The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Opinion

February 15, 2011

Kay Bailey Hutchison: Obamacare is unconstitutional

WASHINGTON, DC — Since passage of the Obama health care law, the Administration has released over 6,000 pages of new regulations instructing states, businesses, and individuals how to comply with this law. These new regulations and mandates will levy hefty costs on businesses, families, and the American taxpayer.  Meanwhile, there are serious concerns about whether this costly and consequential law is even constitutional.

On January 31, 2011, federal District Court Judge Roger Vinson of the Northern District Court in Florida became the second federal judge to rule that the Obama health care law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional. The judge determined that Congress does not have the constitutional power to require Americans to buy health insurance. This is the second federal court to strike down the individual mandate, and the judge’s ruling went even further by declaring the entire law invalid.

By finding the health law null and void, the Florida federal court is effectively ordering the government to stop enforcing the law on the states, which are responsible for implementing these new federal regulations. But the Obama Administration continues to roll out the health care law without regard to the court’s ruling, not taking any action to clarify how the Florida ruling impacts the states and whether they are obligated to comply.

 There are 26 states, including Texas, that joined efforts to challenge the constitutionality of President Obama’s health reform with this lawsuit. After the Florida judge’s ruling, states are responding differently. Florida has reportedly halted efforts to implement the law, while other states, like Texas, are pressing forward on the chance the law is ultimately found constitutional. This disparity in implementation makes no sense, and it threatens a massive waste of taxpayer dollars.

In addition to the soaring national debt, now surpassing $14 trillion, states are facing an estimated $125 billion budget shortfall – this year alone. At a time when state governments are experiencing record-level budget deficits, it is unthinkable for the federal government to force the states to shoulder additional costly regulations, particularly when the constitutionality of these mandates is in question and the law may eventually be decisively ruled null and void.

In order to put all states on equal footing and to prevent further waste of taxpayer dollars while these lawsuits go through the federal court system, I recently introduced the Save Our States (SOS) Act. My bill places a moratorium on any further implementation of the Obama health care law until there has been final resolution of the lawsuits. Under the moratorium, no state has to spend any additional time and resources to comply with the law unless and until the individual mandate is ruled constitutional. My bill is rapidly gaining support in the Senate, and 33 of my colleagues have signed on as cosponsors.

The SOS Act is one important way we are fighting the government takeover of our nation’s health care system. But it isn’t the only way. In late January, the Senate took up the House-passed health care repeal bill, and 47 of my colleagues and I voted to abandon the onerous legislation altogether so we can replace it with the real reforms we need. Comprehensive repeal efforts were narrowly defeated in the Senate. Now we will work to dismantle the health care law one provision at a time, if necessary.

The Senate did pass the first effort to repeal a provision in the Obama health care law. The 1099 tax reporting requirement, which forced all businesses to file paperwork for every business-to-business transaction exceeding $600, was repealed. This tax requirement diverted scarce time and resources from business-building and job-creating efforts, and it was a huge success to repeal it.

In addition to the SOS Act, I am also focusing my efforts on repealing two provisions in the law that limit a patient’s choice in how to use consumer-directed health savings plans.  I have introduced legislation to strike these arbitrary limitations and put patients back in charge of how and when they’ll use health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts benefits.

The most recent court ruling only reaffirms what we already knew – the problems with the Obama health care law are fundamental, not cosmetic. One of our most pressing priorities in the coming months is to protect individuals from the law’s mandates and employers from expensive new regulations that are stifling job creation.

Kay Bailey Hutchison is the senior U.S. Senator from Texas.

 

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