Waiving Obamacare: HHS never had authority to issue exemptions

posted at 12:00 pm on June 7, 2011 by Tina Korbe

According to testimony at a recent hearing of the House Oversight health care subcommittee, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) doesn’t actually grant the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to exempt employers from the law’s annual minimum health care coverage requirements. The Daily Caller reports:

Language granting HHS that power was never in the original law. Instead, through new rules and regulations, HHS gave itself the power last summer using a broad interpretation of certain parts of the law.

The annual limit requirement waivers exempt recipients for one year from having to increase the amount of health care coverage they provide their workers. Each year between now and 2014, the minimum annual limit rises to a new, higher amount. Though the waivers are only for one year, recipients can reapply and be re-approved every year through 2014.

Heritage Foundation health policy expert Edmund Haislmaier said HHS “exceeded its statutory authority” by issuing such waivers.

And as of May 13, 2011, HHS had issued quite a few — 1,372. But maybe such a wide interpretation of the regulatory power granted to HHS by Obamacare was warranted? Not so, says Haislmaier. In 21 other sections of PPACA, Congress explicitly grants HHS waiver authority with respect to other provisions. Obviously, that suggests Congress would have explicitly granted the Department the authority to waive the minimum annual coverage requirements, as well.

Why does this not surprise me? This administration has made no secret of its willingness to legislate through the executive branch. But this example exudes a special irony: The executive branch has to improperly legislate to undo — not extend – the legislative branch’s unwieldy legislation.

It’s all made worse, of course, by the way in which HHS has granted the waivers — with little to no transparency and with every appearance of political favoritism. But one congressman seeks to change that. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), along with 31 of his Congressional colleagues, recently sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to request clarifications about the waiver application and grant process.

“It is sheer hypocrisy to say that this is about healthcare ‘equality,’ but still grant special privilege exemptions to labor unions and businesses,” Huelskamp said in a news release. “Evidence continues to flow forth that these waivers are sometimes about who you know, as a multitude of them have been granted to labor unions that have supported the president or to businesses that are in former Speaker Pelosi’s district. This entire waiver process screams of political favoritism and is an abomination to the democratic process, to the concept of equality under the law, and to individual freedom and liberty.”

The letter asks Sebelius to identify the number and type of denied applications, the number and type of pending applications and the average time it takes to make a decision about whether to grant a waiver. That information would be a good start — if Sebelius responds — but, in light of Haislmaier’s testimony, the secretary has even more explaining to do.


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First thought – Ha, suckers!

Second thought – No worries, Obama has special EO to ‘make it so’.

Sir Napsalot on June 7, 2011 at 12:02 PM

“I gotta Golden Ticket….I gotta golden Ticke…THWACK!@!!

Mr. Slugworth just took away those Wonka Golden tickets.

portlandon on June 7, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Did they do a lot of “to be determined by…..” clauses in that stupid bill? You would almost get the feeling that the whole thing was designed for future slush funds.

Cindy Munford on June 7, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Taxes Laws are for the little people.

Vashta.Nerada on June 7, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), along with 31 of his Congressional colleagues, recently sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to request clarifications about the waiver application and grant process.

You’re the Congress… it’s YOUR law… TELL HER TO STOP… don’t just ask for a “clarification” as to why she’s violating it.

mankai on June 7, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Did should be Didn’t.

Cindy Munford on June 7, 2011 at 12:04 PM

The first question in the waiver application is “How much have you donated to Democrat candidates?”

Cicero43 on June 7, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Since when does Obama and his band of merry Marxists worry about the “authority” to do anything?

rplat on June 7, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), along with 31 of his Congressional colleagues, recently sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to request clarifications about the waiver application and grant process.

Sebelius’ response: “Aw, how cute, Congress thinks it’s still relevant.”

rbj on June 7, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Didn’t some pundity newsguy write an article a couple weeks ago asking where all the scandles are in this administration?

Why, they’re all over the place…they just aren’t covered as such.

Youngs98 on June 7, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Well, that Constitution thing is just a charter of negative liberties anyway.

Mr. Bingley on June 7, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Pull her in front of the subcommittee to ‘splain herself.

UncleFodder on June 7, 2011 at 12:07 PM

I thought you all knew we would be under the guise of HHS concerning ObamaCare? I also thought you ll knew that they have been handing out waivers for decades, for organizations and large corps as well as State Government Agencies concerning healthcare.

