Despite the GOP's strategy of obstructionism throughout the Affordable Care Act's (ACA, commonly known as Obamacare) implementation, Fox News pundits claimed Republicans have done nothing to contribute to ACA rollout problems.
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Fox News Dismisses GOP Of Any Responsibility For ACA Problems
Washington Times' Hurt: "The Fact That Republicans Were Opposed To This To Begin With Doesn't Mean That They Have Contributed To The Failure Of The Launch." On the November 20 edition of Happening Now, co-host Jon Scott asked Washington Times' Charlie Hurt whether President Obama was right to point to GOP obstruction as a contributor to problems in the ACA's rollout. Hurt disagreed with the president, and challenged the panel to "name one thing the Republicans have done to undermine" the law:
It's absolutely absurd to suggest that somehow this is the Republicans' fault. This is 100% owned by President Obama. The fact that Republicans were opposed to this to begin with doesn't mean that they have contributed to the failure of the launch. It simply means that they are now being vindicated.
Name one thing the Republicans have done to undermine this. [Fox News, Happening Now, 11/20/13]
Fox's Kelly: "The Republicans Had Nothing To Do With That, I Mean Literally They Voted Against Obamacare." Fox News host Megyn Kelly claimed that GOP lawmakers had nothing to do with Obamacare problems claiming the "The Republicans had nothing to do with that, I mean literally they voted against Obamacare":
KELLY: Is this the new offense?
FOX DIGITAL POLITICS EDITOR CHRIS STIREWALT: Well, they've tried this. This is about the fifth bite at the apple on this. But there is a fundamental disagreement here about what is wrong. So what the president and what Liberals and the folks he was talking to yesterday, his campaign volunteers that he was trying to rally yesterday. I guess he was trying to get them to rally him, he said. What they're concerned about is that not enough free health insurance is being given away. Their complaint about the program is that not enough free stuff is going out the door because they did the Internet wrong. And because all of this stuff, now in that area they blame Republicans because not enough enthusiasm among the Republican governors, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
But that is not why the president approval rating is tanking, that's not why the Washington Post, ABC News poll said, that people wished they had Mitt Romney for a president instead of him. The cause of all of that is the insurance policies that are being emulated by the president's intentional policy and the fact that he deceived voters on that subject. So it is not about how much free stuff is being given away. It is about the policies that are being destroyed to finance the stuff.
KELLY: And the Republicans had nothing to do with that, I mean, literally, they voted against ObamaCare.
STIREWALT: Literally, the Enzi, yes.
KELLY: And they tried to raise the red flag to say that the regulations by Sebelius were eliminating the grandfathering clause. And no one listened. The Democrats, I mean, they literally had nothing to do with the cancellation of these five million policies.
STIREWALT: And now what Liberal Democrats are coming out to say to the president is man up, dude, you have to get out there and just say, this was the plan. But it is hard to blame Republicans for that one, so he is going to keep craw fishing. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 11/19/13, accessed via Nexis 11/20/13]
But GOP Obstructionism Has Hampered The Law's Success
Most GOP Governors Declined To Create Their Own State Exchanges
Politico: "Putting An Excessive Burden On The Federal Government Was The Explicit Aim Of The Law's Opponents." Politico reported in a November 1 story titled "The Obamacare sabotage campaign," most Republican governors declined to create state exchanges, forcing the federal government to create "far more [marketplaces] than ever intended":
But the bitter fight over passage was only the beginning of the war to stop Obamacare. Most Republican governors declined to create their own state insurance exchanges -- an option inserted in the bill in the Senate to appeal to the classic conservative preference for local control -- forcing the federal government to take at least partial responsibility for creating marketplaces serving 36 states -- far more than ever intended.
