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A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece reminding people that the Affordable Care Act explicitly prohibits insurance carriers from charging higher premiums for enrollees who voluntarily refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 (presumably not including those who can't do so due to being allergic, being immunocompromised, being under 12 years old, etc), and noting several reasons why this is the case.

I concluded, however, by noting that:

Having said that, those who don't get vaccinated will start facing more financial penalties soon anyway...a point which is included in the NY Times article above itself:

In 2020, before there were Covid-19 vaccines, most major private insurers waived patient payments — from coinsurance to deductibles — for Covid treatment. But many if not most have allowed that policy to lapse. Aetna, for example, ended that policy on Feb. 28; UnitedHealthcare began rolling back its waivers late last year and discontinued them by the end of March.

3-Legged Stool (original)

Over the past few weeks, as the Delta COVID-19 variant has surged across the country and COVID vaccination rates have plummeted, there's been a growing cry from many vaccinated Americans. Here's just a few examples:

Step up private sector. Mandate vaccinations for employees and consumers. Looking at you health insurance companies. Add insane premiums for those eligible yet refuse to be vaccinated. Deny hospital coverage for chosen unvaccinated hospital care.

— Ethan Embry (@EmbryEthan) August 3, 2021

It’s clear that new messaging—along with the obvious employer mandate—is having an impact.

Now’s a good time to require vaccines to fly.

Insurance companies should also raise premiums for the unvaccinated. Smokers pay more. Covid is more deadly than smoking—and it’s contagious. https://t.co/ob9d9ofoIn

— Angry Staffer (@Angry_Staffer) August 1, 2021

 

via Nicholas Bagley of The Incidental Economist:

Maryland files suit to protect health reform from Texas.

... the Maryland attorney general today filed a separate lawsuit in a Maryland district court. Among other things, he’s seeking an injunction requiring the continued enforcement of the law. Depending on how quickly the Maryland case moves, it’s possible we could see dueling injunctions—one ordering the Trump administration to stop enforcing the law, the other ordering it to keep enforcing.

That’s an unholy mess just waiting to happen. Now, it may not come to that. My best guess is that the Texas lawsuit will fizzle: any injunction will likely be stayed pending appeal, either by the Fifth Circuit or the Supreme Court, and the case is going nowhere on the merits. The Maryland lawsuit will likely prove unnecessary.

I don't have much to add to this other than to note how much this case underscores just how much power and importance state attorneys general have.

Reed O'Conner, the hard-right wing judge presiding over the idiotic #TexasFoldEm lawsuit which could potentially wipe out the Affordable Care Act as soon as January 1st, has been radio silent for the past week since he heard oral arguments over the case from the dueling bands of state Attorneys General.

However, if Tim Jost's description of how that hearing went is anything to go by, it's looking pretty ominous:

To enter the Fort Worth Courtroom of Judge Reed O’Connor on September 5, 2018, was to leave the real world.  The Affordable Care Act was once again on trial.  At stake was access to health care for the 20 million Americans who have gained coverage through the ACA, affordable coverage for 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, and preventive services coverage for 44 million Medicare beneficiaries.

 

Welp. This doesn't look good. As I noted earlier this afternoon, the insane #TexasFoldEm lawsuit held their oral arguments today, and as expected, the Republican-appointed judge in the case, Reed O'Connor, isn't exactly a fan of the ACA. Paul Demko lays out the bottom line in Politico:

U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, vigorously questioned attorneys during the three-hour hearing but gave no indication when he would rule.

Lawyers for the Trump administration partially agreed with the red states' argument, concluding that the removal of Obamacare's individual mandate requires striking down the law's insurance provisions, including protections for people with preexisting medical conditions.

But the administration disagreed on the need for immediate action, arguing that any remedies should not be applied until next year.

I noted this back in June, and the numbers are virtually identical today:

In June 2018, President Trump’s administration announced – as part of a lawsuit known as Texas v. United States, brought by 20 Republican state attorneys general – it will no longer defend the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Yes, this is the #TexasFoldEm case which has oral arguments happening even as I'm typing this.

 

via Elana Schor of Politico, a week or so ago:

Kavanaugh confirmation hearings set for Sept. 4

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation hearings will start on Sept. 4 and last between three and four days, Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced on Friday.

That scheduling tees up the GOP to meet its goal of getting President Donald Trump's pick seated on the high court by the time its term begins in early October, barring unforeseen obstacles or a breakthrough by Democrats who are pushing to derail Kavanaugh's confirmation.

The Supreme Court battle so far has focused on documents related to Kavanaugh's five years in the George W. Bush White House. Democrats have excoriated the GOP for declining to seek records from the nominee's time as Bush's staff secretary and condemned the Republican decision to rely on a Bush-driven review process for the early round of vetting, while the majority party hails the vast scope of documents that are set for release.

 

(Image via "Turtle Fart w/Loud Lord" on SoundCloud)

This is utter horseshit:

McConnell on Trump’s decision to support the Texas lawsuit that would invalidate Obamacare:

"Everybody I know in the Senate, everybody, is in favor of maintaining coverage for preexisting conditions. There's no difference in opinion about that whatsoever."

— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) June 12, 2018

Even if you ignore the multiple times over the years that he's promised (and voted) to "defund Obamacare" and "repeal it out root & branch"...

...there's still the matter of last year, when Senate Republicans introduced the "Better Care Reconciliation Act plan" (BCRAp), which looked something like this:

This is about as simple as I could make it. It's an absolutely absurd argument, but there it is: