Free Market Friday: Obamacare strikes again

The Journal Record: January 15, 2015 By Michael C. Carnuccio President of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

It’s been more than four years since the president signed the Affordable Care Act. For political reasons, the law was written so unpopular provisions would become effective after the most recent presidential election.

Obamacare will perhaps be known best for the phrases “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” or “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” These phrases are famous not because they are true. Rather, proponents of Obamacare, especially the president, promised them repeatedly knowing they were false.

However, Obamacare isn’t famous just for its broken promises, but also for the numerous times the administration violates the plain text of Obamacare. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and others are waiting to present the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. It challenges the granting of subsidies through the federal insurance exchange when the actual Obamacare text says those subsidies are allowed only through state exchanges.

It seems the administration is violating Obamacare’s plain text again. One provision of Obamacare is a new tax on health insurance companies. According to the statute, the tax applies to traditional health insurance companies, entities engaged in the business of charging premiums to nonrelated customers in exchange for health insurance coverage. Obamacare text explicitly prohibits the tax from being assessed on Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 self-insured plans, a mechanism by which employers pay for the costs of their employees’ health needs and bear the risk of any losses associated with potential claims. The Internal Revenue Service kept with its tradition of releasing controversial and often illegal administrative rules at a time when the public is least aware. Just as hundreds of millions of Americans began celebrating the holiday season, the IRS released a rule that the tax would apply to some multiple employer welfare arrangements that are self-insured ERISA plans because some bureaucrats think they look like health insurance companies.

This illegal application would cause some Oklahoma employers like community banks to divert funds allocated for medical needs of their employees to a tax they are specifically protected from in Obamacare. Nationwide, large sums will be diverted from employees’ health care to a tax scheme.

For the sake of Oklahomans, here’s hoping policymakers rally to stop yet another illegal attempt by federal bureaucrats.

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