In fact, putting an excessive burden on the federal government was the explicit aim of the law's opponents. "Congress authorized no funds for federal 'fallback' exchanges," the Tea Party Patriots website noted as long ago as last December. "So Washington may not be able to impose exchanges on states at all." The group went on to suggest that since Washington was not equipped to handle so many state exchanges, "both financially and otherwise -- this means the entire law could implode on itself." [Politico, 11/1/13]
The Washington Post: "Republicans Would Block Any Funding Attempts" Of Federal Insurance Exchange, Yet Pressured States To "Refuse To Build Their Own." A November 2 Washington Post article detailed the way in which Republicans pressured states to "refuse to build their own online insurance marketplaces," while preventing the funding of the federal insurance exchange in order to sabotage the ACA:
Although the statute provided plenty of money to help states build their own insurance exchanges, it included no money for the development of a federal exchange -- and Republicans would block any funding attempts. According to one former administration official, [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius simply could not scrounge together enough money to keep a group of people developing the exchanges working directly under her.
A larger number of states than expected were signaling that, under Republican pressure, they would refuse to build their own online insurance marketplaces and would rely on the federal one. The more states in the federal exchange, the more complex the task of building it. Yet, according to several former officials, White House staff would not let this fact be included in the specifications. Their concern, one former official said, was that Republicans would seize on it as evidence of a feared federal takeover of the health-care system. [The Washington Post, 11/2/13]
Many Republican-Controlled States Also Rejected Medicaid Expansion Under ACA
The New York Times: Republican-Controlled States "Declined To Participate" In ACA Medicaid Expansion. According to the New York Times, the Supreme Court's 2012 decision to allow states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion left millions of low-income consumers without financial help in acquiring insurance (emphasis added):
A sweeping national effort to extend health coverage to millions of Americans will leave out two-thirds of the poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the low-wage workers who do not have insurance, the very kinds of people that the program was intended to help, according to an analysis of census data by The New York Times.
Because they live in states largely controlled by Republicans that have declined to participate in a vast expansion of Medicaid, the medical insurance program for the poor, they are among the eight million Americans who are impoverished, uninsured and ineligible for help. The federal government will pay for the expansion through 2016 and no less than 90 percent of costs in later years.
The law was written to require all Americans to have health coverage. For lower and middle-income earners, there are subsidies on the new health exchanges to help them afford insurance. An expanded Medicaid program was intended to cover the poorest. In all, about 30 million uninsured Americans were to have become eligible for financial help.
But the Supreme Court's ruling on the health care law last year, while upholding it, allowed states to choose whether to expand Medicaid. Those that opted not to leave about eight million uninsured people who live in poverty ($19,530 for a family of three) without any assistance at all. [The New York Times, 10/2/13]
Study: Medicaid Expansion Denial Will Cost States Billions While Millions Go Without Private Insurance. A July 13 article from the Huffington Post highlighted a RAND study which found millions would be left without health care overage and states would lose billions by not expanding Medicaid under the ACA:
States that refuse to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care reform law not only will deny health coverage to poor residents and lose access to a huge influx of federal dollars, they also will see increased spending on uninsured people's unpaid medical bills, according to a new report by the Rand Corp., a consulting firm.
"State policymakers should be aware that if they do not expand Medicaid, fewer people will have health insurance, and state and local governments will have to bear higher costs for uncompensated care," Carter Price and Christine Eibner of the Rand Corp. write. "We estimated states' costs for expansion to be less than the reduction in their costs for uncompensated care."
If all states were to expand Medicaid under the health care reform law, 16.2 million poor people would gain access to the program, bringing total enrollment to 62.9 million by 2016, according to the Rand Corp. analysis. Based on the 14 anti-expansion states included in the report, 4.4 million fewer than that would join Medicaid. A portion of those people would obtain subsidized private health insurance under Obamacare, leaving a total of 3.6 million more uninsured than if all states were to expand Medicaid. [Huffington Post, 6/3/13]
Republican-Controlled House Obstructed Implementation Of ACA
Politico: "Republicans Refused Repeatedly To Appropriate Dedicated Funds" For ACA Implementation. A November 1 Politico article noted that, after "[m]ost Republican governors declined to create their own state insurance exchanges ... congressional Republicans refused repeatedly to appropriate dedicated funds" needed for the federal government to "take at least partial responsibility for creating [those] marketplaces," which left "the Health and Human Services Department and other agencies to cobble together HealthCare.gov by redirecting funds from existing programs." [Politico, 11/1/13]
Fox's Juan Williams: "House Republicans Prefer Sabotage To Real Solutions." In a column in The Hill, Fox contributor Juan Williams explained that the "GOP majority in the House is reaching for new heights of political absurdity" by voting dozens of times to "kill all or part of the Affordable Care Act.":
But reality is a nuisance to Congressional Republicans intent on a brazen strategy to trip up the healthcare program before it can take its first step. Republicans do not want to give it any chance to be embraced by the public.
