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Legal Glitch “Has The Potential To Sink Obamacare” Zero Hedge October 27, 2013

As if the technological problems facing Obamacare were not enough, a potentially major “legal glitch” could cause the healthcare law to unravel in 36 states. As the LA Times reports, The Affordable Care Act proposes to make health insurance affordable to millions of low-income Americans by offering them tax credits to help cover the cost. To receive the credit, the law twice says they must buy insurance “through an exchange established by the state.” But 36 states have decided against opening exchanges for now. Critics of the law have seized on the glitch. They have filed four lawsuits that urge judges to rule the Obama administration must abide by the strict wording of the law, even if doing so dismantles it in nearly two-thirds of the states. And the Obama administration has no hope of repairing the glitch by legislation as long as the Republicans control the House…“This has the potential to sink Obamacare. It could make the current website problems seem minor by comparison,” noted on policy expert. Via LA Times, President Obama’s healthcare law also has a legal glitch that critics say could cause it to unravel in more than half the nation. Apparently no one noticed this when the long and complicated bill worked its way through the House and Senate. Last year, however, the Internal Revenue Service tried to remedy it by putting out a regulation that redefined “exchange” to include a “federally facilitated exchange.” This is “consistent with the language, purpose and structure … of the act as a whole,” the Treasury Department said. But critics of the law have seized on the glitch. They have filed four lawsuits that urge judges to rule the Obama administration must abide by the strict wording of the law, even if doing so dismantles it in nearly two-thirds of the states. And the Obama administration has no hope of repairing the glitch by legislation as long as the Republicans control the House. “This is a problem,” said Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University. “This case could have legs,” although “it was never the intent of Congress to establish federal exchanges that can’t do anything. They were supposed to have exactly the same powers.”

Intel Chairman Slams Obamacare Site’s Cybersecurity Plan Rebecca Shabad The Hill October 27, 2013

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) says he’s more concerned about’s problems today than he was last week. "It was very clear to me in the hearing that they don’t have an overarching solid cybersecurity plan to prevent the loss of private information,” he said Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Rogers, who’s chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is also a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and sat in on the Thursday hearing in which the ObamaCare website contractors testified. “I’m even more concerned today than I was last week,” he said. Host Candy Crowley asked Rogers what he thinks of Department of Health and Human Services officials saying the website will run properly by the end of November. “This worries me a lot, Candy,” he said. “The fact that they have different segments of people controlling information…but they have to store your application at some point. That’s a lot of your personal information.” HHS may have to redesign the entire system, Rogers said, because he said it’s not secure. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify before the Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday on the website’s technical issues. “Kathleen Sebelius is obviously not taking accountability for this,” said Rep. John Fleming (R-Fla.) on “State of the Union.” The congressman is among a number of Republican lawmakers calling for her resignation. He said he warned ObamaCare would be harmful from the beginning. “Now, after three weeks, we’re beginning to see those damaging effects.”

Despite Glitches, Obamacare Profit Windfall To Insurers Well Underway Bruce Japsen Forbes October 27, 2013

While politicians and pundits alike inside the beltway beat up the White House over computer system glitches, health insurance companies still project robust revenue growth and profits from a boom in business from newly insured Americans under the Affordable Care Act. Take this week’s third-quarter earnings report and financial projections of Wellpoint (WLP), one of the nation’s largest health insurers, which earlier this week raised its earnings guidance for the third time this year. Amid a flurry of stories about the troubled launch of the federal health insurance marketplace web site known as, Wellpointsaid its improved outlook is due in part to gains from the Affordable Care Act. On Friday, the Obama administration named a contractor to fix the site, saying it should be fixed by the end of November. Wellpoint is the parent of a number of Anthem and Blue Cross and Blue Shield branded plans and a key player in offering benefits to the growing population of consumers that are purchasing private coverage on exchanges as well as those covered by Medicaid insurance for the poor, which is also expanding under the Affordable Care Act. “We are raising our 2013 membership and earnings per share guidance, reflecting our strong year-todate performance and our continued expectation for higher investment spending in the fourth quarter as we begin our implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” Wellpoint chief executive officer Joseph Swedish told Wall Street analysts and investors earlier this week on the company’s third-quarter earnings call. “In the fully insured marketplace, the rollout of public insurance exchanges began October 1, and there has been a lot of activity around this area. We remain optimistic about the longterm membership growth opportunity through exchanges.”

Though health plans are frustrated at the slow sign up, their earnings forecasts and balance sheets reflect largely robust growth. Other health plans like Aetna AET +0.19% (AET), Humana HUM +0.23% (HUM) and UnitedHealth Group UNH +0.01% (UNH) are optimistic, according to public statements of their executives. Health plans are reporting growth across all of their lines of business. “The emergence of public exchanges, private exchanges, Medicaid expansions, growing dual eligible and long-term care need, accountable care experimentation, rising consumerism and the confluence of these elements have the potential to create new opportunities for us to grow and serve in new ways,” UnitedHealth Group chief executive officer Stephen J. Hemsley said on the company’s Oct. 17 thirdquarter earnings call with analysts. There is, however, caution from health insurance executives related to implementation of the Affordable Care Act, executives are telling Wall Street. “While . . . we’ve raised our 2013 adjusted (earnings per share) guidance by $0.40 or 5%, and we are encouraged by our third quarter operating performance, we caution against run-rating this improvement into 2014 given the number of changes to our business due to ACA implementation,” said Wellpoint chief financial officer Wayne Deveydt. “These include: Exchange enrollment. It is simply too early to get an accurate picture of our exchange-based volume or risk profile.”

Sen. Barrasso: Sebelius now 'laughingstock of America' Fox News October 27, 2013

Sen. John Barrasso on Sunday added to his criticism of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ handling of the ObamaCare website, saying she is now the “laughingstock of America.” The comments by Barrasso, R-Wyo., who last week called for Sebelius’ resignation, follow NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” comedy show in which the opening skit featured an actor pretending to be Sebelius talking about the site and its problems. Barrasso is just one of dozens of congressional Republicans who have called for the resignation of Sebelius, whose agency has handled the development and Oct. 1 rollout of the site. Thirty-three House Republicans, separately, sent a letter to President Obama urging him to ask for the resignation. They appeared to be joined Sunday in the call by Tennessee GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who said Sebelius will testify on Capitol Hill this week "before she's out the door." "The incompetence in building this website is staggering," Blackburn told "Fox News Sunday." Sebelius last week fought back against calls for her resignation, saying she doesn’t work for the people asking her to resign and that “no one is getting fired” over the glitches. Barrasso made his comments Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” and was followed on the show by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who said he thinks Sebelius should stay. GOP Senator on ABC: Kathleen Sebelius is 'Laughing Stock of America'


Legal Glitch “Has The Potential To Sink Obamacare”