Obamacare vs. the Rule of Law
On September 30th, Janet Adamy reported for The Wall Street Journal that McDonald’s was considering canceling its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless new Obamacare regulations were waived. The White House pushed back hard with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Jessica Santillo claiming: “This story is wrong. The new law provides significant flexibility to maintain coverage for workers.” But this Tuesday we learned that Adamy was correct. According to Bloomberg News McDonald’s had sought, and eventually won, a waiver from the upcoming Obamacare regulations. This allows them to continue providing health insurance coverage to 115,000 workers. In fact, McDonald’s workers were just some of the over 1 million of Americans who were spared losing their current health care coverage thanks to one-year waivers from the Obama HHS.
The White House effort to discredit reports that Obamacare is forcing companies to consider dropping health care coverage comes on the heels of a letter HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent to the nation’s health insurers threatening to exclude them from the yet to be implemented Obamacare health exchanges. The letter warned there “will be zero tolerance” for “falsely blaming premium increases” on Obamacare. And who would determine if premium increases were or were not due to Obamacare? The Obama administration of course. When it comes to the health care sector, Obamacare has turned Secretary Sebelius into judge, jury, and executioner. And we are just beginning to witness the scope of Obamacare’s bureaucratic powers.
There are over 1,000 instances in the more than 2,700 page bill where Congress granted the Secretary of HHS new powers to regulate the health care industry. For example, the power to determine what does or does not count as a medical expense alone will decide the fate of many health insurance firms. Galen Institute Trustee John Hoff warned in a recent Heritage Foundation memo:
The Administration’s vision of health care is based on the premise that the federal government can—and must—control the details of health care financing and delivery across the country. … Enactment of PPACA is the first step to this control; the law must be implemented by administrative action. While it is detailed in some instances, PPACA is largely aspirational; it directs the Administration to achieve various universally desired goals—better quality of health care, improved access to care, and increased efficiency of delivery. It constructs the scaffolding of federal control and gives the Administration very broad authority to achieve these aspirations. Each of the many actions taken to implement it will determine the shape of that control. Implementation will be technically difficult and politically charged.
PPACA is based on the premise that the federal government can—and must—regulate the details of the health care financing and delivery systems. With its enactment, health care has been thoroughly bureaucratized—since it must be implemented by public servants—and politicized by the Administration and Congress. Bureaucratization and politicization are the inevitable characteristics of government action.
As Hillsdale College Associate Professor of Political Science Ronald Pestritto has also written for Heritage, Obamacare’s elevation of bureaucrats over the rule of law is exactly what our Founding Fathers were trying to prevent:
The Founders understood that there are two fundamental ways in which government can exercise its authority. The first is a system of arbitrary rule, where the government decides how to act on an ad hoc basis, leaving decisions up to the whim of whatever official or officials happen to be in charge; the second way is to implement a system grounded in the rule of law, where legal rules are made in advance and published, binding both government and citizens and allowing the latter to know exactly what they have to do or not to do in order to avoid the coercive authority of the former.
Through Obamacare, progressives wanted to redistribute wealth through a distant, patronizing welfare state that regulates more and more of the economy, politics and society. The question Americans face is: Are we a country ruled by law or by bureaucrat?