Boehner’s Office on Obama ‘Rewriting’ ACA: ‘We Are Examining All of Our Options’

February 11, 2014 - 4:36 PM

John Boehner and Eric Cantor

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Speaker John Boehner (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(CNSNews.com) - House Speaker John Boehner’s office said today that he is examining options on how to respond to what the speaker yesterday characterized as President Barack Obama’s “rewriting” of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “on a whim.”

“We are examining all of our options,” Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel told CNSNews.com on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Treasury Department announced a new regulation that frees employers with between 50 and 99 employees from complying until 2016 with the Affordable Care Act mandate that requires all employees with at least 50 full-time workers to buy them health insurance.

Under the law, such employers were required to comply with the insurance mandate by Jan. 1, 2014--or pay a fine to the federal government.

The administration's new regulation also changed the nature of the mandate for employers with 100 or more employees, stating that they would only need to insure 70 percent of their workforce in 2015 to escape a penalty.

The new regulation directly violates the plain language of the Affordable Care Act. The act says “an employer who employed an average of at least 50 full-time employees on business days during the preceding calendar year” must purchase “minimum essential coverage” for those employees.

In imposing a statutory deadline for doing so, the law says: “EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013.”

On July 2, 2013, Obama unilaterally moved the deadline for the employer mandate from the beginning of 2014 to the beginning of 2015. He did so without asking Congress to change the law--and in direct contradiction to the law itself. On Monday, Obama again unilaterally moved the deadline for the employer mandate, this time pushing it back to the beginning of 2016 for businesses with between 50 and 99 full-time employees, and saying that employers with more than 99 employees need only insure 70 percent of their workforce.

“Once again, the president is giving a break to corporations while individuals and families are still stuck under the mandates of his health care law. And, once again, the president is rewriting law on a whim,” Boehner said in a statement released Monday in response to the new regulation.

“This continued manipulation by the president breeds confusion and erodes Americans confidence in him and his health care law,” said Boehner.

At a press briefing by the House Republican leadership on Tuesday, Boehner said that the House would be taking up a bill to increase the debt limit that would not include any countervailing provisions, such as cuts in spending. Boehner said this increase in the debt limit would be passed with the votes of the House Democrats and a “minimum number” of Republicans, including himself.

Later on Tuesday, CNSNews.com asked Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel two questions in light of the Boehner’s statement that Obama, in unilaterally changing the Affordable Care Act, was “rewriting law on whim.”

CNSNews.com asked: "1) Does Speaker Boehner intend to lead the House of Representatives in using its constitutional powers to in any way to counter or reverse the president’s unilateral “rewriting” of the Affordable Care Act?” 2) If Speaker Boehner intends to the lead the House in such an action, what will that action be?"

“We are examining all of our options,” Boehner’s spokesman Steel said in response. He could not say when the speaker’s office would be able to announce what action it had decided to take.