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  1. #426
    Senior Member animosity's Avatar
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    NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

    Several restaurants in a Florida chain are asking customers to help foot the bill for Obamacare.

    Diners at eight Gator's Dockside casual eateries are finding a 1% Affordable Care Act surcharge on their tabs, which comes to 15 cents on a typical $15 lunch tab. Signs on the door and at tables alert diners to the fee, which is also listed separately on the bill.

    The Gator Group's full-time hourly employees won't actually receive health insurance until December. But the company said it implemented the surcharge now because of the compliance costs it's facing ahead of the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate kicking in in 2015.

    "The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors," the sign reads. "Instead of raising prices on our products to generate the additional revenue needed to cover the costs of ACA compliance, certain Gator's Dockside locations have implemented a 1% surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only."

    The company employs a total of 500 people, with about half working full-time. Currently only management receives health benefits, but the restaurant will have to offer coverage to all full-timers once the mandate takes effect. The fee will allow the company to continue offering full-time hours to many workers, according to Sandra Clark, the group's director of operations.

    "I'm just trying to keep the employees I have that I've worked hard to train," Clark said.

    In addition to the costs of providing health care, the company hired one additional staffer and a consulting firm to make sure it is complying with the law and to assist in the additional tracking of workers' hours and wages required by Obamacare, said Clark.

    Clark is not sure how much the company is spending on compliance, but estimates that it will cost $500,000 a year to extend insurance to its full-time hourly restaurant workers. The surcharge may bring in about $160,000 a year, she hopes.

    Thirteen other Gator's Dockside restaurants, which are run by a different firm and its franchisees, are not implementing the fee.

    Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, an upscale restaurant is also asking guests to pony up for its employee health care costs.

    Since it opened in November, Republique's tab comes with an optional 3% surcharge that allows it to employ all of its 80 workers full-time and provide them with health insurance. The fee is explained in a sign and on the menu, and servers explain it to diners without prompting.

    The surcharge is not related to Obamacare, a restaurant spokeswoman said. The eatery is not subject to the employer mandate until 2016 because it has fewer than 100 workers, but it already offers coverage to its staff.

    How are customers reacting to the fee? So far, most people are paying it, she said.
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  2. #427
    Lionfish Whisperer PCP777's Avatar
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    This turned out to be a good thing. I actually found a bad ass health plan through it, we pay more out of pocket each month than we did but the coverage is way better for me and my family. My wife was able to get the surgery on her neck. With the subprime insurance I was paying for earlier, which was less expensive, this could have never happened. The better prescription coverage more than makes up the difference.

    Anyone who is self paying for the insurance should definately hit before enrollment ends on 3/31. I only know one person who claims their premiums went up. I think they didn't do it right.

    BTW, employers under 50 employees are not effected, others don't have to worry until next year.

  3. #428
    fun hater Shins's Avatar
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    That's awesome PCP, glad to hear the good news.

    Three of my cousins have local businesses and it's not effecting them since they don't have over 50 employees. 50 is a lot, so most businesses should be fine. If they have more than that then they're probably doing decent enough in profit to get a plan for their workers.
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  4. #429
    Senior Member puzzld's Avatar
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    Glad to hear it PCP.

    Even tho I have insurance from work... it's nice to know that if I changed jobs or something I won't be "pre-existing"ed out of coverage.
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  5. #430
    Senior Member JohnLanders's Avatar
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    Supreme Court appears poised to leave the ACA intact

    The Supreme Court seemed likely Tuesday to leave in place the bulk of the Affordable Care Act, including key protections for pre-existing health conditions and subsidized insurance premiums that affect tens of millions of Americans.

    Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, among the conservative justices, appeared in two hours of arguments to be unwilling to strike down the entire law — a long-held Republican goal that has repeatedly failed in Congress and the courts — even if they were to find the law’s now-toothless mandate for obtaining health insurance to be unconstitutional.

    The court’s three liberal justices are almost certain to vote to uphold the law in its entirety and presumably would form a majority by joining a decision that cut away only the mandate, which now has no financial penalty attached to it. Congress zeroed out the penalty in 2017, but left the rest of the law untouched.

    “Would Congress want the rest of the law to survive if the unconstitutional provision were severed? Here, Congress left the rest of the law intact,” Roberts said. “That seems to be a compelling answer to the question.”

    For his part, Kavanaugh said recent decisions by the court suggest “that the proper remedy would be to sever the mandate and leave the rest of the act in place.”

    A week after the 2020 election, the justices heard arguments by telephone in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in the court’s third major case over the 10-year-old law, popularly known as “Obamacare.” Republican attorneys general in 18 states and the administration want the whole law to be struck down, which would threaten coverage for more than 23 million people.

