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The Late Edition: January 30, 2013
Posted By:  - 01/30/13

Today’s Taxpayer News!

Politico has compiled the latest “Obamacare” news, including NTU’s opposition (as well as that of twenty other free market organizations) to the Independent Payment Advisory Board

Consumer confidence is down with workers taking home less pay as a result of the payroll tax cut expiration, according to Boston.com.

Wondering why your cell phone bill ends up looking so much higher than you initially thought? The Tax Foundation recently found that on average Americans pay 17 percent in taxes and fees on top of their wireless bills.

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Monday's Medicaid Expansion Showdown
Posted By: Lee Schalk - 01/04/13

On Monday, Governor Rick Scott, who has been a sharp critic of Obamacare, will finally meet face-to-face with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. This one will be worth keeping a close eye on – not only did Scott ignore the December deadline to notify federal officials about Florida's health insurance exchange, but two weeks ago, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration released a report showing that Medicaid expansion in Florida would cost taxpayers in the Sunshine State a staggering $26 billion over the next decade. This estimate is more than three times the $8 billion estimate that was released a few months back and does not include the $38 billion in additional costs to the federal government for Florida’s possible expansion.

In its June 2012 decision on Obamacare, the Supreme Court gave states the ability to opt into or out of the law’s Medicaid expansion. For those unfamiliar with how the expansion would work, enrollment would be extended to all people under 65 who are not eligible for Medicare and have incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. In addition to income requirements, other current criteria for eligibility (for example, pregnancy or a child in the household) will be loosened in states that opt into the expansion. Prior to the Court’s decision, 16 million people were expected to be added to states’ Medicaid rolls.

In February, before the Supreme Court had ruled on the health law, the Government Accountability Office surveyed state budget directors on the law’s Medicaid expansion. The survey results included responses from 42 of 50 states with near-universal agreement that states would have to spend much more on administrative costs, the acquisition or modification of information technology, and the influx of patients who were previously eligible but had not yet enrolled. Combined with the flood of newly eligible Medicaid patients, the cost of the expansion in states that choose to accept it will be unsustainable, as illustrated in the recent Florida report.

Medicaid is already on the brink of collapse. Higher enrollment in recent years has led to low reimbursement rates and payment delays. While administrative costs are a giant hurdle for Medicaid expansion, the doctor shortage is also cause for concern. It is estimated that 36 percent of doctors have stopped accepting new Medicaid patients, and 26 percent of physicians do not see any Medicaid patients at all. Clearly, Medicaid is already failing to provide quality care for the neediest Americans, and expanding the program by millions of additional people is certain to accelerate the program’s failure.

Another factor contributing to Medicaid’s high cost is rampant fraud.  The Government Accountability Office has designated Medicaid as a “high risk” program and has estimated that the improper payment rate in 2008 was 10.5 percent, amounting to $32 billion in fraudulent payments. With the additional Medicaid beneficiaries likely to join the rolls in states that approve the program’s expansion, this number could very easily increase.

A disturbing recent example of Medicaid fraud was featured last month on the Today Show. The report exposed a Texas company called Small Smiles that was performing unnecessary and unsafe dental procedures on poor children in order to reel in Medicaid dollars. At one location, $900,000 out of $1 million in revenue came from Medicaid.

Under Obamacare, approximately 1 million additional uninsured Floridians will be eligible to join this fiscally unstable and costly program. With the recent projection of an additional $26 billion over 10 years to the State of Florida, Secretary Sebelius has a lot of explaining to do on Monday.

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The Late Edition: November 15, 2012
Posted By:  - 11/15/12

Today’s Taxpayer News!

Pete Sepp on the importance of sparing oil and gas companies from harsh tax hikes at the end of the year.

This article from Real Clear Markets offers an economic explanation for how policies that lower tax rates and broaden the tax base generate more revenue than those which hike tax rates.

Check out his video from Americans for Limited Government explaining how governors who forgo setting up the state exchanges under ObamaCare actually empower employers in their states to fight the mandate.

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The Late Edition: October 4, 2012
Posted By:  - 10/04/12

Today’s Taxpayer News!

NTU’s Pete Sepp discusses the many unknowns about the IRS’s role in healthcare should ObamaCare continue to be implemented in this article from the Heartlander.

A new study from the Tax Policy Center finds that if the Bush Tax Cuts are allowed to expire completely at the year’s end, a whopping 71 percent of taxpayers would watch their taxes rise.  

