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Were Obamacare delays illegal?

By Jay MacDonald · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

At times, the blossoming of Obamacare has seemed light on the petals and heavy on the thorns.

The latest dust-up over details involves the deadline for the so-called "employer mandate" within the Affordable Care Act, which requires employers with 50 or more full-time workers to offer health insurance coverage to their employees or face a fine.

Many businesses get even more time

Last summer, Obamacare administrators granted large employers a one-year delay, until January 2015, to comply or pay up.

Last week, the Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service issued a final rule that gives medium-size businesses that employ between 50 and 99 workers yet another year, until January 2016, to prepare for the employer mandate. In addition, it also allows larger employers to phase in their employee plans without fear of penalties. They may offer coverage to just 70 percent of their workforce by 2015 and then increase to 95 percent in 2016.

Companies with fewer than 50 employees who work 30 or more hours per week are not required to provide health insurance under Obamacare.

The reaction to the latest changes? Well, you'd have thought someone stole the book ladder from the law library when that final rule came down, because legal scholars turned all aflutter at the news. Why? Well, it seems when a bill becomes law, as the Affordable Care Act did in March 2010, any deadlines mentioned within the bill are kind of cast in stone. And one of those deadlines said the employer mandate was to take effect after Dec. 31, 2013.

"Nothing in the statute justifies this ad hoc suspension and delay," Jonathan Adler, an administrative law expert at Case Western Reserve University, told Insurance Journal. University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley said the delays put the administration in "a legally shaky position." Andrew Schlafly, an attorney for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, maintains, "Only Congress can change the law."

Unhappy employers sue

If you've been following the Obamacare rollout closely, you may be wondering: Why the sudden outpouring of umbrage over delays that were granted at the request of big business? It's a bit like a toddler complaining that you gave them ice cream without proper authority.

Well, it seems that one or two businesses have filed lawsuits over the initial employer mandate delay, claiming they incurred all sorts of legal and administrative costs to ramp up for the 2014 deadline, and they're mad about it. In January, a U.S. District Court in Florida threw out one of those lawsuits, on grounds the business suffered no "concrete injury."

The other fan blowing on this low smolder? Opponents to the "individual mandate," which requires most Americans to obtain health insurance, apparently feel that this kerfuffle somehow aids their repeal-and-replace agenda.

Nevertheless, even the above legal experts agree that, while the administration may have technically overstepped its bounds just a tad, it's unlikely that courts will be convinced that anyone was hurt by it.

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18 Comments
John
February 18, 2014 at 10:16 pm

To all those wanting to sue Obama:
Write yourself a check and save all the money for yourself. Otherwise, you taxpayers will be paying lawyers into the indefinite future.

If this were a simple problem it would have been solved long ago by everyone dieting properly and getting lots of exercise.
Here's to your health.

Robby
February 18, 2014 at 9:37 pm

So Jay is saying that all of the legal experts agree that if no one is hurt there is no legal right or standing in following the law, hmmm, wonder f I can go back and recoup the cost of some of those past speeding tickets?? This should particularly apply to the ones in which I was going just a tad over the limit, right? I am sure that the DCJ in Florida will rule in my favour since there was no one injured by my speeding, no harm no foul! Or perhaps appointed judges now use the law to repay political debts or even just to promote personal agendas?

Steve
February 18, 2014 at 9:12 pm

The democratic controlled senate will go republican in 2014, joining the republican house and stop the business and idiotic policies of Obama. History is going to be unkind to this pathetic excuse for a President of the United States. The liberal will start suffering the fate of MSNBC, dismissed by Microsoft (MS) and now by Comcast.

Carol
February 18, 2014 at 8:43 pm

In order to bring an effective lawsuit against Mr. Obama, there must be legal 'standing'. This means that the plaintiff(s) must be able to prove that someone or something suffered harm or injury as a result of his whimsical delays being made to try and get the Democrats through the November elections. I'm not certain whether or not the harm or injury or suffering can be financial or physical, but I think there are enough of both to successfully bring suit to stop him.

This article quoting liberal professors is just more puffery from the liberal media to inject a deeper feeling of hopelessness in all of us. Don't fall for it.

Milman36
February 18, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Juan you have the typical response from a far left, call names and crazy talk to confuse the issue to avoid the real story. Just for once I would like to have a logical conversation with someone about facts. Our government, not just this president no longer worries about the average person rights and the laws of our country. We let them do whatever they want because it keeps us safe and they know whats better for us. Both parties are guilty of this but they have you all fighting one another and your not really seeing whats going one. This will get worse with each president and congress as they come. One day we will check points to make sure we are going where we are suppose to and we will our houses searched to make sure we are doing what we are suppose to. It seem like a far reach but look at the facts of history and tell me why our country is any different then the rest. We are an arrogant bunch that think we are better then any country before us and that we will not see the same fall as every other great country before us.

mardukes
February 18, 2014 at 8:00 pm

This must be another one of those words that have been redefined lately. I didn't know 'affordable' meant higher priced, limited choice and fewer doctors and health facilities. But it should work out since the Chinese have plenty of money to loan us towards aborting ourselves off the planet.

Randy
February 18, 2014 at 7:56 pm

who gives a flying @!/<

Juan
February 18, 2014 at 7:46 pm

We don't need no stinking affordable health care plan. Let's stick with the 19th century health care plan; let's go back to the wilderness days. After all, Davy Crockett and the wilderness people, in those days, did not need health care. Let us be like the heroes of old. When someone was mauled by a bear or something he took care of it himself - or his family took care of him. Let's take care of our wounds and diseases ourselves - remember we are only in the 21st century. A woman doesn't need to give birth in a hospital let her give birth at home.
I agree with the rednecks of the tea party: let them die

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