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Affordable Health Care Act under SCOTUS review

March 26, 2012 - by David Moore

(Ed. - re-publishing this post from last week Monday.) You've likely heard this morning that SCOTUS is reviewing H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, i.e. the major health-care reform bill from the previous 111th U.S. Congress that was signed into law March 22nd, 2010. Full bill text (including most-commented sections), roll call results, money trailnews & blog coveragepublic comments

The relatively-under-appreciated (in my opinion) Memeorandum has the wide-ranging overview from blogs & news around the Webnet; the must-read-every-day Wonkblog by Ezra Klein et al chez WaPo brings (as expected & appreciated & admired) the accessible primer: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About #hcr & SCOTUS

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The Tax Cut No One Noticed

October 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Did you notice that your federal tax bill was lower last year? If you're like most people, you didn't. But believe it or not, one of the first things Barack Obama and 111th Congress did when they took office in 2009 was pass an income tax cut for about 95% of U.S. tax payers. The New York Times reported yesterday on why this went so unnoticed:

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Like most big pieces of legslation, the health care reform bill (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act) shunts a lot of specific policy decisions off to different agencies and regulators to be made after it becomes law. Yet, as soon as things move out of Congress and the big political battles end, hardly any attention is paid to to the process by which legislation actually starts to take effect.

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The New York Times reveals the next embarrassing mistake with the Democrats' drafting of the health care bill:

It is often said that the new health care law will affect almost every American in some way. And, perhaps fittingly if unintentionally, no one may be more affected than members of Congress themselves. [...]

For example, it says, the law may “remove members of Congress and Congressional staff” from their current coverage, in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, before any alternatives are available.

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Native American Health Care Reform

April 8, 2010 - by Eric Naing

The passage of the Affordable Care Act (H.R.3590) was a very big deal to more than just Vice President Biden – it also represents the successful culmination of years of work on behalf of Native Americans and their allies in both parties. Peppered throughout the bill are numerous provisions that permanently reauthorize and extend a landmark health care law governing American Indians and Native Alaskans that expired in 2001.

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One of the most important and most controversial parts of the new health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as amendment by the reconciliation bill, is that it requires all U.S. residents to have insurance or pay a tax penalty. This is known as the "individual mandate," and although it is a Republican idea that has a long history of bipartisanship, both conservatives and progressives have recently focused their criticisms of the law on it.

In reality, it's quite nuanced. The idea of the law is that it will control costs and provide enough government assistance that insurance will be affordable for everyone and that the individual mandate penalty will not have to be used. It will give out billions in "affordability credits" and it includes an economic hardship exemption so that people who can't reasonably afford insurance under the new law won't have to pay the tax. Here's a detailed rundown of how the affordability and individual mandate provisions would work, including, to the extent possible, how much money people will be expected to pay for insurance under the new law.

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Health Care Reform and OpenCongress

April 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

We built OpenCongress because the government source for congressional information was frustratingly unfriendly, and because we saw the potential for using emerging web tools to make congressional information as open, engaging and helpful as it ought to be. Since we launched more than 3 years ago, we've seen some big issues come and go -- immigration reform, the Iraq war, the financial bailout -- but nothing got people looking for factual information on what Congress was up to as much as health care reform. This past year has been a huge test of where we're at with improving access to Congress.

In the spirit of transparency, here's an overview of how OpenCongress was used during the health care debate.

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McCain: We Will Defund Health Care Reform

March 31, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. John McCain [R, AZ] describes an emerging Republican strategy for undoing the Democrats' new health care reform law.

"When I say repeal, people say you're not going to be able to do it," he said on KQTH FM Radio. "I am confident we will get majorities in both houses in the fall. And that means the power of the purse...If we cut off the money, it doesn't take an override to a veto."

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Shortly after the health care bill was signed into law last week, it became clear that someone, either the Democrats in Congress or President Obama, had messed up. Obama had been saying publicly that the bill would immediately ban insurance companies from denying children with pre-existing conditions from buying new insurance plans. But what the bill actually did was ban insurers from denying certain services for children with pre-existing conditions who are already insured.

To fix the situation, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she would issuing regulations that would apply Obama's interpretation over the letter of the law, but it was unclear whether insurers would follow regulations that go beyond what had been passed by Congress and signed into law. Today, the health insurers announced that they will voluntarily go beyond the letter of the law and immediately stop denying children with pre-existing conditions from getting new insurance plans.

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Health Care Reform and OpenCongress

March 26, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

We built OpenCongress because the government source for congressional information was incredibly unfriendly, and because we saw the potential for using emerging web tools to make congressional information as open, engaging and friendly as it ought to be. Since we launched more than 3 years ago, we've seen some big issues come and go -- immigration, Iraq, the financial bailout -- but nothing got people looking for factual information on what Congress was up to as much as health care reform. The past year has been a huge test of where we're at with improving access to Congress.

In the spirit of transparency, here's an overview of how OpenCongress was used during the health care debate.

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