A couple of months ago, Tea Party groups across the country organized a rally in Washington D.C. that was billed as “the last chance to stop ObamaCare.” The rally focused on communicating to federal politicians, particularly those in the purse-string holding House of Representatives, that it was time to take action and defund the fabulously mislabeled Affordable Care Act.
Despite the efforts of its organizers, the rally failed. Congress caved and ObamaCare was launched. The ensuing fallout has been spectacular as insurance companies have canceled policies while rates and deductibles have skyrocketed. Even the program’s website has been a total debacle, adding some comedic relief to the unfurling tragedy. So now that the “last chance” effort has failed, is there nothing that can be done?
With respect to the people involved, the rally was not the last chance to stop ObamaCare, not by a long shot. In fact, it should be seriously reconsidered whether or not addressing this problem in Washington D.C. was the best first chance. The reality is that the states hold the power in their hands to mark the ACA as “DOA” – Dead on Arrival.
Specifically, there are four steps that the states can take to halt the enforcement of ObamaCare.
First, ban state enforcement of and participation in ObamaCare. Without the support of the states, the ACA is a dead letter. Let’s face it, the federal government can’t even operate a website. How can they, without the states’ help, administer a program of this scale in all 50 states? I think we all know the answer to that question: they can’t.
Second, reject Medicaid expansion within the states. One of the primary ways that the Democrats planned to pay for ObamaCare was to expand Medicaid at the state level. This was supposed to account for $2 trillion in new entitlement spending in the first 10 years. But 25 states have rejected Medicaid expansion, effectively defunding a quarter of the new spending. Furthermore, this action by the states has made the bill less popular among health care providers who will now be denied the subsidies that they were promised in return for their support.
Third, states should protect their residents from the ObamaCare insurance mandate tax. The mandate is truly the most monstrous feature of the health care law because it financially penalizes individuals who either don’t want insurance or can’t afford it. But the states can take steps to protect their citizens from the mandate through several avenues.
States can, for example, create a tax rebate for any resident who incurs a penalty (or tax, whatever the feds prefer to call it) under ObamaCare. While this wouldn’t stop the penalty from being assessed at the federal level, it would effectively nullify its impact on the individual citizens of a state.
The states can also prohibit city and county clerks and state-chartered banks from enforcing any IRS liens resulting from nonpayment of the ObamaCare tax. Furthermore, states that did not set up a state run ObamaCare exchange can actually block the ObamaCare tax by suspending the licenses of insurance companies that accept the subsidies that come with the law. Since no insurer would risk losing their business by accepting the subsidies, not a single employer in the state could be assessed the employer-mandate taxes that those subsidies trigger.
The fourth step is to challenge the IRS’s illegal ObamaCare taxes. Thirty-four states have banned the creation of state-run exchanges under the ACA. This is problematic for ObamaCare because the act authorizes subsidies only through state-established exchanges, not exchanges created by the federal government. So, by refusing to create state-based exchanges, those 34 states have effectively defunded one-third of the $2 trillion in entitlement spending.
Additionally, since it is only through the subsidies that tax penalties are triggered under the employer and individual mandates, these 34 states have exempted their employers and residents from the tax.
Unsurprisingly, the fact that these states haven’t complied hasn’t stopped the federal government from attempting to enforce the mandate taxes and issue the subsidies. To combat this illegal maneuver, state attorneys general, employers, school districts and individual taxpayers have already filed at least four lawsuits challenging the taxes. These legal challenges will be even more problematic for the implementation of ObamaCare when additional employers and state politicians follow suit.
Following these four steps at the state level provide a real chance to stop ObamaCare. If recent history is any guide, federal politicians can’t be trusted to repeal terrible, unconstitutional legislation, even when Republicans are in power.
But if the states reassert their constitutional right to resist unconstitutional laws, ObamaCare can easily be rendered null and void. The citizens of the states should encourage their state and local representatives to follow the examples of Georgia and South Carolina and follow these four steps to stop Obamacare.