Phil Kerpen: What if Romney suspended Obamacare
What if Mitt Romney had won the election, and proceeded to disregard sections of Obamacare in precisely the matter President Obama is presently doing? It would go something like this:
WASHINGTON — The Romney administration faces a political and legal crisis as blowback from its controversial decision to unilaterally suspend central elements of the Affordable Care Act continues to intensify.
Under pressure from large corporations, the Treasury Department quietly announced the provisions of the law requiring employers to provide health insurance coverage will not be enforced. The law contains no language granting Treasury discretion for such a move and has a clear effective date of January 1, 2014. Nonetheless, Treasury official Mark Mazur announced in a blog post that penalties for employers who fail to meet the law’s requirements will simply not be enforced in 2014.
"President Romney is openly defying the laws of the United States that he swore an oath to faithfully execute," said the leader of an umbrella liberal interest group that was formed to promote the Affordable Care Act. "Arbitrarily letting employers off the hook for providing health care is not just illegal, but it’s deadly for Americans who are counting that coverage."
That umbrella advocacy group, several major national labor unions and 14 smaller advocacy groups filed a lawsuit last week in the D.C. Circuit seeking an emergency injunction forcing the Romney administration to enforce the law.
The groups are also staging a 24-7 protest in Lafayette Square across from the White House under a large banner reading: "Romney Is Not Above the Law." A significant number of protesters are calling for the president’s impeachment over the issue.
Refusing to back down, the Romney administration made a move to suspend enforcement of other major requirements of the law late last week, this time the verification requirements intended to ensure that only qualified individuals receive affordability tax credits for the purchase of insurance plans on the new Affordable Care Act health insurance exchanges.
Eligibility will instead be on "the honor system."
Supporters of the Affordable Care Act objected that the move would benefit large insurance companies at the expense of vulnerable individuals the law was intended to help.
"These tax credits are paid directly to the giant insurance companies, but if they are later determined to be erroneous then individuals are on the hook to pay back thousands of dollars to the IRS," said a liberal interest group leader. "Without verification procedures, the biggest corporations are reaping billions in subsidies but the regular Americans this law was supposed to help can be pushed into bankruptcy."
Democrats in Congress accuse President Romney of breaking the law. "The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, whether Mr. Romney likes it or not," said the House Democratic leader. "We are confident that the courts will find the president’s lawless decision to let the largest employers off the hook for paying even a portion of the health care costs for their workers to be illegal."
The White House has rejected calls for the president to personally address the issue in a news conference, insisting that its decision to disregard major elements of the law is simply implementing it "in a careful, thoughtful manner."
PHIL KERPEN is president of American Commitment and the author of "Democracy Denied." He can be reached at email@example.com.