WASHINGTON—GOP lawmakers are calling for the appointment of a special inspector general who would monitor implementation of the Affordable Care Act in an effort to curtail the Obama administration's use of administrative actions, or unilateral actions by the president and the executive branch, to make fixes to the health reform law.
“This administration is too eager to take unilateral actions to resolve thorny political problems,” Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's Oversight Subcommittee, said at a hearing Wednesday. “The Constitution is clear: Congress writes the law, and the president executes the law, period. The president cannot rewrite it. If the president can make up the law as he pleases, there is no accountability.”
The conservative-leaning Galen Institute has been chronicling changes made to the Affordable Care Act since it was enacted in 2010, and has noted at least 31 changes made by the administration without legislative action. These examples include delaying enforcement action on the employer mandate for one year and allowing people to temporarily stay in noncompliant ACA plans.
“We have a process by which laws are to be enacted and changed, and that process has not been followed in implementing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act,” Grace-Marie Turner, president of the organization, said at the hearing.
Roskam introduced a bill Monday that would create a special inspector general position focused explicitly on tracking ACA matters. Having such a role would ensure rigorous oversight is in place to prevent additional substantive changes to the ACA without a law being passed. It would also provide a supposedly independent voice on how exactly this law is affecting Americans. A bill authored by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) has also been introduced in the upper chamber.
Democrats at the hearing expressed frustration over Roskam's bill. It would be the 56th anti-Obamacare to pass the House if it successfully makes it through. If the Obama administration is truly in the wrong in how it's implemented the ACA, it's a matter for the U.S. Supreme Court, not Congress, they say.
“What can we do, file a lawsuit that would go to the Supreme Court?” Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.). “Assuming you are correct, and the president exceeded his constitutional responsibilities to the U.S., what can we do? There is already 55 times that Congress has indicated disapproval" of the law.