Shutting Down The Government Won’t Stop Obamacare

Capitol Building Dusk

Ted Cruz and other Republicans are advocating shutting down the government as a way to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act. However, a new study suggests that such a strategy won’t work:

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act would continue during a government shutdown, according to a Congressional Research Service report commissioned by the office of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

According to the report, the government could rely on both mandatory and discretionary funding during a shutdown to continue with implementation, and agencies could continue working despite lacking appropriations, under exceptions to the Antideficiency Act.

The report notes that the Social Security Administration continued working during the 1995 shutdown. The Treasury indicated that the Internal Revenue Service, which plays a vital role in Obamacare, would continue to operate when a shutdown loomed in 2011.

The Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff comments:

Coburn has made no secret of his absolute opposition to defunding Obamacare. “As soon as the first Medicare bills go unpaid, where do you think the pressure will be?” he told me last week. “And what’s the likelihood the president will collapse on the most significant legislative accomplishment of his administration?”

The CRS report is another way to attack defunding: by pointing out that, even if the federal government shuts down, Obamacare can still continue pretty much apace.

“It appears that substantial ACA implementation might continue during a lapse in annual appropriations that resulted in a temporary government shutdown,” CRS analysts concluded.

For one, Health and Human Services would be able to rely on “sources of funding other than annual discretionary appropriations to support implementation activities, including multiple-year and non-year discretionary funds still available for obligation as well as mandatory funds.”

A quick refresher on mandatory funds: These are billions in federal dollars that were appropriated by the Affordable Care Act and can’t be touched without repealing Obamacare itself.

The tax subsidies to purchase health insurance, for example, are considered mandatory funds. “Therefore, the funds for such credits would continue to be available via permanent appropriation during a government shutdown,” CRS concludes. While the IRS hasn’t gamed out the exact situation, the researchers believe “it may be likely that at least some of the eligibility and processing functions associated with payment of this credit might continue during a government shutdown.”

Other Obamacare programs that the CRS doesn’t believe a shutdown would stop include the federal health insurance marketplace, the state-based insurance marketplaces and the individual mandate. Otherwise known as the most significant portions of the Affordable Care Act.

In other words, the only way to stop the Affordable Care Act would be to repeal it in toto, and there’s no way that will be happening before at least January 20, 2017. Anything else you hear from Republican politicians is just a bunch of hyperbole.

Here’s the full CRS Memorandum to Senator Coburn:

CRS Memo on Gov Shutdown and Obamacare by dmataconis

FILED UNDER: Congress, Health Care, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    In other news, researchers have discovered that temper tantrums by children are rarely successful…

  2. Anonne says:

    They are counting on the Fox propaganda machine to work magic. They are counting on the stupidity of the base and Americans in general, that they will believe that it is all the Democrats’ fault.

  3. Grumpy says:

    Let it collapse under it’s own weight, and take the democrats with it..

    Something no-one has seriously factored in is younger people opting out-

    Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner has just announce Obamacare will increase rates as much as 198% with the heaviest hit on the young and healthy.. Most people and businesses would deal with a 10 or 15% increase. Once it gets past that, a significant number of people will start saying screw this.. At 198% more of the population will opt out, then will comply…

    There is no way businesses can absorb that kind of hit, the number of people working full time will plummet,,

    Congress won’t be in any mood to increase the penalties — whoops –SCOTUS says it’s a tax– Congress won’t be in any mood to increase the tax rate for non compliance..

    Instead of 50-55% of Americans wanting it repealed, you’ll have everyone in the county who has to work for a living, demanding it’s repeal…. and Obama’s impeachment

  4. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grumpy: You haven’t thought this through.

    Let it collapse under it’s own weight, and take the democrats with it..

    When it collapses, then it we will be told that it’s too late to go back to the existing system. So the only option at that point? Single payer. The government takes it over entirely.

    ObamaCare can’t work? No kidding. That was the plan all along.

