House begins probe into 222 waivers for ObamaCare

Fred Upton proves himself to be a multitasker this week.  Earlier today, I wrote about his plan to fight the EPA on the expansion of climate-change regulation, and now Upton has his eyes trained on Health and Human Services.  Upton and one of the chairs of his Energy and Commerce subcommittees have launched a probe into the 222 waivers granted by the Obama administration from ObamaCare insurance coverage mandates:

One day after the House voted to repeal Obamacare, some lawmakers are turning their attention toward the bureaucracy created by the bill. Reps. Fred Upton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Cliff Stearns, chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, are investigating the new Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO).

On Thursday, Upton and Stearns sent CCIIO director Jay Angoff a letter with questions about the office’s structure, authority and recent decision to grant waivers throughout several industries, exempting companies from complying with the bill’s requirements.

“Most troubling is that your office is currently responsible for deciding who does not have to comply with the massive new regulations imposed by the PPACA [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act],” said the letter. “Currently your office has approved waivers from the PPACA’s annual limits requirements for 222 applicants.”

According to the letter, Angloff told Rep. Michael Burgess that the administration had also denied some waiver requests, but apparently didn’t elaborate on who got denied and why.  Upton and Stearns want an explanation of the processes and requirements for waivers from the PPACA.  They are also likely looking at denied and approved waivers to determine whether there is a fair and objective process, or if political considerations went into granting the explosion of waivers.

This points out one of the “most troubling” flaws in ObamaCare, which is its absurd level of ambiguity.  The law is filled with the phrase “The Secretary shall determine” where regulation is mandated by Congress.  This goes beyond the sheer complexity of what Congress attempted to do and speaks directly to the manner in which it got done.  The law is so ambiguous that not even the White House knows how it will get implemented, let alone the providers, insurers, and consumers of medical care.  Employers have no real idea what costs will now go into hiring, which is one reason (among many) that businesses have grown reluctant to add staff.

Even apart from the practical ambiguity in ObamaCare, the new system damages the principal of the rule of law.  Instead of creating the regulations explicitly so that Americans could understand the costs of compliance, Congress punted most of the regulatory duties to unelected bureaucrats in the executive branch.  The waivers that immediately resulted show that rather than following a rule of law, Americans must now follow a rule of bureaucratic whim.

That’s one of the “most troubling” aspects of ObamaCare — and a demonstration that the 111th Session of Congress utterly abdicated its duty in favor of political expediency.  If regulating one-sixth of the national economy was too complicated for Congress to do with specific laws that eliminated ambiguity, then Congress shouldn’t have taken on the task in the first place.