    California, leading a group of Democratic-controlled states, and the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives are urging the court to leave the law in place.

    Kavanaugh is one of three justices appointed by President Donald Trump on a court that is more conservative than the ones that sustained the law in previous challenges in 2012 and 2015. The others are Neil Gorsuch and new Justice Coney Barrett, who joined the court late last month following her hurried nomination and confirmation to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    The three Trump appointees have never ruled on the substance of the health care law. Barrett, though, has been critical of the court’s earlier major health care decisions sustaining the law, both written by Roberts.

    The Supreme Court could have heard the case before the election, but set arguments for a week after. The timing could add a wrinkle to the case since President-elect Joe Biden strongly supports the health care law.

    The case turns on a change made by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2017 that reduced the penalty for not having health insurance to zero. Without the penalty, the law’s mandate to have health insurance is unconstitutional, the GOP-led states argue.

    If the mandate goes, they say, the rest of the law should go with it because the mandate was central to the law’s passage.

    However, enrollment in the law’s insurance markets has stayed relatively stable at more than 11 million people, even after the effective date of the penalty’s elimination in 2019. According to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, enrollment dropped by about 300,000 people from 2018 to 2019. Kaiser estimates 11.4 million people have coverage this year.

    An additional 12 million people have coverage through the law’s Medicaid expansion.

    The legal argument could well turn on the legal doctrine of severability, the idea that the court can excise a problematic provision from a law and allow the rest of it to remain in force. The justices have done just that in other rulings in recent years.

    But in the first big ACA case in 2012, Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas voted to strike down the entire law. Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor have voted to uphold it.

    A limited ruling would have little real-world consequence. The case could also be rendered irrelevant if the new Congress were to restore a modest penalty for not buying health insurance.

    A decision is expected by late spring.

  6. #431
    Don't drink sanitizer! raisedbywolves's Avatar
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    Supreme Court appears poised to leave the ACA intact

    Supreme Court appears to signal Obamacare will survive latest GOP challenge

    Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggested Tuesday that it wasn't the Supreme Court's role to invalidate the entire sprawling, 900-page Affordable Care Act, even if one or more provisions are deemed unconstitutional, signaling the key parts of Obamacare will survive the latest court challenge.

    As the pandemic rages, President Donald Trump lashes out at election returns and President-elect Joe Biden prepares for a new administration, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments to discuss whether to invalidate the linchpin of the nation's health care system.

    The Trump administration and several Republican-led states are asking the court to strike down the law, 10 years after it was passed, potentially impacting millions of Americans. Should Roberts and Kavanaugh, at the very least, side with the court's three liberals, the law would remain intact.

    Roberts said simply that if Trump and Republicans wanted to kill the law, they could have done it.

    "I think it's hard for you to argue that Congress intended the entire act to fall if the mandate was struck down when the same Congress that lowered the penalty to zero did not even try to repeal the rest of the act," Roberts told the attorney representing Texas, one of the states fighting the law.
    "I think, frankly, that they wanted the court to do that, but that's not our job," Roberts added.

    At another point Kavanaugh told a lawyer supporting the law that he tended to agree with his position that some provisions could be severed if necessary.
    Roberts and other justices began their questions asking whether the individual plaintiffs and Republican-led states can show that they have the legal injury necessary to allow them to bring the challenge to the law. This discussion on standing is a dry legal concept but it could be critical.

    Supporters of the law say the challengers have no legal injury because after Congress amended the law in 2017 there is no longer a penalty for failing to buy health insurance. Lawyers for the Democratic-led states and the House of Representatives say the court should therefore dismiss the challenges
    But several of the justices floated hypotheticals suggesting that even if there was no longer a penalty for not following a regulation there could still be an injury, suggesting that a challenge could be brought.

    Justice Clarence Thomas, for instance, asked about a potential regulation that required someone to wear a mask, even if there were no penalty for a failure to do so.

    "What if someone violates that command, let's say it's in similar terms to the mandate here but no penalty, would they have standing to challenge the mandate to wear a mask?" Thomas asked.

    So far, the justices have lain low, avoiding any significant participation in post-election litigation, but now all eyes will be on the court as it sorts through the most controversial case of the term, which could impact tens of millions of Americans -- including roughly 20 million who have gained coverage over the law's exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults.

    Also at risk are popular provisions that protect those with preexisting conditions as well as those that allow parents to keep their children on their health insurance plans until the age of 26.

    Third time back at the court

    The dispute pits California and other Democratic-led states against Texas and Republican-led states plus the Trump administration.

    This is the third time the court has heard a significant challenge to the law, although this time the stakes are heightened given the implications of Covid-19, the catastrophic deaths and the current burdens facing the health care industry.