  5. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The interesting part is that countries with single payer tend to spend less than we do for better health outcomes.

    I mean, let’s face it – according to the CIA, we’re 50th in infant mortality. the UN has us coming in at #34.

    According to WHO, we rank #38, while being #1 in expenditure. The next 19 countries by expenditure all rank higher than we do.

    We spend $8,223 per man, woman and child in the US. The next three countries by expenditure, Norway, The Netherlands and Switzerland, all spend less than $3,000. Meanwhile we have fewer practicing physicians and fewer hospital beds per 1,000 people.

    In exchange for a system that eats 17.6% of US GDP, and rising at a rate that consistently outpaces inflation. The next highest in that regard, The Netherlands, spends 12% of GDP.

    It might be more apt to say that the US has excellent health care, IF you have insurance or IF you can afford it. The system has depressed wages and resulted in a massive shift of healthcare obligations to upper bracket taxpayers, while tying people to jobs and limiting their professional mobility. It’s clearly problematic and unsustainable.

    So, if you don’t like Obamacare, then give me an alternative that will give me European health outcomes at European expenditure rates. The only one I’ve seen thus far is single payer, so if this leads to that, I’ll consider us lucky.

  6. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Facts lose out to inchoate rage every time.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    “…Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner has just announce Obamacare will increase rates as much as 198% with the heaviest hit on the young and healthy…”

    GA’s Insurance Commisioner…Hudgens…has been a vocal opponent of the PPACA…so him listing an extreme case makes sense. More level-headed appraisals of the GA impact are out their. Grumpy chose not to discuss them…never let facts stand in the way of a fever-swamp rage. According to “Georgians for a Healthy Future” six of seven insurers submitted reasonable rates.
    Yes…some people are going to pay more, some will pay less. The overall picture is that the rate-increase curve is being flattened by Obamacare…and that scares the Republican fundamentalists. Bottoom line is that far more people will have insurance, including those previously unable to purchase insurance because of pre-existing conditions or lack of sufficient income. And free-riders will be greatly reduced.

    Look…people like Grumpy and Jenos just want to say f*ck those people.
    There’s really no talking sense into hateful motherf’ers like that.

  8. bill says:

    @HarvardLaw92: one of the things that could happen from obamacare is doctors just dropping out the insurance biz altogether and charging a nominal fee for service. without the excess staff needed to file/fight with ins.co’s. their costs drop and they get paid on demand. we’ll still have a 2 tiered system as the wealthy will always get what they want while the rest of us wait in line. all this fuss over something that was supposed to help around 12% of the populace is nuts.

  9. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I know at least one of your statistics is the result of apples and oranges.

    I mean, let’s face it – according to the CIA, we’re 50th in infant mortality. the UN has us coming in at #34.

    That statistic is the result of differing standard definitions and conditions of “infant mortality.”

    And we’ve never had a health care availability crisis. We’ve had a health care funding issue, but by law people can’t be denied health care because of an inability to pay. And the current system worked for the majority of people — the most generous estimate of people without insurance was around 45 million, leaving over 250 million for whom it was not a crisis.

  10. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @bill:

    Eh, while you might see isolated instances of that happening, I don’t many doctors being willing to slash their incomes like that choice would entail simply to make a point.

  11. JKB says:

    @An Interested Party: In other news, researchers have discovered that temper tantrums by children are rarely successful…

    A lesson the Progs can’t seem to comprehend. For every time they don’t get their way they take to the streets to stamp their feet and hold their breath till they turn blue. On occasion, so often as to become cliche, they throw things, rampage and randomly attack people.

  12. JKB says:

    @HarvardLaw92: So, if you don’t like Obamacare, then give me an alternative that will…

    How about you not be gimme, gimme, gimme all the time?

