West Virginia Leads 11 States In Comment Letter Expressing Concerns About Legality of President Obama’s Unilateral Changes to ACA
CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said today that West Virginia led attorneys general from 10 other states in a comment letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responding to a proposed federal rule regarding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
The rule includes changes relating to the Obama Administration’s recent attempt to stem the political fallout from cancelled health plans by unilaterally rewriting the flawed health care law. In response to criticism over cancelled health plans, the President announced in November that his Administration would allow insurance companies to continue offering plans that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act’s mandates.
The comment letter, addressed to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, opposes the new rule because the Administration’s decision to simply stop enforcing the Affordable Care Act’s mandates in order to revive cancelled insurance is “flatly illegal under federal constitutional and statutory law.”
The seven-page letter says the President is violating both his responsibility to execute laws faithfully and the separation of powers between the branches of government.
“We support allowing citizens to keep their health insurance coverage, but any changes to the law must be done legally and through the proper channels,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The Administration may not decide single-handedly which parts of the law it will enforce and which parts it will ignore. The only way to fix this problem-ridden law is through congressional action.”
Morrisey was joined in the letter by attorneys general representing Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia.
“We are deeply concerned that this Administration is consistently rewriting new rules and effectively inventing statutory provisions to operationalize a flawed law,” the attorneys general wrote. “And the irony, of course, is that the changes being put forth to fix the disastrous exchanges will ultimately destroy the market and increase health insurance premiums for customers who played by the rules.”
The attorneys general also wrote in the comment letter to Sebelius that they are troubled by the Administration’s continued failure to address widespread public outcry over the security of consumers’ private information as they enroll in healthcare exchanges. In the letter, the attorneys general say that the proposed rule will weaken already-lax privacy standards.
“Each of us is charged with protecting our states’ consumers,” Morrisey said. “Once a person’s private information is breached, it is very hard to ensure it is secure again. We are troubled that the Administration has not even proposed implementing criminal background checks on people who have access to sensitive private information.”
The attorneys general urge HHS to mandate rigorous training, licensing and educational requirements for personnel who deal with sensitive information similar to what is required of private, state-licensed insurance agents and brokers. They also asked HHS to explain how it will assist consumers whose personal information is violated and work in partnership with state consumer protection efforts.
“This comment letter is designed to ensure that the Administration understands the very real concerns several attorneys general have with the law, how it was implemented and how it is now being changed not by the legislative branch as intended by the Constitution, but by the executive branch,” Morrisey said. “We will continue to speak up and voice our concerns until we are sure our consumers are protected and the Administration starts respecting the rule of law. Citizens in our states and throughout the nation deserve no less.”
To read a copy of the letter, click here