This isn’t surprising and ObamaCare isn’t above anything. I suspect OC and Medicare will merge into one… in 5 yrs.

upinak on June 7, 2011 at 12:07 PM

Obama has already demonstrated that representative democracy is too slow and compromising for his taste. It’s not surprising HHS (or any other dept.) is acting without congressional authority.

cartooner on June 7, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Looks like there will be a LOT of avenues of attack against this administration for blatantly ignoring Congress and/or the courts.

This, Libya, the Gulf drilling moratorium…

teke184 on June 7, 2011 at 12:10 PM

HHS never had authority to issue exemptions

So? The Constitution never authorized 90% of what the feds do every day.

“No controlling legal authority”–Al Gore

itsnotaboutme on June 7, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), along with 31 of his Congressional colleagues, recently sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to request clarifications about the waiver application and grant process.

What came out of Kansas (former Gov. Sebelius) comes back to Kansas.

Toto, who IS that lady behind the curtain, and what is she doing?

Steve Z on June 7, 2011 at 12:12 PM

“The executive branch has to improperly legislate to undo — not extend – the legislative branch’s unwieldy legislation.”

You would think that this would be unconstitutional, or something…

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on June 7, 2011 at 12:13 PM

According to testimony at a recent hearing of the House Oversight health care subcommittee, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) doesn’t actually grant the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to exempt employers from the law’s annual minimum health care coverage requirements.

What kind of a government do we have??????

It takes this long after a law is passed to find out what it does & doesn’t say??????

itsnotaboutme on June 7, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Welcome to the USSA, Komrades.

kingsjester on June 7, 2011 at 12:15 PM

“Rules? I don’t need Rules.”

- His Majesty King B.Hussein Obama II, of The World, America, Puerto Rico & Dominions beyond the Seas King, Land Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

portlandon on June 7, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Bureaucracies dohn need no stiking authorization.

davidk on June 7, 2011 at 12:16 PM

“You have to pass the bill to find out what’s not in it.”

Maybe that’s what Pelosi meant.

Abby Adams on June 7, 2011 at 12:17 PM

“Rules? I don’t need Rules.”

- His Majesty King B.Hussein Obama II, of The World, America, Puerto Rico & Dominions beyond the Seas King, Land Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

portlandon on June 7, 2011 at 12:15 PM

At least President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho was smart enough to know that he had to do something to fix things, even if he didn’t know how to do it.

I don’t think Hussein even knows that much.

teke184 on June 7, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Clearly, the commerce clause gives HHS the authority to do what it wants.

-CRR6

Monkeytoe on June 7, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Who has standing to take this to court? I would love to see a total smackdown of Sebelius on this.

rockmom on June 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM

“…This entire waiver process screams of political favoritism and is an abomination to the democratic process, to the concept of equality under the law, and to individual freedom and liberty.”

When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed. – Ayn Rand

But she just wrote paranoid fantasies, right?

RadClown on June 7, 2011 at 12:26 PM

An excerpt of what I posted on the Headlines thread:

Selective enforcement of the law is the first sign of tyranny. A government empowered to determine arbitrarily who may operate outside the rule of law invariably embraces favoritism as friends, allies and those with the best-funded lobbyists are rewarded. Favoritism inevitably leads to corruption, and corruption invites extortion. Ultimately, the rule of law ceases to exist in any recognizable form, and what is left is tyranny.

Dr. Milton R. Wolf, a Washington Times columnist, is a board-certified diagnostic radiologist and President Obama’s cousin. He blogs at miltonwolf.com.

Del Dolemonte on June 7, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Oh yeah? Watcha go’in do bout it? I won…

right2bright on June 7, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Obama grants waivers with barely a mention much less a protest in most of the media. Imagine what will happen if a republican administration was granting waivers.

agmartin on June 7, 2011 at 12:28 PM

It takes this long after a law is passed to find out what it does & doesn’t say??????

itsnotaboutme on June 7, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Pelosi did tell you…you have to pass it to find out what is in it…that was pretty transparent…

right2bright on June 7, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Who has standing to take this to court? I would love to see a total smackdown of Sebelius on this.

rockmom on June 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Sebelius was Tiller the Killer’s main ‘patron’. In a just world that woman would be shamed…not made part of a ‘president’s’ administration.

annoyinglittletwerp on June 7, 2011 at 12:29 PM

The prisoners are going to complain to the warden. LOL.

fogw on June 7, 2011 at 12:30 PM

May I have the insight to condem such actiovities if it was done by the GOP.

