What you have to know here, the Democrats, they’ve been running around talking about how Obamacare is hopelessly broken. Obamacare’s this and Obamacare’s that. Well, maybe so. I don’t doubt it. But the Republicans have nothing to do with it. And Trump especially had nothing to do with it.
Trump doesn’t have a single thing to do with the current status of Obamacare or its origins. But if the Democrats are running around saying it’s a mess but they’re not gonna help fix it, why even talk to them? Because the fact of the matter is the Democrats single-handedly designed and built what amounts to a halfway house for socialized medicine. And now it’s on fire. It’s burning down, as per the design. To deny that is to lie.
The Democrats built whatever Obamacare is. Trump is trying to get Congress to get off their collective rear ends and deal with this. To blame Trump for the Obamacare mess or its flaws and failures is jaw droppingly stupid! The one person in Washington that literally has had nothing to do with the current status of Obamacare is Donald Trump. Obamacare started out unaffordable and it’s become even more unaffordable. And you knew this when they put the name “affordable” in the title of the bill.
Obamacare has been propped up with illegal subsidies. That is not sustainable. In fact, it’s unsustainable. Free markets are self-correcting. Heavily regulated markets are self-defeating. And Obamacare was a massively regulated market. And it was regulated by people who don’t like free markets. It was created and regulated by people who really don’t understand them.
So it’s kind of like with the NFL. Trump is accelerating the inevitable. It’s better to deal with it now than to let it become yet another Weinstein size problem, which is where it’s headed.
Now, here’s what happens. Yesterday, right before the program began, the president had a press conference, a little ceremony at the White House, where he took a knife to a certain aspect of Obamacare and rendered it basically impotent and corrected it. You have to remember that the payments that we’re talking about, that he did last night, the cutting of subsidies, payments to insurers are illegal. A federal judge has ruled that they’re unconstitutional because they were never authorized by Congress, and that’s what Trump did last night in the double whammy.
“The attack on federal subsidies –” this is from a website that doesn’t like what Trump did, so they call it an attack. “The attack on the federal subsidies came as a double blow to Obamacare, just hours after Trump had already lashed out at his predecessor’s healthcare reforms by issuing an executive order unilaterally weakening the system. In that order, the president opened the door to cheaper and less comprehensive insurance.”
It allows people to form their own associations. It allows you to buy health insurance policies that only feature things you want. It doesn’t mandate that young, healthy people pay the most expensive premiums, which is what Obamacare did. Remember, the whole theory behind Obamacare, at least the theory on the surface that everybody could see, young and healthy people would be required, i.e., via the mandate, to purchase massive health insurance policies that they wouldn’t ever use, because they’re healthy. Therefore, the cost to take care of them would be nill. But they would pay the freight for elderly and poor people, who could not afford to pay these premiums, and that is how they would be treated, that’s how they would be covered.
Well, young people can’t afford it! They didn’t buy it. They paid the fines instead, and the numbers of uninsured continued to skyrocket. So what sounded magnanimous and what sounded fair and what sounded sustainable wasn’t working at all. Young people don’t want to buy things that deal with their death. They’re not thinking about death at that stage of their lives. They don’t want to have to go out and buy insurance policies that feature things they will never, ever need, like a young man being forced to buy contraceptive coverage. What the hell? It made no sense. But these were the things, when you mix left-wing politics with the mandate of socialism, these are the things that resulted and people just stayed away and didn’t want it.
So Obamacare never had enough money, it never had the ability to even get anywhere near succeeding, which I still think is part of the design. Well, Trump came in yesterday and wiped all that out and basically said insurance companies are now free to create packages and programs that actually respond to customers’ needs. Small businesses and others are free to form their own associations, create their own groups, if you will, and go out and, via competition in the insurance market, find policies that feature things they actually want to have insurance for at premiums that will make sense because of the competitive element that has been reintroduced into the whole mess that the Obamacare design removed.
So the president opened the door to cheaper and less comprehensive insurance, and that is considered very, very bad by the Drive-Bys. Cheaper and less comprehensive. In other words, people are not going to have the same coverage. That means there won’t be equality. And that means it probably isn’t sustainable to them. And of course the experts that don’t understand markets are out there predicting wildly that Trump’s executive order yesterday close to noon will result in health plans for the sick becoming more expensive.
