Eleven state AGs protest ObamaCare “fixes” as “flatly illegal”

posted at 8:31 am on January 3, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Alternate headline: Hot Air readers get results! In our year-end poll, readers chose as the most underreported story of 2013 the lawlessness of the Obama administration in its handling of ObamaCare. Eleven state Attorneys General share that opinion — and started off the year attempting to correct it. Led by Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia (no relation), the consortium of AGs protested the changes in a letter to Kathleen Sebelius (via Instapundit):

The attorneys general specifically criticize President Obama’s executive action that allowed insurance companies to keep offering health plans that had been canceled for not meeting ObamaCare’s more rigorous standards.

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 in a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “The illegal actions by this administration must stop.”

They say the healthcare fix was “flatly illegal under federal constitutional and statutory law.”

Congress wrote the law in a manner that transfers much of its authority to HHS. The bill is chock-full of the phrase, “The Secretary shall determine …” in areas where Congress should have provided much more specific direction, which allows the executive branch wide latitude in a number of areas. However, the bill does have some specificity, especially on deadline dates for enforcement. HHS does not have the statutory flexibility that it has arrogated to itself for these “fixes,” nor does it have the constitutional power to change statute.

Morrisey and his colleagues are correct in their accusations. The question will be whether any of them will challenge those decisions in court. One would have to think they have standing to do so, especially as it relates to the impact on insurers in their states.  Congress also would have standing to bring a complaint to the federal court, and one has to wonder whether John Boehner and the House is considering such an action. If “the illegal actions by this administration must stop,” they have to know that a letter to Sebelius isn’t going to be the fulcrum of that change.

In other ObamaCare news, the confusion over sign-ups versus actual enrollments is keeping people from getting care:

Hospital staff in Northern Virginia are turning away sick people on a frigid Thursday morning because they can’t determine whether their Obamacare insurance plans are in effect.

Patients in a close-in DC suburb who think they’ve signed up for new insurance plans are struggling to show their December enrollments are in force, and health care administrators aren’t taking their word for it.

In place of quick service and painless billing, these Virginians are now facing the threat of sticker-shock that comes with bills they can’t afford.

‘They had no idea if my insurance was active or not!’ a coughing Maria Galvez told MailOnline outside the Inova Healthplex facility in the town of Springfield.

She was leaving the building without getting a needed chest x-ray.

‘The people in there told me that since I didn’t have an insurance card, I would be billed for the whole cost of the x-ray,’ Galvez said, her young daughter in tow. ‘It’s not fair – you know, I signed up last week like I was supposed to.’

The x-ray’s cost, she was told, would likely be more than $500.

She chose a plan that cost $450 a month but hasn’t received a bill yet, the Daily Mail reports, but she also has a $5500 deductible — which means she’d be paying for that chest X-ray anyway. There are plenty of more anecdotes from the front lines of the ObamaCare rollout in the article, so be sure to read it all.


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