    In 2012, Roberts cast the key vote in a 5-4 decision that stunned Republicans, holding that the law's individual coverage mandate was valid under Congress' taxing power. By 2017, the Republican-led Congress cut the tax penalty for those who lacked insurance to zero as part of the year-end tax overhaul.

    The Republican-led states sued, arguing that since the mandate was no longer tied to a specific tax penalty, it had lost its legal underpinning. They also argued that because the individual mandate was intertwined with a multitude of other provisions, the entire law should fall, including protections for people with preexisting conditions.

    Last December, a federal appeals court held that the individual mandate was unconstitutional. But critically, the court punted on whether the rest of the massive law -- even provisions unrelated to the mandate -- could remain on the books.

    In court papers, Texas Solicitor General Kyle D. Hawkins said the 2017 change made it "impossible to fairly interpret" the mandate as a tax and concluded that it is unconstitutional. He argued that not only would provisions concerning preexisting conditions fall, but also the entire massive law.

    Hawkins said that without the individual mandate, which serves as the "operational core" to the law, "other major provisions shift healthcare benefits and burdens across the sector with little rhyme or reason.'"

    The Trump administration has sided with Texas for the most part, although it has made a relatively new argument that the entire law should fall but the ruling should apply only to the 18 states that brought the challenge. Texas told the justices that it thinks the Justice Department's narrowed remedy would cause chaos. "Invalidating the ACA in a more limited geographic area would force citizens of the respondent States to heavily subsidize other States with their general tax dollars," Hawkins said.

    During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly said he would come up with an alternative but never issued any substantive details. His three Supreme Court appointees -- Justices Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett -- will play a key role in deciding the future of the law.

    Barrett, before taking the bench, expressed criticism concerning Roberts' reasoning to uphold the law. But during her confirmation hearings last month she declined to tip her hand as to how she might rule on the dispute.

    In court Barrett too, zeroed in on the intent of Congress in 2017.

    "So what should we make of the fact that Congress didn't repeal the provision?" she asked.

  7. #432
    Don't drink sanitizer! raisedbywolves's Avatar
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    Continued from above

    Question of severability

    Supporters of the Affordable Care Act think the court should uphold the entire law. But in case it does strike down the mandate, they stress that Congress never meant to bring down the entire law when it made changes in 2017.

    "Congress made abundantly clear that it did not intend to incur the profound costs that would have resulted from repealing other provisions of the ACA," California Solicitor General Michael Mongan wrote in court briefs.

    "The circumstances here make it inconceivable that Congress would have wanted a statute on which millions of people rely for their health care and livelihoods to disappear overnight with the wave of a judicial wand," he added.

    Former US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, arguing on behalf of the House of Representatives, argued that the two individuals and Republican-led states do not have the legal injury necessary to bring the challenge. He said that now that Congress has brought the penalty down to zero, those who refuse to buy health insurance are no longer faced with a tax for failing to do so.

    "There is no threat -- much less a credible one -- that the federal government would take any action against the individual plaintiffs if they failed to purchase insurance," Verrilli said. He added that any injury to the states is speculative.

    He said the challenges "ask this Court to invalidate the entirety of the most transformative public health-care law of the last half-century because they view a single sentence in it as unconstitutional."

    Twice in the previous court term, the justices relied on severability doctrine to save laws after finding individual provisions unconstitutional. In one case Roberts wrote, "We think it clear that Congress would prefer that we use a scalpel rather than a bulldozer."

    In another case, Kavanaugh pressed his belief that the court in the case at hand should work to "salvage rather than destroy" a law with an unconstitutional provision.
    Some legal experts doubt that the justices would strike the down the whole law.

    Notre Dame Law professor Richard Garnett, who is close with Barrett, said in a statement that he doubted the court would invalidate the entire law. "Although in 2017 Congress lowered to zero the penalty for failing to comply with the so-called 'individual mandate,' there is very little chance that a majority of the justices will conclude that this move renders the entire ACA -- including portions dealing with coverage for pre-existing conditions -- unconstitutional," he said.

    And although Biden was vice president when the law passed, experts say the fact that the Senate may remain majority Republican will complicate his efforts to save the law.
    "Biden would need to pass a law to kick the case to the curb," said Nicholas Bagley, professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School.

    Bagley said such a law would be "simple" to draft. "Congress could increase the tax penalty to a nominal amount (say, $1); it could eliminate the language telling people to buy insurance; or it could add a severability clause. Any one of those laws would kill the case," he said.

    "If Republicans still control the Senate after this election, they're unlikely to play ball. Whatever the Supreme Court says is likely to stick."

    Near the end of the arguments acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall, perhaps making the Trump administration's last significant argument before the Supreme Court in a blockbuster case, said that the individual mandate "exceeds Congress' enumerated powers and that the court should leave it up to the "political branches to decide how to proceed."

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