Tag Archives: Rule of Law

Playing the Waiver Game: Bill Seeks Exemption from Individual Mandate

In response to a flood of waivers for unions, businesses, and employers to certain ObamaCare regulations, Republican Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan introduced a bill on Wednesday that would entitle Americans to waiver from the individual mandate if the law will significantly increase their premiums or otherwise deprive them of access to health insurance.

Surely Rep. Rogers echoed many Americans’ thoughts when he asked in a recent interview: “If the SEIU gets a waiver and McDonald’s gets a waiver…shouldn’t the average person who’s impacted by this get a waiver too?”
As the law’s waiver-granting process stands currently, individuals can apply for “hardship waivers” from buying insurance (and paying the penalty fee associated with evading the purchase) if the cost of medical insurance exceeds 8% of annual household income. But this does not take into account the higher premiums many others will be forced to pay because of the effects of ObamaCare. Rep. Rogers and Democratic co-sponsor Dan Boren of Oklahoma hope to accommodate these Americans. Also included in the bill is a waiver for larger employers from ObamaCare’s requirement that they provide affordable health insurance to employees or pay a fine.
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The List of ObamaCare’s Waivers Grows and Grows and Grows

The Obama Administration has recently announced a new round of waivers granting a “one-year exemption from a new coverage requirement” included in ObamaCare.  This latest waiver brings to 1,040 the total number of waivers affecting more than 2.6 million people who would otherwise have likely lost their insurance in 2011 due to dramatically higher prices brought about as a result of ObamaCare.  These waivers affect so-called “mini-med plans.”

HHS continues to tout the waivers as if HHS, and ObamaCare, was helping to ensure that people can keep their insurance. The fact is that there would be no need to “save” people’s insurance if ObamaCare did not exist in the first place. The House Ways & Means Committee released a statement that the growing numbers of waivers was, “another admission that the Democrats’ health care law is unworkable,” and asked the following question, “if the Obama Administration itself admits that the best way to help Americans keep what they have is to give them a waiver from the Democrats’ health care law, isn’t that a pretty good indication that the law is not working and should be repealed?”

AHEC has created a summary of the waivers issued through the first week of March 2011.

waiver2

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Waivers Undermine Rule of Law

In response to HHS’s flurry of waiver-granting a few weeks back, National Review has an insightful pieceexamining the (un)constitutionality of these exemptions from ObamaCare. Though much focus has recently (and rightfully) been on the questionable constitutional merits of the individual mandate, the 733 waivers are also worth considering from this legal angle.

Sure, it is disturbing – even if not unexpected – that HHS has admitted (see third paragraph here) that notgranting these waivers will result in Americans paying much more for their health insurance or, worse, lose it entirely. But perhaps even more worrying is what the granting of waivers suggests for the rule of law in our country:

More seriously, it raises questions about whether we live under a government of laws. Congress can pass statutes that apply to some businesses and not others, but once a law has passed — and therefore is binding — how can the executive branch relieve some Americans of their obligation to obey it?

In addition to highlighting the logistical and real-world nightmare that is ObamaCare, the current recipients of waivers demonstrate that the health care law only actually applies to those not part of powerful businesses or members of unions with significant political leverage. The massive inequity that currently exists in who is and is not exempt from ObamaCare has obvious real-life consequences. Some people are allowed to escape from the burdens of the law while others are forced to shoulder them.
But it also has serious theoretical problems for what our laws truly mean. One of the things The Founders sought an escape from was the absolute and arbitrary rule of kings. The waiver “culture” that surrounds ObamaCare embodies the unnatural, inexplicable, and ultimately unfair power over the law our multi-branch government was specifically designed to confront. This, coupled with the Administration’s most recent refusal to accept the binding nature of Judge Vinson’s decision in federal court voiding ObamaCare, really begs the question of what – if any – weight our laws still have.

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