    On the other hand, we can go to the “better outcome” single payer system. Outcomes go way up if you leave patients to bleed out in ambulances so they don’t enter “they system” or starve and dehydrate patients in the hospital when they are too sick or old to care for themselves. And let’s not forget the women who die of ovarian cancer because they don’t meet the bureaucrats age limit on testing.

  13. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    So I’m guessing that your statement applies to Tea Party rallies as well?

  14. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: So… the insurance commissioner is to be ignored, but an organization set up to push ObamaCare is to be taken as gospel. Got it.

    Yes…some people are going to pay more, some will pay less.

    But the important thing: all will pay. Everyone will pay, willing or not, or be punished by the IRS. Unless Obama decides to unilaterally decide to keep postponing his own law as passed, taking upon himself the right to rewrite existing laws.

  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    How about you not be gimme, gimme, gimme all the time?

    LOL, how about you blow me?

    If he’s going to whine about getting rid of something, then I want to hear what he proposes to replace it with. The status quo clearly can’t be sustained, so I want to hear proposed solutions, not generalized whining about what people dislike.

    Outcomes go way up if you leave patients to bleed out in ambulances so they don’t enter “they system” or starve and dehydrate patients in the hospital when they are too sick or old to care for themselves. And let’s not forget the women who die of ovarian cancer because they don’t meet the bureaucrats age limit on testing.

    (Reputable) source please.

  16. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    But the important thing: all will pay. Everyone will pay, willing or not, or be punished by the IRS

    You left out the part about the charge being essentially uncollectable. IRS has no ability to enforce collection beyond offset of certain federal payments like tax refunds. They can’t levy or lien for this one.

  17. C. Clavin says:

    “…Everyone will pay…”

    Well yeah…so what’s your point? Or are you so blinded by rage you don’t even know what your point is?
    Now – My firms insurance rates were going up at around 25-30% a year.
    With Obamacare the increases will be less because the curve is being bent downward.
    Now – The people that don’t pay now…the rest of us have to pay for.
    With Obamacare there will be far fewer free-riders for the rest of us to carry.

  18. C. Clavin says:

    “…one of the things that could happen from obamacare is doctors just dropping out the insurance biz altogether and charging a nominal fee for service. without the excess staff needed to file/fight with ins.co’s. their costs drop and they get paid on demand. we’ll still have a 2 tiered system as the wealthy will always get what they want while the rest of us wait in line…”

    And another thing that could happen is that Unicorns will fly.

  19. C. Clavin says:

    “…Outcomes go way up if you leave patients to bleed out in ambulances so they don’t enter “they system” or starve and dehydrate patients in the hospital when they are too sick or old to care for themselves. And let’s not forget the women who die of ovarian cancer because they don’t meet the bureaucrats age limit on testing…”

    If your argument against Obamacare comes down to this fictional nonsense…then you just don’t have much of an argument, now do you?

  20. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    We’ve had a health care funding issue, but by law people can’t be denied health care because of an inability to pay. And the current system worked for the majority of people — the most generous estimate of people without insurance was around 45 million, leaving over 250 million for whom it was not a crisis.

    Well, yea, I addressed that. An all you can eat buffet being paid for largely by someone else would never be seen as a crisis by the people filling up their plates.

    The broader point is that the status quo is not sustainable. It doesn’t, or it shouldn’t, take a rocket scientist to look at a cost growth rate that outpaces inflation, year after year, to see that eventually you arrive at a point where you are spending 100% of GDP on that cost. It would, of course, implode long before it reached that point.

    So again, same question as before – what do YOU propose to replace it with?

  21. rudderpedals says:

    Serious replacements proposed for Obamacare:

    – Bartering livestock for medical services
    – Comparison shopping while ill
    – Race-to-bottom state regulations for insurance

    Remember, these are serious proposals. Deluded, but serious.

