WASHINGTON — Rep. Michele Bachmann and a group of Republicans are considering suing the Obama administration over the changes it’s made to the Affordable Care Act’s implementation timeline.
Obama announced last week he would allow, for one year, consumers to keep insurance plans even if they don’t meet the law’s new coverage requirements. In Minnesota, that fix hasn’t worked as planned — the state’s providers objected to the new guidelines and Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday they wouldn’t need to offer their substandard plans again.
The Obama administration has delayed other sections of the law — perhaps most notably the so-called “employer mandate” back in July — but some opponents of the law were especially critical of the president’s move last week. In a statement after his fix was announced, Bachmann said, “A decree brought down on high from President Obama is not how the legislative process works.”
Today, she told a Heritage Foundation crowd she’s thinking of taking the issue to court. From Politico:
Rep. Michele Bachmann said she is in discussions with a group of Republicans to file a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for moving to end the cancellation of health care policies through administrative action. …
Bachmann (R-Minn.) said by changing the law administratively instead of through legislation in Congress, the president violated the separation of powers clause in the Constitution.
“That’s the essence of lawlessness and now it’s our time to defend our prerogative,” Bachmann said, speaking at a monthly conservative event sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.
According to Bachmann’s office, a lawsuit isn’t imminent, although her spokesman said in a statement, “She and some of her colleagues have had discussions about the best recourse to put a stop to his unconstitutional actions.”
The White House says the Supreme Court has given agencies the authority to tweak laws’ implementation schedules. Here’s a Health and Human Services statement the Washington Post received last week when it asked about the legal justification for the fix:
“The Supreme Court held more than 25 years ago that agencies charged with administering statues have inherent authority to exercise discretion to ensure that their statutes are enforced in a manner that achieves statutory goals and are consistent with other administrative policies. Agencies may exercise this discretion in appropriate circumstances, including when implementing new or different regulatory regimes, and to ensure that transitional periods do not result in undue hardship.”
The Post talked to a legal scholar who said agencies have “very broad discretion” to implement laws how — and when — they see fit.
Devin Henry can be reached at email@example.com.