Morning Bell: Obamacare vs. the Rule of Law

Conn Carroll /

Health Insurers Plan Hikes. That was the headline of a Wall Street Journal story last Tuesday which reported: “Health insurers say they plan to raise premiums for some Americans as a direct result of the health overhaul in coming weeks, complicating Democrats’ efforts to trumpet their signature achievement before the midterm elections. Aetna Inc., some BlueCross BlueShield plans and other smaller carriers have asked for premium increases of between 1% and 9% to pay for extra benefits required under the law, according to filings with state regulators.” And The Wall Street Journal was not alone. The Los Angeles Times and Dallas Morning News also reported rate hikes in their states, some as high as 16%. And this comes on top of news that Obamacare is forcing health care companies to stop offering coverage for kids and forcing colleges to stop offering coverage for students.

Obamacare is deeply unpopular with the American people because, as the massive regulatory regime goes into effect, the American people are noticing that none of the administration’s major promises are being honored. The cost of health care is going up, not down. Health care spending is going up, not down. Millions of Americans are not able to keep their insurance. To combat this reality, the Obama administration struck back last Friday. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to America’s Health Insurance Plans warning them that “there will be zero tolerance” for “falsely blaming premium increases” on Obamacare. Specifically, Sebelius threatened to punish non-subservient firms by excluding them from the government regulated and mandated health insurance exchanges. Since these exchanges will be the primary way most Americans receive health insurance (especially if more private firms decide to end their current coverage) such a decision by Sebelius would be a death sentence for any insurer that does not comply.

Never before in the history of our republican form of government has an administration threatened to extinguish individual firms for merely communicating with their customers. But such are the dictatorial powers Obamacare grants to Secretary Sebelius. There are over 1,000 instances in the more than 2,700 page bill where Congress granted Secretary Sebelius new powers to regulate the health care industry. For example, her power to “determine” what does or does not count as a medical expense alone will decide the fate of many health insurance firms.

Is this the type of government our Founders intended our federal government to become? No. Hillsdale College Associate Professor of Political Science Ronald Pestritto explains:

The Founders understood that there are two fundamental ways in which government can exercise its authority. The first is a system of arbitrary rule, where the government decides how to act on an ad hoc basis, leaving decisions up to the whim of whatever official or officials happen to be in charge; the second way is to implement a system grounded in the rule of law, where legal rules are made in advance and published, binding both government and citizens and allowing the latter to know exactly what they have to do or not to do in order to avoid the coercive authority of the former.

Secretary Sebelius’ Hugo Chavezesque threats against the health insurance industry demonstrate why the fight to repeal Obamacare is also the fight for the soul of our country. Obamacare and the progressive movement represent a fundamental threat to our founding principles. For the left, “progress” means fundamentally transforming America through bureaucratic dictates that will engineer a “better” society by assuring equal outcomes. Through Obamacare, progressives would redistribute wealth through a distant, patronizing welfare state that regulates more and more of the economy, politics and society. The question Americans face is: Are we a country ruled by law or by bureaucrat?

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