Why do people want to put more power in fewer people’s hands? Fools!

WashJeff on June 7, 2011 at 12:31 PM

So….why didn’t any Republican Congress men and women call this out a lot earlier?????

albill on June 7, 2011 at 12:31 PM

If there are any real Journalists left in the media, they need to be asking Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi about these waivers every time she appears in front of a camera.

Pelosi passed the Obamacare bill, so she should know what’s in it by now.

wren on June 7, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Obama doesn’t have the right to approve waivers?

This is kind of like “Terd Fishing” isn’t it? I mean – seriously – in the sea of Presidential overreach – why are we singling out this particular terd to complain about – seeing as how the water is covered in terds?

Damn – we’re in a war in Libya without the consent of Congress. We got a “permatorium” down here in the South on offshore drilling and the Fed Court has ruled the Obama administration in contempt of court. Obama FIRED the CEO of a private company – GM. The justice department selectively “defends” lawsuits against laws it likes – and ignores the ones it doesn’t like. Black Panthers caught intimidating voters with weapons at voting polls are completely let off the hook for it.

Why am I supposed to get excited about a few health care waivers?

Seriously – if it’s an issue – shouldn’t the House of Representatives – which is CONTROLLED BY THE GOP – initiate some impeachment procedings to get the dude’s attention?

HondaV65 on June 7, 2011 at 12:37 PM

So….why didn’t any Republican Congress men and women call this out a lot earlier?????

albill on June 7, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Excellent question. These guys are supposed to be keeping the (other) crooks honest. Can we hope that none of the waivers will be ruled legit now and that everyone will be forced to live by the same rules?

MJBrutus on June 7, 2011 at 12:38 PM

I’d hit it.

/Clinton

fossten on June 7, 2011 at 12:39 PM

…the secretary has even more explaining to do.

Oh, Lucy…

Midas on June 7, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Seriously – if it’s an issue – shouldn’t the House of Representatives – which is CONTROLLED BY THE GOP – initiate some impeachment procedings to get the dude’s attention?

HondaV65 on June 7, 2011 at 12:37 PM

Why yes; yes, they should. And on a number of issues, many of which you enumerated, in which Obama is openly defying his oath of office and behaving unconstitutionally.

Midas on June 7, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Who has standing to take this to court?

rockmom on June 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM

The $14.4 trillion dollar question. I wish I knew the answer.

Missy on June 7, 2011 at 12:46 PM

if Sebelius responds

key words….but it ain’t gonna happen…not this administration…

cmsinaz on June 7, 2011 at 12:57 PM

Mr. Slugworth just took away those Wonka Golden tickets.

portlandon on June 7, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Yeah, but Slugworth works for Wonka, so it’s all good.

/

CurtZHP on June 7, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Who has standing to take this to court?

rockmom on June 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM

At some level, don’t we all? We’re being forced to buy something unconstitutionally, we’re not being treated equally under the law (others are getting waivers, we’re not), etc… ?

Midas on June 7, 2011 at 1:01 PM

This is the government. They have not needed authorization by law for anything they have done in decades.

JIMV on June 7, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Is it just me or does that picture of Sebelius look like she is auditioning for like an infomercial or something?

She seems to have that “Only $19.95! And if you order in the next ten minutes, you’ll also receive……….” look on her face that you usually see when you’re watching the ShamWow/SlapChop guy.

pilamaye on June 7, 2011 at 1:18 PM

I know how about the House not fund the legislation? What? You’re kidding me!

hip shot on June 7, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Who has standing to take this to court?

rockmom on June 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Legally or courage-wise?

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 7, 2011 at 1:26 PM

The first question in the waiver application is “How much have you donated to Democrat candidates?”

Cicero43 on June 7, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Oh, they already know that… and everything else about the applicants.

mankai on June 7, 2011 at 1:44 PM

You’re the Congress… it’s YOUR law… TELL HER TO STOP… don’t just ask for a “clarification” as to why she’s violating it.

mankai on June 7, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Precisely- weren’t we told that when the GOP took over they would be specifically investigating offences like this? Either Congress has some authority or the whole notion of government in the USA is dead and it may as well declare itself to be just another banana republic.

