Twenty-eight of these United States — encompassing 164 million people, 53 percent of America’s population, and 285 Electoral College votes — are suing the federal government to stop Obamacare. This litigation challenges the constitutionality of Obamacare’s mandate that individuals purchase health insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court likely will decide, once and for all, if the Constitution’s commerce clause empowers Congress to force Americans to conduct commerce.
However, an additional legal strategy could address this law’s apparent violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.
Obamacare is not being enforced equally at all. As of Feb. 9, the Obama administration had granted 915 waivers, mainly to influential organizations, major companies and pro-Democratic labor unions. Those less lucky or connected have a different option: Obey Obamacare.
According to the Health and Human Services Department, the waiver recipients claim that complying with new “annual dollar-limit requirements” would cost their group health plans “either a large increase in premiums or a significant decrease in access to coverage.” But unlike the objective income brackets that trigger diverse tax rates, “large” and “significant” are subjective criteria. This gives HHS bureaucrats ample opportunity to treat the insured unequally.
“Obamacare was sold as all benefit — no downside,” Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., said Wednesday. And now, “2.5 million people literally need to be protected from the devastating effects of Obamacare.”
“The selective dispensations to Obamacare’s mandates that Obama so far has given to various special interests — especially his union friends — fly in the face of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause,” says Roger Pilon, the Cato Institute’s vice president for legal affairs. “But they’re just the other side of the ‘Cornhusker Kickback,’ the ‘Louisiana Purchase,’ and other last-minute shenanigans that Obama and congressional Democrats employed to get this travesty passed in the first place.”
“The very interests who supported this law and helped ram it through Congress are now applying for waivers,” said Betsy McCaughey, president of Defend Your Healthcare (defendyourhealthcare.us). “If government has the power to grant waivers, it has the power to deny them and destroy any business. Americans never should have to slink and slither to the White House for exemptions, like supplicants.” McCaughey will ask President Barack Obama to give waivers to everyone who requests them via her website.
While Democrats hail this new law as the greatest medical innovation since the tongue depressor, these 915 waivers may be the most compelling argument against Obamacare yet. After Democrats ignored the protests of the populace and jammed this plan down our throats, they argued that Americans soon would love this gargantuan law.
“It’s very obvious that people have a lack of understanding of our health care reform bill,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said last August. “The more people learn about this bill, the more they like it.”
Democrats have it backward. With Obamacare, familiarity breeds contempt. Nearly one year since its enactment, 57 percent of Americans want Obamacare repealed, while only 38 percent disagree, according to a Feb. 12-13 Rasmussen survey of 1,000 likely voters.
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.