  22. Caj says:

    What part of Obamacare is law of the land don’t these idiotic members in the GOP get? Do they really think that they have so much power they can overturn this law? I daresay they might as they don’t live in the real world like the rest of the country. Unicorns and fairies run around the glades in the world they live in. Such a waste of time and embarrassment to the country with this never ending nonsense. John Boehner is the biggest joke of all. He has the guts of a church mouse as he’s scared to death of these fools in his caucus. He needs to go. We need Nancy Pelosi back in charge, she at least could rally her caucus and keep them in line. Strong house speaker unlike ‘tanning while I smoke Boehner’!

  23. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    But the important thing: all will pay. Everyone will pay, willing or not, or be punished by the IRS.

    I thought fiscal conservatives *hated* free riders. So why you would prefer the current alternative – that your taxes go to cover expensive post-condition Emergency Room care for the uninsured?

  24. @Gromitt Gunn: And if it isn’t your taxes, it’s the amount you and I (or our insurance companies) are paying for the treatment we receive.

    If the hospital can’t get the money from the stiffs that come in there because they either won’t, or can’t, pay, it’s you and me picking up the tab when the hospital writes it off as “charity care”.

    But I think the mistake that we’re both making is that we expect intellectual consistency from folks like Jenos.

  25. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Caj: What part of Obamacare is law of the land don’t these idiotic members in the GOP get? Do they really think that they have so much power they can overturn this law?

    If it’s the law of the land, how come Obama’s declaring that he’s postponing part of it?

  26. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @HarvardLaw92: So again, same question as before – what do YOU propose to replace it with?

    False choice. ObamaCare (much like many of Obama’s policies) take a situation and make it worse.

  27. Tillman says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I think you’re using fallacies fallaciously there.

  28. C. Clavin says:

    “…False choice. ObamaCare (much like many of Obama’s policies) take a situation and make it worse…”

    That’s your opinion…which, if anyone reads your comments, is based on nonsense.

  29. NickTamere says:

    In case anyone doesn’t feel like taking a shower and clicking on Jenos’ National Review link:

    Throughout the developed world, and regardless of the health-care system, infant-mortality rates are far worse among minority populations, and the U.S. has much more diversity of race and ethnicity than any other developed nation. Whether in wholly government-run health-care systems — like Canada’s, or the U.K.’s NHS — or in the mixed U.S. system, racial and ethnic minorities have higher infant-mortality rates, roughly double those of the majority. While these disparities are among the most perplexing problems in society, they are extremely complex, identifiable even when other risk factors (including maternal age, marital status, and education) are taken into account, and often entirely separate from health-care quality. Population heterogeneity specifically distorts mortality rates in the U.S., because the racial-ethnic heterogeneity of the U.S. is far higher, four to eight times that found in Western European nations like Sweden, Norway, France and the UK.

    I get the feeling he’d rather eliminate those minority infant death statistics rather than the infant deaths themselves. And note that “economic status” is not listed as one of the risk factors controlled for, which is far more useful than “maternal age, marital status, and education”. Our estimated infant mortality rate for 2013 is twice that of France. This is not because they undercount and we “overcount”, it’s because we have states like Mississippi and Alabama where almost 1% of infants will die in the first year.

  30. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    And I don’t necessarily dispute that assertion. It’s hardly an ideal choice, but, yet again, what do you propose to replace it with. Give me a better alternative and I’ll get behind it.

  31. Tillman says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Well, I do. You have to have only two options to qualify as a false choice, not “one defined option and another undefined option that can be anything I can come up with.”

    I can accept that the economic mechanics at work in crafting health care legislation would be beyond Jenos (or most anyone else here), but that’s the more humble route no one takes.

  32. C. Clavin says:

    Infant mortality?
    People like Jenos only care for children up until they exit the womb…after that…the little f’ers are on their own.

  33. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Tillman:

    I was more going along with the assertion that Obamacare isn’t ideal and in many ways may create more problems than it solves.

