At that time, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she was committed to fixing the program, maybe by forcing individuals to enroll with a separate mandate. In fact, Secretary Sebelius declined to rule out that possibility. When the law was being written, Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) had the sense to insist on giving the Secretary of HHS the discretion to modify the program if it appeared to be unworkable.
So, it was last October when Sebelius finally notified Congress that the CLASS Act, being voluntary, was unsustainable and unable to be implemented. In a letter to Congress, she wrote, “Despite our best analytical efforts (which have characteristically been flawed), I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time.”
But now, HHS unexpectedly (because of the Supreme Court allowance to tax) has an exciting new opportunity to bring CLASS back from the grave as was Lazarus (John 11:44). Chief Justice Roberts said in his ruling on the health care law:
The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax…. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.
So, the government can force Americans to buy anything by simply characterizing the forced payment as a “tax.” This would give the Obama administration and Secretary Sebelius the authority to transmigrate the CLASS Act and tax citizens into paying for expensive premiums to support CLASS. It would no longer be voluntary. If the President is reelected, such an enormously costly move is surely possible. It has the regulatory glow that exhilarates Secretary Sebelius and drives our spendthrift President. CLASS is dead, and Republicans want to get it off the books completely. But Obama won’t repeal it.
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