by Tim Brown
In a move that reminiscent of the tyrannical actions of Abraham Lincoln that led to the War of Northern Aggression, Barack Obama says that he will not wait on states to enforce Obamacare. Instead his administration has announced its intent is to completely disregard the state’s Tenth Amendment rights to nullification of the Obamacare law, via their passed legislation and state constitutions. In fact, his administration has said that in states where they refuse to comply with federal healthcare mandates that agents from the Department of Health and Human Services will assume absolute control over the state’s health insurance industry.
Insurance regulation is a huge responsibility that’s been closely guarded by the states. That’s why the Obama administration and those closely watching the rollout of Obamacare believe that even states that have sworn off the law’s coverage expansions will still enforce its new measures — including new benefit mandates, cost-sharing guidelines and rules on how insurers rate customers — to retain control over their health insurance markets.
But the feds will be overseeing the health care law in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming after those states told HHS they couldn’t or wouldn’t implement the new rules.
“We are enforcing because Oklahoma notified … that it has not enacted legislation to enforce or that it is otherwise not enforcing the Affordable Care Act market reform provisions,” Gary Cohen, director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, wrote to the Oklahoma Insurance Department on Friday. Officials in Missouri, Texas and Wyoming received similar letters, an agency spokeswoman said.
The enforcement letters come a little more than a month after a Commonwealth Fund report found just 11 states and Washington had started to adjust state laws to prepare for seven major ACA insurance reforms taking effect in 2014.
In a statement by Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak he said, “It is unfortunate that health insurers are being forced into a system of dual regulation by the overreaching Obama administration. My position on this has never wavered, and I welcome every opportunity to try to overturn Obamacare.”
In a letter sent to Cohen, it was clearly stated that the Oklahoma Insurance Department does not have the authority to enforce federal law.
“The Oklahoma Insurance Department regulates the health insurance policies sold in the state and responds to consumer questions and complaints. Our consumer assistance team receives over 30,000 phone calls and our website receives over 1,000,000 visits each year,” the letter said.
“We will continue to serve these consumers by adhering to our duties under the State Constitution and Statutes. The consumers are the ones who are going to bear the costs of these unnecessary federal regulatory burdens.”
The Tulsa World reports:
Meanwhile, health insurance companies doing business in Oklahoma are receiving letters from Cohen telling them that enforcement of the law’s requirements will be handled by the federal agency. A state health insurance trade group said the additional level of regulation is troubling.
“The Oklahoma Association of Health Plans’ members are very concerned about the impact dual regulations will have on administrative expenses and premiums paid by our consumers,” said Executive Director Laura Brookins.
Essentially, health coverage that will be sold through a federally run health insurance exchange starting next year will be regulated by the federal government, but coverage outside the exchange — sold by the same companies — will face different rules, forms and officials.
“Unfortunately for everyone, this dual oversight process will result in increased costs for all Oklahoma health plans,” Brookins said.
Doaks warns that this additional level of regulation, or duplicate regulatory scheme will result in increased costs to the consumer. “Oklahomans should be alarmed,” he said.
Deputy insurance Commissioner Mike Rhoads says the two regulatory structures will simply make things needlessly confusing. “Since statehood we’ve been doing this and frankly we’re the … experts in the regulatory matters,” Rhoads said. “I’m not going to say that they can’t do it, but they damned sure can’t do it as efficiently as we can.”
Joe Wolverton at The New American writes,
When it was informed that Oklahoma would not — in fact, legally could not — comply with ObamaCare mandates, HHS was not deterred, proposing instead the establishment of a “collaborative enforcement arrangement.” This deal would permit the feds to force ObamaCare on Oklahomans while allowing the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) to ostensibly keep its hands clean.
As if that weren’t insulting enough, included in the cache of documents provided to The New American was the letter mentioned above that was sent to Oklahoma insurance companies from HHS informing them that since Oklahoma cannot or will not enforce the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), this responsibility has been assumed by CMS.
Furthermore, as part of its oversight, CMS demands in the letter that insurance companies “submit all group and individual health insurance policy forms, certificates, riders, endorsements, and amendments, as well as any other requested material pertinent to the market reforms of the Affordable Care Act to CMS for review.”
Then, lest insurance companies in Oklahoma doubt who’s in charge of healthcare in the Sooner State, the letter declares that “a filing with the Oklahoma Insurance Department does not constitute a filing with CMS for these purposes.”
In other words, the Obama administration could care less about the boundaries of the Constitution, the Tenth Amendment or anything else regarding the law. They believe they are above the law and will seek to force unlawful laws upon a law abiding people. This is a tyrannical Federal government that is seeking to usurp state constitutions and the will of the people in those states, including nullification legislation that has passed through state legislatures.
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