    Taking a system predicated on third party payment of private insurers and driven by consumers operating without any real cost boundaries who are almost entirely insulated from the real costs of their healthcare decisions, and adding more of those consumers to that model, virtually insures that overall costs will go up. It fails to address the underlying (and fundamental, IMO) problem with the US healthcare model – namely that people who do not have to consider cost will make economically imprudent decisions based solely on their wants as opposed to their needs. They are like the guy at the all you can eat buffet – removed from cost considerations, he will gorge himself, without worrying about the cost.

    At least that’s what I see when I look at it anyway. Healthcare providers, of course, will cheerfully fulfill those wants. Want an MRI? Step right up. Want a CAT scan? Well sure …

    Whether they NEED these procedures is often immaterial. The machines cost money and have to generate revenue to pay for themselves & provide a profit. Of course no hospital is going to discourage their use. The model itself, IMO, is fundamentally and profoundly flawed.

  34. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: Infant mortality?
    People like Jenos only care for children up until they exit the womb…after that…the little f’ers are on their own.

    oh, blow it out your ass, Cliffy. Just be careful to not injure your brain while doing so.

  35. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos Idanian #13

    blow it out your ass, Cliffy

    Weren’t you whining about this sort of thing on another thread about three seconds ago and giving yourself a big pat on the back for not playing that game?

  36. C. Clavin says:

    “…oh, blow it out your ass, Cliffy…”

    Crusaders always hate being called on their own BS.

  37. LaMont says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    How is it a “false choice” when you are allowed to create your own choice? What would you do different? Your hell-bent bias against Obama/ACA is evident.

    This is what I do not get about these extreme right-wingers. You have a platform to move forward in ways to make it better. Yet, they would rather piss away their time crapping on a bill that is instrumental in spurring what should be relevant and important debate/discussion on the matter. It’s imcompetency at it’s highest form. A true waste of everyone’s time.

  38. anjin-san says:

    he most generous estimate of people without insurance was around 45 million, leaving over 250 million for whom it was not a crisis.

    Well, there are some among us who would say that having 45 million of our fellow citizens living with day to day risk due to lack of insurance is a crisis for all.

    Then there is the “I’ve got mine, screw you pal” crowd. Of course we know that should those folks find themselves uninsured, most of them would not hesitate to queue up at the public trough…

  39. David M says:

    @Grumpy:

    Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner has just announce Obamacare will increase rates as much as 198% with the heaviest hit on the young and healthy..

    Given the numbers were from a politician who wants to make Obamacare look bad, the actual increase will be nowhere near 198%. A little common sense and you would have known the number was BS.

    50-55% of Americans [want Obamacare] repealed

    Not exactly true, as a significant number of those want it replaced with single-payer health care, and another group want it replaced with Romneycare.

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    the most generous estimate of people without insurance was around 45 million, leaving over 250 million for whom it was not a crisis.

    Apparently you’re unfamiliar with how the health insurance market works. That 250 million certainly included people who could not leave their job without losing their insurance, people who were underinsured, people who could not change policies, etc. By no means did the earlier market work for everyone that had insurance.

  40. wr says:

    @C. Clavin: “People like Jenos only care for children up until they exit the womb…after that…the little f’ers are on their own. ”

    Now let’s be fair to Jenos. He really doesn’t care about children while they’re still in the womb, either. It’s just that he noticed that liberals are generally pro-choice, so his anti-choice ravings will irritate them.

    He explained all this in a thread on gun restrictions. He never cared about gun control, then he noticed that liberals were in favor of it. So he did some “research” to find out what right-wingers said on the subject, and then started reciting their writings every time the subject comes up.

    Hard to imagine his passionate defense of stripping rights away from women is any different. Except maybe that this is a two-fer — it annoys liberals and hates all those women who wouldn’t go out with him (or who he was to afraid to ask out).

  41. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    The WHO is the best number to use, as it has standardized and uses it’s own definitions in all countries, so the bit about differing definitions doesn’t wash. The WHO numbers are solid.