The attacks on ObamaCare are of a piece with the Republican strategy of using filibusters to delay and block Obama administration nominees, leaving key posts empty. A quarter of the filibusters in Senate history have been used against Obama's nominees.
The press has largely snickered at the abusive behavior on Capitol Hill. Reporters treat it as predictable rough play between polarized parties. But the Republicans have taken the fight way beyond hardball. [The Hill, 5/13/13]
GOP Has Launched Dubious Legal Attacks Against ACA
The Hill: "Forty House Republicans Filed A Brief Last Week In Support Of A Legal Challenge Against Obamacare." In a November 12 post, The Hill reported that 40 House lawmakers filed a brief supporting a legal challenge against Obamacare:
Forty House Republicans filed a brief last week in support of a legal challenge against ObamaCare that argues the law imposes billions of dollars in new taxes but did not originate in the House, as tax bills must under the Constitution.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) spearheaded the effort by filing a "friend of the court" brief on Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. That brief argued that ObamaCare violated the Origination Clause of the Constitution, which holds that all bills for raising revenue "shall originate in the House."
The case is Sissel v United States Department of Health and Human Services. It was brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) on behalf of Matthew Sissel, a small-business owner.
A district court has already dismissed the case, but that led the PLF to file an appeal over the summer. Oral arguments in the case are likely next year. [The Hill, 11/12/13]
The Washington Post's Klein: "Fourteen State Attorneys General Filed Suit Against The Law's Requirement That Most Americans Purchase Health Insurance, On The Ground That It Was Unconstitutional." Ezra Klein wrote a June 2012 article in The New Yorker where he explained that the Republican Party who once advocated many aspects of ACA, now oppose it so fervently that "fourteen state attorneys general filed suit against the law's requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance, on the ground that it was unconstitutional."
On March 23, 2010, the day that President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, fourteen state attorneys general filed suit against the law's requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance, on the ground that it was unconstitutional.
[George Washington University aw professor] Orin Kerr says that, in the two years since he gave the individual mandate only a one-per-cent chance of being overturned, three key things have happened. First, congressional Republicans made the argument against the mandate a Republican position. Then it became a standard conservative-media position. "That legitimized the argument in a way we haven't really seen before," Kerr said. "We haven't seen the media pick up a legal argument and make the argument mainstream by virtue of media coverage." Finally, he says, "there were two conservative district judges who agreed with the argument, largely echoing the Republican position and the media coverage. And, once you had all that, it really became a ballgame."
[A] policy that once enjoyed broad support within the Republican Party suddenly faced unified opposition--opposition that was echoed, refined, and popularized by other institutions affiliated with the Party. This is what Jason Grumet, the president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a group that tried to encourage Republicans and Democrats to unite around policy solutions, calls the "think-tank industrial complex"--the network of ideologically oriented research centers that drive much of the policy debate in Washington. [The New Yorker, 6/25/12]
Tulsa World: Oklahoma Attorney General "Aims To Block" Tax Credits. According to the Tulsa World, Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt (R) used a legal question about tax credits under the Affordable Care Act as an opportunity to revive his lawsuit on behalf of the state of Oklahoma to invalidate the ACA's individual mandate. The Supreme Court's June 2012 decision in NFIB v. Sebelius rendered Pruitt's original lawsuit irrelevant:
The filing in federal court in the Eastern District of Oklahoma in Muskogee substantially revises Pruitt's 2011 lawsuit in the wake of a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found the law to be substantially constitutional.
Although the new filing continues to argue that the Oklahoma Constitution legally prohibits an individual mandate to buy health insurance, it also brings forward a new argument - that IRS rules to implement the law can't be applied in the state because of the law's own language. [Tulsa World, 9/20/12]