Just when you thought that the trials and tribulations of the PPACA could not become more absurd, they do. Is panic too strong a word to describe the Administration’s decision to allow individuals whose policies have been cancelled as a consequence of the requirements of the PPACA and who believe that the insurance available to them on the exchanges is unaffordable to eschew having healthcare insurance?
The Obama administration on Thursday night significantly relaxed the rules of the federal health-care law for millions of consumers whose individual insurance policies have been canceled, saying they can buy bare-bones plans or entirely avoid a requirement that most Americans have health coverage.
The surprise announcement, days before the Dec. 23 deadline for people to choose plans that will begin Jan. 1, triggered an immediate backlash from the health insurance industry and raised fairness questions about a law intended to promote affordable and comprehensive coverage on a widespread basis.
The industry organization of healthcare insurers is clearly in a panic over the situation. I haven’t been able to locate an official statement from the American Health Insurance Plans but the unofficial statement certainly reflects that:
“This latest rule change could cause significant instability in the marketplace and lead to further confusion and disruption for consumers,” said Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s main trade group.
Characterizing the move as a “commonsense clarification”, as the Department of Health and Human Services has done, is beyond absurd and flies in the face of precedent. In Kendall v. United States (1838), the court said:
To contend that the obligation imposed on the president to see the laws faithfully executed implies a power to forbid their execution is a novel construction of the Constitution, and is entirely inadmissible.
There are limits to executive discretion, the Obama Administration is stretching them, and the likelihood that the Administration’s seat-of-the-pants approach to governance will be tested in the courts seems to grow with every passing day.