While no one was watching, the Obama administration has made a unilateral change without Congress to the landmark Affordable Care Act known as “Obamacare.”
Aside from unapproved delays to help with it’s implementation to the granting of waivers to various corporations that coincidentally employ large numbers of Democrat voters, the administration has apparently stepped on the constitution again by granting a full waiver from the law to approximately 4.1 million citizens in five territories, including Guam and Puerto Rico.
Most didn’t notice when it happened a week ago, but these territories had been making their complaints known in D.C. for many months. Complaints about implementation and cost were getting louder and their insurance markets had been destabilized. Of course, this hasn’t been unique, and is being experienced in states as well.
For sure, residents weren’t required to buy insurance, but their providers were required to change their plans according to the law, making insurance expensive and out of reach for those in the territories. Most residents did not qualify for subsidies either, because the law appeared to be written so badly.
The Department of Health and Human Services has brushed off the complaints until recently, saying it couldn’t do anything because it is the law. The HHS literally said it had no authority to change the law, and pointed out that the law clearly defined “state” and “territory” for the purpose of implementation. Now, after a “careful review” some bureaucrats have decided that the definition of “state” means “territories.” Something changed. Perhaps political hubris? Disregard for the rule of law? A lack of knowledge in the English language? You pick.
Because of these actions by the administration, the House leadership has decided to file a lawsuit against the Executive branch. The merits of the case are strong, and this event makes it even stronger. What is unknown is whether it is feasible for the lawsuit to have any effect on this administration.
RNC spokesman Raffi Williams told FoxNews, “The White House knows that ObamaCare is a train wreck. Excluding the territories from their train wreck of a law is just the latest example of delays and waivers the administration has issued to quietly limit the damage of the law without admitting that they have ruined the American health care system.”
Now, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands are exempt from a law the White House clearly can see is falling apart.
“This means that the following Affordable Care Act requirements will not apply to individual or group health insurance issuers in the U.S. territories: guaranteed availability (PHS Act section 2702), community rating (PHS Act section 2701), single risk pool (Affordable Care Act section 1312(c)), rate review (PHS Act section 2794), medical loss ratio (PHS Act section 2718), and essential health benefits (PHS Act section 2707),”
After Tuesday’s ruling against the subsidization of federal health exchanges by the D.C. Court of Appeals, and the conflicting decision in the 4th Circuit court means the Supreme Court will surely be asked to rule on that part of the law. Meanwhile, in an unsurprising move, the administration is not halting the behavior ruled unlawful. This separate issue is simply one of many that seem to be piling on the last few weeks as the law is slowly picked apart for the unconstitutional monstrosity that it is.