    And we’ve never had a health care availability crisis. We’ve had a health care funding issue, but by law people can’t be denied health care because of an inability to pay. And the current system worked for the majority of people — the most generous estimate of people without insurance was around 45 million, leaving over 250 million for whom it was not a crisis.

    It is also an availability problem. Hospitals are not allowed to turn away someone who will die without their intervention, they are free to turn away little Timmy or Sally with an ear infection until it becomes life threatening and MUCH more expensive to treat. Guess who is going to pay for little uninsured Timmy and Sally, when their parents can’t. Pulling everyone into the system helps prevent these situations and spends $50 of antibiotics to avoid 1000s in hospital bills down the line and permanent hearing damage to the child.
    What you are failing to recognize with your “we are all being forced to pay” diatribes, is that we are all already forced to pay, but in a considerably less efficient manner, with worse outcomes for at least 1/6th of us.

  42. bill says:

    @C. Clavin: so your rates are still going to go up? after a few years of 25-30% increases I’d say it’s time to just get “catastrophic” and roll the dice. but somehow obamacare is going to be better?

  43. C. Clavin says:

    bill…
    Clearly you don’t have a very strong grasp of what’s actually going on in the real world.
    Which makes me wonder about the views you hold onto so dearly.
    I mean…if they are based on nothing…then you would think you might question them when confronted with conflicting facts. At least an intelligent person would.

  44. C. Clavin says:

    @ wr…

    “…Now let’s be fair to Jenos. He really doesn’t care about children while they’re still in the womb, either. It’s just that he noticed that liberals are generally pro-choice, so his anti-choice ravings will irritate them…”

    I think you are onto something. And it’s not just Jenos…god knows he/she has never had an independent thought…but the entirety of the Republican party.
    I’m willing to bet if Obama came out and said he wanted to repeal Obamacare…Republicans would fight him on it.

  45. bill says:

    @C. Clavin: ok, i’ll make it easier to understand your own quote.

    Now – My firms insurance rates were going up at around 25-30% a year.
    With Obamacare the increases will be less because the curve is being bent downward.

    let’s say you were paying $100/mo. for ins. after 3 yrs of increases at just a 25% annual increase you’d be paying $195/mo. you also stated that you’re ins will still go up but not as much with obamacare- so you’ll be paying twice what you were 4 yrs ago- and that’s ok with you.
    now you wonder why the unions, (federal included) want to be exempt from this wondrous plan?
    what’s so hard to understand about that?

  46. C. Clavin says:

    “…now you wonder why the unions, (federal included) want to be exempt from this wondrous plan? what’s so hard to understand about that?…”

    Numbskull…the unions want to be exempt because Obamacare has limitations on “Cadillac” plans…that unions support. If you are going to hold strong views on the issues you should try to understand the issues before forming those strong views.

    “…let’s say you were paying $100/mo. for ins. after 3 yrs of increases at just a 25% annual increase you’d be paying $195/mo. you also stated that you’re ins will still go up but not as much with obamacare- so you’ll be paying twice what you were 4 yrs ago- and that’s ok with you…”

    It’s not OK with me…but under Obamacare the increases will be less than they were before Obamacare…so yes, better is good. At least in the real world. Perhaps your world is different. Republicans want to go back to the staus quo and astronomical increases. Glad you support that. I do not.

  47. bill says:

    @C. Clavin: did it ever occur to you that your rates increased in anticipation of Obamacare? And if you listened to him then they should be dropping…so the decrease looks like something after a few years of big increases….but if they’re still rising then something has gone even more wrong……..logic evades you I guess. But hey, he appreciates illogical folks.

  48. fred says:

    Finally Pres Obama is taking it to the GOP and fighting back against their obstruction. Supporters have been waiting for Pres to act in over 4 yrs. Keep up the good work Mr Pres and keep educating ppl as to what the GOP fascists (that’s what they are today) have been doing to our country.