By John Vinci — While the Supreme Court decides the fate of Obamacare, there is no pause in the bureaucratic battle over Obamacare’s implementation.
Since the passage of Obamacare a year and a half ago, there have been over 50 regulations. The regulatory documents that make up these regulations contain, by our count, 1,568,482 words. To put that into context, as massive as Obamacare was, its two statutes together consist of only 425,116 words. That makes Obamacare’s implementing regulations 350 percent the length of Obamacare itself.
One regulation, the Medical Loss Ratio, not only puts health insurance agents’ jobs at risk, it threatens to destabilize the insurance markets of entire states by forcing insurers to close their doors providing fewer options for consumers. When the damage this regulation could do became clear, the Obama Administration chose to offer waivers to reduce the regulation’s burden for select states. So far, 17 states have applied for this waiver certifying to the Obama Administration that, in the view of their insurance commissioner, this regulation would destabilize their state’s individual insurance market.
The Obama Administration has also had to issue over 1,500 waivers in order to prevent millions of Americans from losing their low-cost insurance plans due to a regulation that mandates minimum annual and lifetime limits on health claims.
Many of the organizations granted these waivers were unions — the same unions that supported the passage of Obamacare. But when a recent regulation required insurance plans to offer free contraceptives (including those some consider to be abortion-inducing) the Obama Administration offered only a limited waiver for “houses of worship.” It thus excludes all non-church religious organizations and forces them to provide medical products and services that violate their consciences.
While the Obama Administration has yet to release the total number of comments it has received on this regulation one report suggests it may be as many as tens of thousands.
We’d like to see this same response to all Obamacare regulations.
That’s why we’re encouraging thousands of Americans to voice their opinions. For every Obamacare regulation open for comment, ObamacareWatcher.org provides a link to the appropriate Regulations.gov form where you can submit your comment electronically. It also provides a brief summary of each regulation’s contents, links to text and PDF versions of the regulation, and links to appropriate articles on our website.
Unlike a letter written to your congressman, federal agencies have a legal duty to respond to every argument the public submits to them. More than that, they must provide a reasoned response to such arguments.
Our attorneys on staff have written and submitted over a dozen of our own comments. We exposed errors in the cost analysis of the indoor tanning tax regulation. And when one regulation claimed that preventive services would save money, we pointed out that they had cherry picked a handful of cost-saving preventive services out of a study but ignored the 80 percent of preventive services in the study that do not have a cost-saving effect. In several comments we have charged the Administration with overstepping its statutory limits. In all of our comments we have championed limited and responsible government.
And we will continue to champion limited government as we monitor upcoming regulations — not the least of which is the Essential Health Benefit definition. The EHB definition will determine not only what minimum services health insurance plans must cover — they will necessarily determine how expensive those plans will be.
These are just a few examples of the daily activities of the Obama bureaucracy as they implement his signature health care law. The changes they propose today, may very well become the law of the land tomorrow, so it is in everyone’s interest to stay up to date on the latest regulations.
ObamacareWatcher.org is the only site that provides a comprehensive review of Obamacare from a limited government perspective while providing a portal to the public portal for commenting on regulations that will impact their lives.
To keep up with Obamacare regulatory developments and to voice your opinion to the Obama Administration, visit ObamacareWatcher.org.
John Vinci is a staff attorney with Americans for Limited Government who specializes in health care policy.