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HSS Exempts Territories From Obama-Care Mandates

From the Wall Street Journal:

Territories Free of ObamaCare

The White House issues another illegal exemption.

July 21, 2014

Last week’s burst of world disorder was ideal for a news dump, and the White House didn’t disappoint: On no legal basis, all 4.5 million residents of the five U.S. territories were quietly released from ObamaCare…

The original House and Senate bills that became the Affordable Care Act included funding for insurance exchanges in these territories, as President Obama promised when as a Senator he campaigned in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other 2008 Democratic primaries. But the $14.5 billion in subsidies for the territories were dumped in 2010 as ballast when Democrats needed to claim the law reduced the deficit.

So, since they were not eligible for mandates, the 4.5 million residents of the territories were also not required to buy insurance via the individual or employer mandate. But the Democrats still wanted the insurance companies to provide all the new goodies — for free:

As a consolation, Democrats opened several public-health programs to the territories and bestowed most of ObamaCare’s insurance regulations, which liberals euphemize as "consumer protections," such as requiring insurers to accept all comers and charge the same premiums regardless of patient health. "After a careful review of the law," said Health and Human Services in a 2012 letter, HHS granted the territories’ request to apply these rules "to the maximum extent permitted by law." …

In other words, the Democrats required the insurers in US territories to provide all of the ‘benefits’ of Obama-Care. But without giving them anyway to pay these additional costs, via the individual or employer mandates.

These uneconomic mandates promptly caused insurance rates to soar and many insurers to flee the territorial markets. You can’t buy any policy at any price in the Mariana Islands. So the territories have spent the last two years beseeching HHS for a regulatory exemption.

As recently as last year, HHS instructed the territories that they "have enjoyed the benefits of the applicable consumer protections" and HHS "has no legal authority to exclude the territories" from ObamaCare…

[B]ut all of a sudden last week HHS discovered new powers after "a careful review of this situation and the relevant statutory language." … [S]o the territories will get their selective exemption after all.

In other words, last week HHS suddenly found the legal authority in the "relevant statutory language" and decided to exempt all of the companies from the Obama-Care coverage mandates.

All of which is pretty ironic in light of the DC Court’s ruling that the government has to follow the ‘relevant statutory language’ and end any subsidies that are not from the state exchanges.

The White House seems to have an elastic definition of states. In the Halbig case in which a decision is expected any day from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Mr. Obama’s lawyers say the phrase "the 50 states" includes the federal government. But most elastic is its definition of statutes, which apparently mean whatever Mr. Obama says they mean at any given moment. His new dispensation is great for the territories, but awful for the Constitution and rule of law.

What rule of law? The WSJ is living in the distant past. The time before Obama.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “HSS Exempts Territories From Obama-Care Mandates”

  1. Astravogel says:

    I recall a news item some time back that one of the California
    ‘lady’ politicians in Congress exempted her family’s sweat shops
    on Guam from some provision or other that would have cost
    the family more and benefited their workers. Perhaps this is
    more of the same?

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