Republicans Revive War on Obamacare
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The Fiscal Times
December 4, 2013

From district courts to Capitol Hill, Republicans and conservative groups are aggressively reviving their efforts to bring down Obamacare.

During a press conference with reporters right before the president’s speech Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called the Affordable Care Act “fundamentally flawed” and said it “continues to wreak havoc” on the economy and Americans’ health insurance coverage. Still, he declined to commit to allowing a vote on a GOP-designed 'patient-driven’ health care plan next year.

Related: Obamacare Mess Defines GOP Campaign Strategy

"The American people want to be able to pick their own type of health insurance, they want to be able to pick their own doctor, they want to be able to pick their own hospital," Boehner said. "That's what a patient-centered system looks like."

At the same time, Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee were taking their own jabs at Obamacare by challenging the constitutionality of the president’s recent rule changes at a hearing Tuesday.

Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) charged that the administration had “ignored the separation of powers and unilaterally granted itself the constitutional authority to amend the laws” with regard to the president’s latest rule change allowing insurers to continue offering plans for one more year that do not meet the ACA standards, as well as delaying the employer mandate by one year.

“This raw assertion of authority goes beyond the power granted to the president,” said Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

Democrats at the hearing waved off the accusations and called it a waste of time.

“We are throwing laws to the wasteland at this hearing, for it has no sense to it,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).

Related: Did Obama Flout the Law by Delaying Obamacare

The war on Obamacare goes well beyond Capitol Hill’s turf. Conservatives are launching attacks within the legal community as well.

“After the A.C.A. was enacted and after the president signed it, a lot of people — me included — decided that we weren’t going to take this lying down,” Michael F. Cannon, a health policy scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute, told The New York Times. “We were going to try to block it and ultimately either get the Supreme Court to overturn it or Congress to repeal it.”

One case before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia argues that the Internal Revenue Service does not have the legal authority to issue tax credits or subsidies to people who enrolled in insurance through the federal exchange, since the law specified that financial assistance would be granted to those enrolled in a state exchange.

The Obama administration says the language in the case was a drafting error, which can be reconciled after the law is passed.

Related: Battles over Obamacare Take on Campaign Style Fervor

Another case brought by the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation argues that the law is unconstitutional because it was introduced in the Senate and tax bills must originate in the House.

Several religious groups are also taking aim at the law, the latest comes from the University of Notre Dame, which filed a suit Tuesday challenging a rule by the administration that exempts religious employers like churches, but not nonprofits, like schools.

Experts say legal challenges to the ACA aren’t likely to stop any time soon. Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve University told The New York Times that the law will be the subject of litigation for years to come.

"Among critics of the law, there is a feeling that the law doesn't have the same legitimacy as a law that passed with bipartisan support," Adler said. 

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Washington Correspondent Brianna Ehley, based in D.C., covers Congress, government agencies and spending issues, health care, and tax and economic policy for The Fiscal Times.