Eureka! House Republicans Discover Way to Stop ObamaCare (Not)

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As the governor frets over what to do about ObamaCare, House Republicans think they've found a way to put the kibosh on the whole deal. A House subcommittee voted yesterday to bar Tennessee insurance companies from participating in the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchange. So Tennesseans looking to buy insurance to take care of their families in case of illness would go to the exchange on the Internet and find no one there to sell them anything. Hah!

It's ingenious! The bill's sponsor, Rep. Vance Dennis, calls it the "Achilles heel of Obamacare." With Tennessee blazing the trail, other states will follow and ObamaCare will die.

"With this bill, I bring you the opportunity for your children and grandchildren and my children and grandchildren to save billions and billions of dollars of money being borrowed against them by the federal government," Dennis told a House subcommittee yesterday.

There are only a couple of little problems. One is that pesky Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution prohibiting states from preempting federal laws. As the state attorney general's office said in an opinion just this week, that makes Dennis' bill constitutionally suspect. According to the opinion:

[W]hen a federal law specifically relates to the business of insurance, the states remain authorized to regulate the business of insurance but are subject to the limitations imposed by the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. ... Congress has designed the exchanges to facilitate the purchase of qualified health plans and to create a more organized and competitive market for buying health insurance. Preventing insurance companies licensed in Tennessee from selling or offering health insurance coverage through an exchange established for Tennesseans under ACA stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of Congress’s objectives.

And even if the bill weren't unconstitutional, it wouldn't work. If Tennessee insurance companies are barred from participating in the exchange, guess what? Out-of-state companies will do it. Screwing Tennessee companies is all the legislature will accomplish. Insurance company lobbyists tried to explain this to lawmakers, but the subcommittee went for the bill anyway.

Update: Our sarcasm alarm is going off. At Post Politics, J.R. wonders: "Thousands of lawyers, hundreds of Congressmen, millions of dollars spent at the best conservative think tanks in the world. Why didn't they think of this?"

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