When it seems like the Obama administration is getting sued left and right for its implementation of the Affordable Care Act, West Virginia’s attorney general is now suing the administration for one of its last-minute changes to the law.
Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed a complaint Tuesday against the Obama administration for its so-called “administrative fix” issued last November, which punted the responsibility for millions of cancelled health insurance plans to states and private insurance companies.
President Barack Obama’s repeated promise that anyone who liked their health care plan could keep it became Politifact’s “lie of the year” when Obamacare requirements forced insurance companies operating in the individual market to cancel upwards of 5 million health care plans. The resulting public outcry cowed the Obama administration into issuing another unilateral change to the law.
The first administrative fix allowed insurance companies through the end of 2014 to renew health insurance policies that don’t meet Obamacare’s standards — as long as state insurance officials OK the extension. In March, the Obama administration extended the plans for another two years.
Morrisey is arguing that the administration unconstitutionally “abdicated its enforcement role and left the states solely responsible — and accountable — for deciding whether federal law would be enforced,” according to the filing.
“The president intentionally and improperly sought to shift to the states the potential political burden for the cancellation of individual health plans,” Morrisey charged in the complaint. “The state of West Virginia believes that its citizens should be able to keep their individual health insurance plans if they like them. But the state also believes that no president is above the law and that this administration’s action set a dangerous precedent. The changes in the law…must be obtained properly through the democratic process.”
The administration is required to allow state governments to make the final call on whether to extend the plans because states typically have jurisdiction over most health insurance regulations; but the change puts state officials in a difficult situation. While the Obamacare regulations cancelling the plans are unpopular, changing the rules for insurance companies at the last minute can hurt both insurers and customers.
The policy was supposed to drive more traffic towards insurance companies in the exchanges and several insurers have cited the extension of noncompliant plans in their decision to hike premiums. (RELATED: Obamacare Delay Sparks Premium Hikes In Iowa)