Jay Mac on June 7, 2011 at 2:34 PM

This scumbag b!tch needs to be removed from office by congress. Start the investigation today. She is the tool the ObamaSocialists use to work around the constitution, congress and even the courts.

Jaibones on June 7, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Forget congressional votes, forget court decisions. It may be the fastest way to kill ObamaCare is to revoke the waivers. Imagine the screams…

parteagirl on June 7, 2011 at 3:02 PM

The source is the Heritage Foundation. The same ones who incouraged Romneycare, then stabed Romney in the back as soon as mandates became labeled as “unConstituional” rather than “taking personal responsibility.”

Heritage foundation is not to be trusted, they go with the political winds, ask Romney.

petunia on June 7, 2011 at 3:11 PM

She won’t respond.

Seems to me any applicant who is denied a waiver would have standing. After that, it gets murky ….

BD57 on June 7, 2011 at 3:24 PM

The Heritage foundation also supported TARP. Well, before they decided they would be against it after it was passed.

Now they have links to a ‘heritage budget’ that continues the spending through the next election. It also turns social security into a welfare program. Does anyone think they will be pulling those ideas from their site if they are implemented?

Freddy on June 7, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Imagine if this were happening under Bush, and it was happening in conservative disticts.

KMC1 on June 7, 2011 at 3:41 PM

The PPACA is the closest thing to “rule by decree”. “It says whatever we want it to say”.

Paul-Cincy on June 7, 2011 at 4:14 PM

Did they do a lot of “to be determined by…..” clauses in that stupid bill? You would almost get the feeling that the whole thing was designed for future slush funds.

Cindy Munford on June 7, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Yes, they did.

dogsoldier on June 7, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Why is this such a surprise…??

Without the people’s consent and through breaking Constitutional Law, the Republicans have since Abraham Lincoln been giving out special favors to their cronies in business with very similar results.

For example, the railroad “robber barron corporations” that received financial subsidieshandouts from Abraham Lincoln, all went bankrupt, because flush with government cash, they overbuilt, which is the same thing as happened with Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac.

HOW CAN WE EXPECT THE DEMOCRATS TO DO ANY DIFFERENT SINCE THE REPUBLICANS HAVE BEEN DOING THIS SINCE ABRAHAM LINCOLN…??!!

Breaking the law and spreading-the-wealth-around against the people’s wishes is WRONG… NO MATTER WHO DOES IT.

..
..

It just so happens that the Republicans started it…..with “corporate welfare”…..

Mcguyver on June 7, 2011 at 4:56 PM

they never put the exemptions in because they knew it would violate the equal protection clause of the 14th.

clement on June 7, 2011 at 5:03 PM

Just claim to be a muzzie. Instant exemption.

slickwillie2001 on June 7, 2011 at 6:24 PM

Man…who ever the Repub is, who debates Obama in the next election, is going to have a field day with this.

percysunshine on June 7, 2011 at 9:59 PM

The Heritage foundation also supported TARP. Well, before they decided they would be against it after it was passed.

Now they have links to a ‘heritage budget’ that continues the spending through the next election. It also turns social security into a welfare program. Does anyone think they will be pulling those ideas from their site if they are implemented?

Freddy on June 7, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Absolutely! Heritage is suposed to be conservative, but they seem more like opportunists to me.

Not only TARP, but all those politicians who supported some kind of mandate were encourage by the big conservative brains at Heritage!

They were in love with Romneycare, until they stuck their finger in the air and figured they could throw Romney under the bus and attack Obama with the unconstitutionalty of mandates!

Mandates in 2008 were called “taking personal responsibility” and making people not take money from the government to pay for their health insurance.

I don’t really care one way or the other, Obamacare is a monstrousity that was shoved down America’s throat and needs to be repealed. But I think this is another attempt to stab Romney in the back.

Romney called for nationwide waivers and the Heritage Foundation who once backed Romneycare, now says the President doesn’t have the right to issue waivers.

What’s up with that? Who has the personal vendetta? Does Dick Armey run Heritage too?

petunia on June 8, 2011 at 12:36 AM