 

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The Late Edition: September 25, 2012
Posted By:  - 09/25/12

Today’s Taxpayers News!

NTU’s Pete Sepp explains the massive costs shifted onto taxpayers when SSI Disability payments are wrongfully awarded in this article from Godfather Politics.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt discusses why his state has declined to implement the new healthcare exchanges under ObamaCare, and explains how he is challenging legal inconsistencies within the law.

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Speaking of Taxpayers, July, 27th, 2012: The Ills of the Farm Bill and the ACA.
Posted By:  - 07/27/12

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Doug and Pete welcome Nan Swift and Demian Brady to discuss the stance on Farm Bill and issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act as it relates to taxation.
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Speaking of Taxpayers, July 20, 2012: NTU’s New State Affairs Manager, Post Office, & More
Posted By:  - 07/23/12

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NTU's new State Affairs Manager Lee Schalk joins Doug & Manzanita (in Pete's absence) to discuss state taxpayer issues that are still popping up despite the summer heat. Also the 'Fiscal Five' & 'Outrage of the Week!'
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Speaking of Taxpayers, July 13, 2012: Governments Return with Gusto
Posted By:  - 07/16/12

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A variety of activity at the federal and state level picks up after Independence Day & "Speaking of Taxpayers" reviews it all.

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The “Shared Responsibility Payment”: A Closer Examination of the Affordable Care Act’s New Tax
Posted By:  - 07/13/12

On Tuesday, July 10, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing to examine  what effects the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the individual mandate portion of the President’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a tax will have on Congress' ability to levy and collect taxes.

The individual mandate, now being referred to as the “shared responsibility payment” is the segment of the ACA which is meant to compel every individual to purchase government-approved health insurance or face a penalty in the form of a tax.

Championed by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), the Committee called forward a panel of law scholars to testify as to how the rendering of the ACA from mandate to tax will affect the relationship between government and its people.

Walter Dellinger, a Partner with O’Melveny & Myers LLP in Washington, DC, was one of the supporters of the ACA, and attempted to downplay the significance of the tax itself, citing a Congressional Budget Office estimate that only 1 percent of the population will be affected by the tax.

In his testimony, Dellinger also took care to assert that the “shared responsibility payment” is necessary for the rest of the ACA to function properly, since the ACA mandates that those with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage:

 “The ‘shared responsibility payment’ is merely a financial incentive for people to have adequate health insurance...it is a payment that few Americans will ever make or even notice.”

However, Steven G. Bradbury, a Partner with Dechert LLP, had a very different analysis of the effects this new tax is likely to have on Americans. Because the ‘mandate’ has morphed into a less daunting ‘tax’, and because paying said tax will by most estimates be much less expensive than purchasing the government-approved insurance package, a much larger number of individuals than previously assumed will likely skip the insurance all together and pay the tax instead according to Bradbury. Not only would this undermine the very premise of the ACA, which is to maximize coverage, but it could lead to Congress becoming irked at the low coverage rates and raising the tax even higher, to compel more individuals to purchase health insurance.

Bradbury also dispelled the assertion that “few Americans would even notice” this new invasive tax, by demonstrating how the mandate-turned-tax was primarily intended to force Americans to subsidize the massive costs incurred by insurance companies who would suddenly be forced to accept everyone into their programs no matter how ill they might be:

 “The individual mandate was originally enacted to compel millions of Americans to pay more for health insurance than they receive in benefits as a means to subsidize the costs that the Act’s guaranteed-issue and community-rating requirements will impose on private insurance companies.”

In other words, Americans are being forced by government to purchase more insurance than we would otherwise choose to, so that we can hand money to insurance companies whom government has forced to take on more policies than is profitable or wise.

It is obvious that upon closer inspection, the Affordable Care Act and its new “shared responsibility payment” are no more appealing to fiscal conservatives and civil libertarians than they were from far away. The ability of Congress to tax individuals into compliance and to continue to raise that tax if the desired behavior is not met represents a new threat to the sovereignty of every American citizen.

Many in the House of Representatives understand the threat that the ACA raises both in terms of individual liberty and economic wellbeing, and subsequently voted to repeal the entire act  this Wednesday, with five Democrats crossing party lines to join their Republican peers in the 33rd effort to repeal.

Although the vote was largely symbolic, as the Democrat-controlled Senate has little chance of allowing a repeal vote, it demonstrates that the majority in the House is not turning deaf ears to the 47 Percent of Americans who oppose the law.

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