As if the Obama administration doesn’t already have enough problems when it comes to health care reform, here’s another to add to the list. In a letter Thursday to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, eleven Republican state attorneys general claim that the administration’s repeated changing of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) without consulting Congress is unlawful.
Specifically, the attorneys general call into question the Obama administration’s recent decision to allow Americans whose plans will be canceled under the Affordable Care Act a “hardship exemption,” allowing them to wait until 2015 to register for insurance while others will have to pay a penalty if they fail to register by March 31, 2014. According to Newsmax, the attorneys called the change "flatly illegal under federal constitutional and statutory law." The change was made in response to the backlash President Obama received for promising already-insured Americans that they would be able to keep their coverage if they’re happy with it, despite the implementation of the Obamacare health care exchanges. Unfortunately, those Americans, many of whom relied on the President’s reassurances, will have to cancel their plans in order to comply with Obamacare.
“If you have been notified that your individual market policy will not be renewed, you will be eligible for a hardship exemption,” announced the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. All one has to do is “complete a hardship exemption form and indicate that your current health insurance policy is being cancelled, and you consider other available policies unaffordable.”
But these GOP state attorneys general, hailing from West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma, and Virginia say that allowing the hardship exemption was circumventing the power of Congress. "We support allowing citizens to keep their health insurance coverage, but the only way to fix this problem-ridden law is to enact changes lawfully: through Congressional action," the attorneys general wrote. "The illegal actions by this administration must stop."
"The President has argued that his administrative ‘fix’ is a lawful exercise of enforcement discretion, but his actions go well beyond the discretion provided under the Supreme Court's precedents," the letter continued.
The Obama administration has not immediately responded to the letter, probably because administration officials are busy asking the U.S. Supreme Court not to exempt Catholic groups from the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. In the meantime, you can click here to read the full text of the letter.