By Sarah KliffThe Obama administration wants to turn you against your own health coverage by forcing you to pay higher premiums and deductibles to buy insurance.
This week, the White House and a federal appeals court said it has authority to compel consumers to buy health insurance on a voluntary basis.
The Obama administration says its new rules will protect consumers from price gouging, while the American Medical Association, which represents most of the country’s medical professionals, opposes them as unnecessary and potentially expensive.
The Obama White House has proposed a new rule that will compel consumers and small businesses to buy coverage on a mandatory basis, a key part of the Affordable Care Act.
But the appeals court ruled that this is not an outright requirement and could be waived, according to a legal brief.
In the lawsuit, the American Health Care Association and the National Federation of Independent Business argue that the mandate is unnecessary because the federal government has long been allowed to set its own rates.
The appeals court, however, disagreed.
The government can set its premiums at whatever level it wants and the mandate would violate that principle, the court said.
The government has the power to set the rates it pays insurers, but the court wrote that the federal penalty for not doing so would be too high and “would likely have a chilling effect on the ability of small businesses and consumers to choose among competing offers.”
The Obama Administration’s new rules also could lead to higher costs for consumers who have preexisting conditions, the appeals case said.
That could reduce the number of Americans who buy health coverage and drive up the cost of the plans they choose.
The lawsuit also said the new rules would impose significant financial burdens on businesses.
The court also said that the Obama Administration could compel individuals to purchase health insurance through the insurance marketplaces set up under the Affordable Act.
Under the ACA, individuals can choose health plans through the exchanges and pay premiums and co-payments directly to the insurer.
But the Obama White’s claim that its new requirements would protect consumers is unfounded, the ruling said.
It would require consumers to pay more than the cost they would pay to purchase their own coverage, and the penalties would be “unnecessary and likely excessive,” the court ruled.
The American Health Association and National Federation for Independent Business sued the Obama government on behalf of more than 20 million people.
The association argued that the new requirements were an unnecessary burden and were “undue, disproportionate, and unconstitutionally broad.”
The administration has a long history of imposing penalties on people who do not buy insurance on the exchanges.
For example, the administration has sued a Texas hospital, which refused to insure a patient because it said it would pay higher co-pays.
The appeals court decision, however will have broad impact.
If the court upholds the new rule, the Department of Health and Human Services could have the power, in effect, to set premiums and limit the number and size of plans that individuals can buy.
The administration is also likely to appeal the ruling.
It could argue that some insurers are already charging higher premiums than the new law requires and that the Supreme Court should review the case.