They already were expensive and getting more expensive and more unavailable! That’s the whole point! And everybody was complaining about it, but the Democrats are the only people with being fingerprints on it. So this is what pushing back looks like. And this is what fixing something looks like. Last night could be an actual deathblow to the whole concept of Obamacare, because it targeted the very foundations of the insurance structures created by Obamacare.
There was a study by the Congressional Budget Office a couple months ago that suggested terminating the cost sharing subsidies would lead to a dramatic 20% rise in the average cost of the most popular plans offered by Obamacare, as well as worsening the federal deficit — you love this? Here we are in the middle of a disaster, a failing disaster that is blowing the budget deficit sky-high and rapidly adding to the national debt, people are becoming less and less insured, there is less coverage in the market, it’s falling apart, the Democrats lead the charge, Trump goes in to fix something, and the Drive-By Media says that all of this is going to worsen the federal deficit and fight the Congressional Budget Office.
It’s the exact opposite. You can’t do both things. You can’t run around and complain about what a mess it is and then when somebody comes along and fixes it, complain about the mess that it’s supposedly going to create. The mess already exists. What’s happening is an attempt to fix this by getting rid of it. But the left and the Drive-Bys, they have an emotional attachment to Obamacare and they just don’t want to let it go.
Basically what happened was the Trump administration announced it was immediately ending cost sharing reduction payments to health insurance companies who are offering plans in the Obamacare exchanges. And regardless of what anybody says, there is nothing about this that is sabotage. All that has happened here is that the rule of law has been abided by.
These subsidies, subsidies to the insurance companies, back door paybacks, payoffs to the insurance companies have never been legal. They are unconstitutional. And the reason is simple: The president of the United States cannot walk into the Treasury and ask for an amount of money and give it to whoever he wants. The Constitution says that all appropriations, all spending must originate in the House of Representatives.
There are people who have read the entire text of Obamacare, and they will happily tell you that nowhere in the Obamacare text is there an inclusion for an appropriation for these subsidies. These subsidies, what they do is reimburse insurance carriers for discounting deductibles and copays for low-income people in the exchanges. It’s a sop. It’s Obama and the Democrats knowing that they devised something that was unaffordable.
So to get the insurance companies to play ball and not oppose this, Obamacare offered to subsidize them if they would lower the price below market levels for people that are poor or sicker or what have you. The insurance companies went along with it because they were being paid back by the government. They were guaranteed not to lose money on this, and yet they still ended up losing money. The Obama administration knew that this was unconstitutional, but they went ahead and made the payments anyway because they knew that nobody on the right wing was gonna have the guts to stand up and stop him.
So they just did whatever they wanted to do because the Republicans did not know what push-back means. They didn’t even know what opposition means, other than speaking it. But actually engaging in it never happened. You can’t blame Obama (imitating Obama), “Hey, you know what? Those guys don’t have the guts to stop me. And I know why. First African-American president, they don’t want to be called racist. So, you know what? We’re just gonna walk over to Treasury, grab what I need and give it to insurance companies. They gonna love me, and I’m gonna get this done.” Is how they did it. Totally anti and unconstitutional.
Nobody said a word. ‘Cause, of course, who were the beneficiaries? The poor, the downtrodden, the sick. But that’s not who benefited. Who benefited was the insurance companies. The federal government was subsidizing making sure the insurance companies earned a profit or, at the worst, did not lose any money. But again, the Constitution expressly prohibits what happens. So Obamacare subsidies being erased by Trump last night is not a political move; it’s a legal move. And what happened was the rule of law was respected, and it triumphed. And something that should never have happened was fixed.
RUSH: Another way to look at this is this was crony capitalism — actually, crony socialism. This was Obama colluding with the big insurance companies to protect them and prevent them from having to deal with competition, and rewarding them by subsidizing whatever costs they encountered in implementing the law of Obamacare. All of that, that collusion, was unconstitutional. Obama did not have the constitutional right. Even if he had written an executive order, that is unconstitutional.
Now, the Republicans in the House did sue Obama over these payments. The case is still winding its way through the courts. It’s probably moot by now. But the end result is that insurance companies now have to go back into these markets and compete, something they have not had to do since 2010. They now have to compete for business, and they now have to devise products that, A, people can afford — because there are no more subsidies.
