On ObamaCare’s Discriminatory Subsidies, Brewer Bows When Arizona Should Keep Slugging

by Michael Cannon, CATO Institute

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) recently set aside her vociferous opposition to ObamaCare’scostly Medicaid expansion by announcing she will support implementing that expansion in Arizona. A significant factor in her reversal, she claimed, was that if Arizona did not expand its Medicaid program, then some legal immigrants would receive government subsidies while U.S. citizens would get nothing.

Brewer’s analysis of this “immigration glitch,” and her remedy for it, are faulty. Fortunately, she, Arizona’s legislature, and its attorney general have better options for stopping it.

An odd and unforeseen result of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding ObamaCare is that, in certain circumstances, the law will now subsidize legal immigrants but not citizens. What triggers this inequity is a state’s decision to implement an Exchange – not the decision to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. (Even if a state implements both provisions, legal immigrants would still receive more valuable subsidies than citizens.) The good news is that states can therefore prevent this inequity simply by not establishing an Exchange. If Brewer wants to avoid this “immigration glitch,” there is no need to expand Medicaid. She already blocked it when she refused to establish an Exchange.

The bad news is that the Obama administration is trying to take away the power Congress granted states to block those discriminatory subsidies, and the punitive taxes that accompany them. Contrary to both the statute and congressional intent, the IRS hasannounced it will impose that witch’s brew in all states, even in the 32 that have refused to establish an Exchange.

Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt has filed suit to stop that stunning power grab. If Brewer is serious about stopping the “immigration glitch,” the way to do it is by filing a lawsuit similar to Oklahoma’s, while adding a complaint that the Obama administration’s illegal subsidies also violate the Equal Protection clause.

How “the Immigration Glitch” Emerged

ObamaCare aims to offer some form of tax credit or subsidy to purchase health insurance to all citizens and legal immigrants below 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $92,000 for a family of four). Generally, people below 138 percent of the poverty level would receive subsidies through their state’s Medicaid program, while citizens and legal immigrants between 100-400 percent of poverty would receive tax credits and/or subsidies to purchase private health insurance through state-created health insurance “exchanges.”

In a slight departure from those general rules, Congress also made legal immigrants below 100 percent of poverty eligible for those Exchange subsidies. Why? ObamaCare originally would have required states to expand their Medicaid programs to all citizens up to 138 percent of poverty level. But since states have the option of excluding legal immigrants from their Medicaid programs, and could continue to do so under that expansion, Congress made legal immigrants below the poverty level eligible for Exchange subsidies if they live in one of those states. Since ObamaCare supporters expected all states to implement the Medicaid expansion, they reasonably believed all citizens and legal immigrants below 400 percent of poverty would receive some form of tax credit or subsidy.

Then along came Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts.

With six of his colleagues, Roberts voted to declare ObamaCare’s Medicaid mandate unconstitutional. Four of those justices then voted to strike down the entire law on the grounds that the Medicaid mandate was not severable from what remained. But rather than vote with them, Roberts voted with the other four justices—including two who held the Medicaid mandate to be constitutional—to preserve the law and simply make the Medicaid expansion optional for states.

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Action Alert: Wyoming Firearms Protection Act in the State Senate

Wyoming’s Firearms Protection Act, HB104, is “an act relating to firearms; providing that any federal law which attempts to ban a semi-automatic firearm or to limit the size of a magazine of a firearm or other limitation on in this state shall be unenforceable in Wyoming; providing a penalty; and providing for an effective date.” This act nullifies all federal laws made after Jan. 1, 2013.

It recently passed the state house by a vote of 46-13. It now sits in the State Senate where grassroots activism is necessary to keep it moving forward.

HB104 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. There, it will require a hearing and approval to send it to the full Senate for a vote.

HB104 was introduced by Wyoming Rep. Kendell Kroeker and co-sponsored by Representatives Baker, Burkhart, Jaggi, Miller, Piiparinen, Reeder and Winters and Senators Dockstader and Hicks.

“We need the second amendment because it is the protection for all of our other rights. Without it, those rights have no protection,” Kroeker said.

Beyond such statements, the bill backs things up with some teeth by providing for criminal charges for federal agents who attempt to violate the proposed state law:

“Any official, agent or employee of the United States government who enforces or attempts to enforce any act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the United States government upon a personal firearm, a firearm accessory or ammunition that is owned or manufactured commercially or privately in Wyoming and that remains exclusively within the borders of Wyoming shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be subject to imprisonment for not less than one (1) year and one (1) day or more than five (5) years, a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), or both.”

ACTION ITEMS for Wyoming Residents

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Pitt County, NC passes Resolution in Support of the 2nd Amendment

On Monday morning, February 4, the Board of County Commissioners in Pitt County adopted two resolutions aimed at re-asserting the rights pronounced in the Second Amendment.

The first resolution, “A Resolution to Preserve and Defend the US Constitution and NC Constitution,” passed by a vote of 6-3, with the Democratic members of the board opposing it.  Melvin McLawhorn stated that he refused to support such a resolution because he trusts President Obama and the administration and their motives.  “It’s about the kids. We have to protect them.”  Commissioners Beth Ward and Tom Johnson also both publicly opposed the resolution. They asserted that they saw no action on the part of the federal government that would endanger the Second Amendment’s protections.

The second resolution, entitled “A Resolution to Protect the Privacy and Security of Law Abiding Gun Owners in North Carolina,” passed by 7-2.  Newly-elected Republican Commissioner Tom Coulson gave an impassioned explanation for his support of this resolution.

Both resolutions were drafted and introduced by Commissioner Glen Webb, who also serves on the Pitt County police force.

Only two Pitt residents spoke during the public comments period, Diane Rufino and Bob Griffin. Both are active in the Tea Party and GOP and both spoke strongly in favor of the resolutions.  Diane began by quoting Mr. Bill Kennedy, director of the NC Tenth Amendment Center: “The Second Amendment was not written to protect the rights of hunters…. It was written to protect the rights of the hunted – whether those that are hunting us or our family are common criminals or a tyrannical government that no longer respects the Constitution, the Rule of Law, or our God-given rights as human beings.”  She went on to add:

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Rhode Island Legislation would Legalize Marijuana, Nullify Feds

 R.I. lawmakers Rep. Ajello and Sen. Nesselbush to introduce matching bills to legalize marijuana

Providence, R.I.: February Following on the steps of voters legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington last fall, Rhode Island State Representative Edith Ajello and State Senator Donna Nesselbush have introduced companion bills on Wednesday February 6th to legalize marijuana and establish a system where it is taxed and regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.

The new law will partially nullify the Federal drug war against marijuana that has unsuccessfully raged for approximately 70 years and seen countless people sent to prison. State lawmakers have already passed legislation, effective April 1, to decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, making it a civil violation. But the new bills would go further, making possession of limited amounts legal for adults 21 and older.

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