Are Obamacare Enrollment Pressures Unconstitutional?
As each day passes, the various facets of Obamacare are getting implemented in order to be fully operational by January 1, 2014. But we are hearing about the difficulties in the implementation caused primarily by either 1) the website fiasco; 2) low number of enrollees; and 3) people wanting to pay the penalties in order to avoid having to pay for intentionally overpriced health “insurance”.
In order to achieve adequate and targeted enrollment in Obamacare those representing the Government have begun to be aggressive. They are choosing to use all methods at their disposal to pressure, cajole, and otherwise push people to “do the right thing” and buy the mandated insurance product. This began in earnest last spring, as the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was given millions at her disposal to dispatch “navigators” and “in-person assisters” to help enroll more Americans into Obamacare. But the very act of doing so may be rendering Obamacare unconstitutional.
It is worthwhile to remember that the only way in which the law of Obamacare was saved from being declared unconstitutional was the that that there is no penalty associated with Obamacare, which would have made it subject to the Commerce Clause. It was ruled to be a “tax” derived from not purchasing the mandated health coverage. In reaching his conclusion, Justice Roberts accepted the Administration’s argued position that there is absolutely no negative interference whatsoever on anyone opting to pay the “tax” rather than buy the product.
Therefore, any attempt by the administration or any of the implementing bodies to pressure, threaten or even imply some sort of wrongdoing by those choosing to not buy insurance would be clearly unconstitutional.
If those implementing Obamacare are properly following the Supreme Court’s mandate, they should be telling prospective insurance purchasers that they should be deciding for themselves whether they would be better off with the insurance or the penalty. We know this is not happening. At the macro level, governors have been hustled to implement the exchanges in their states. And at the individual level, Obamacare officials are pushing for more enrollees to ensure a steady flow of premiums paid by healthy patients in order to cover those who are high-risk and high-cost.
Just a few recent examples:
1) The LGBT Community created an Out2Enroll campaign to encourage LGBT to enroll in Obamacare after “the Obama administration called a meeting of LGBT leaders in mid-September. Nearly 200 from across the country met with the White House to talk about the potential impact of Obamacare. It also looked at what LGBT leaders could do to spread the word.”
2) Latinos with green cards were pushed to enroll in Obamacare at a recent forum marketed on the Get Covered America website. “Get Covered America is the nonprofit publicity and recruitment arm of “Enroll America,” which aims to ‘maximize the number of uninsured Americans who enroll in health coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act,’ according to its website”. Enroll America also has people going door-to-door with clipboards to sign people up, according to the Washington Post.
3) Hollywood celebrities teamed up with the White House to learn how to help shill for Obamacare. “Back in July, a group of Hollywood stars gathered at the White House to strategize a push for registration after the October 1 rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Among others, Amy Poehler, Jennifer Hudson, Kal Penn, and representatives for Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys, and the Funny or Die team offered their influence during a meeting with senior aide Valerie Jarrett and, briefly, President Obama himself”.
4) Government-funded Navigator Grants are setting up neighborhood centers for Obamacare enrollment. According to this story about a center with ties to former ACORN execs, “The government has given out $67 million in Navigator grants to help with the controversial rollout of ObamaCare. It was not clear if Local 100 got a grant of its own, but it has set up a help center with Southern United Neighborhoods, a charity founded in March 2010 with many former ACORN members, to enroll people in ObamaCare. Southern United Neighborhoods received a Navigator grant of $486,123”
5) The White House kicked off a 6 month ad campaign a week before the October 1 starting sign-up date. The objective of the ad blitz is “to encourage millions of Americans to sign up for health coverage under ‘Obamacare’ an effort in which the president and other political celebrities promote the law’s promise of subsidized health coverage”.
Are these government-backed and/or funded pushes to enroll in Obamacare violating the constitutionality of Obamacare with regard to negative interference?
The SCOTUS ruling hinged on the government not implying that people are doing anything wrong by not signing up. It is a tax that citizens are allowed to pay in lieu of enrollment. But with such a massive effort touting Obamacare, the government is directly interfering in the choice. There is no neutrality. It amounts to coercion, and creates the implication that by not enrolling, citizens are doing a bad thing. Does this contradict the Supreme Court decision?