They have to come up with policies that people can afford and that people will want to buy it, and with competition entering the market, the likelihood of one or both of those things happening rather rapidly is pretty good. Now, politics is in everything, and there’s corruption in everything, and these insurance companies, I’m sure, grew to love Obama and the Democrat Party. I’m sure they are populated by a bunch of leftists that hate Trump, and so they might do their best to hold out and thwart what Trump is trying to do here, like leftist judges.
They will be in violation of the law if they do, but what’s new about that to people on the left? It will require further pursuit if these kinds of things happen. It’s the Republicans that are worried, “Well, you know what? You guys do this — Trump, you do this — and Republicans? You’re gonna end up owning whatever the result is. It was bad enough as it was, but that was Obamacare. Now it’s not gonna be Obamacare. It’s gonna be whatever the press calls it. President Trumpcare, Trump disaster, what have you.”
Fine. There are risks in fixing things. There are risks in taking on giant projects and trying to improve them. This was never a reason not to do it. Typical swamp: “No, we can’t fix this ’cause if it doesn’t work we’ll own it! We can’t have a bad name in this. So the people just have to continue to get screwed rather than us take a hit.”
RUSH: Well, look. I’m sitting here anticipating some things that you might be curious about, maybe worried about, when you hear that subsidies are ending. You might think, it says the insurance companies for the subsidies are ending, but what does that mean for me? So let me spell this out.
In the first place, about the GOP lawsuit, Trump has said the GOP did sue. They sued the government on the basis that these Obamacare subsidies, the insurance companies, were unconstitutional. And Trump has said he’s not gonna defend against the suit. I think it’s a moot point now anyway, because this accomplishes what the lawsuit sought.
Now, we’re not talking about massive amounts of money here. I have a piece by a guy named Christopher Jacobs at his own website. “For the time being, individuals likely will not see any direct effects from the payments ceasing. Carriers cannot exit Exchanges mid-year, and contracts for the 2018 plan year are already signed. (A provision in carriers’ 2017 and 2018 contracts lets them exit Exchanges if enrollees do not receive cost-sharing reductions — not if the insurers themselves do not receive them.)”
Now, this is an important point. A provision in the carriers’, the insures’ 2017-2018 contracts essentially with Obamacare let them exit the exchanges if enrollees do not receive cost-sharing reductions, not if the insures themselves do not. So the fact that the subsidies are ending does not automatically permit the carriers from leaving the exchanges.
If this sounds weird, it’s because it is. The clause was awkwardly drafted by lawyers for the insurer, and it may provide them with a little legal recourse. It further highlights the questionable assumptions and behaviors surrounding these subsidies. So as Mr. Jacobs writes here, maybe Washington can spend some time focusing on the real issue behind the administration’s action, and that’s upholding the Constitution.
This is the thing too. I don’t know if the primary mover in Trump ending these subsidies was upholding the Constitution or whether it was policy related. I hope it’s a little bit of both, but I certainly hope they did what they did in part because they realized what was happening was unconstitutional and therefore anything that comes along to try to address this cannot likewise be unconstitutional.
But the bottom line is, we’re not talking about massive amounts of money here. This year the insurers are on track to receive $7 billion in these subsidies or reimbursements and $10 billion next year. I must say, that’s according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, so those numbers could be wrong. They could be totally made up or they could be honestly wrong or whatever.
But here’s the thing as far as consumers are concerned. Trump is not ending the tax credits. The tax credits are the real and bigger subsidy that the poor get. We’re simply talking about subsidies the government was paying the insurance companies. Those are what have been ended and they were unconstitutional in the first place. But this does not end tax credits.
People go to the exchange, sign up, if they can’t afford it, if they qualify on the basis of poverty or hardship, then they get subsidies or tax credits, those survive, for now. You can get tax credits if you are at 400 percent of the poverty level, which ain’t bad. And that has not been changed.
Some people are saying that ending the insurance-provided subsidies, ending the Obamacare payments to the insurance companies, some are saying that’s just gonna mean these poor people will get the same amount or more back in tax credits. Bottom line, Trump has said that he stopped this because it was illegal, and that’s what he is saying is his motive, and that’s good.