Although Congress has postponed its attempts to repeal Obamacare, the signature legislative accomplishment of America’s 44th President continues to be the subject of debate as new information regarding its implementation comes to light.
A new report by Judicial Watch, reveals the Obama-era IRS and Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), along with the White House Behavior Sciences “Team,” coordinated to allegedly “pressure” citizens into enrolling in the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, circumventing legal prohibitions on unauthorized disclosure of IRS-collected taxpayer information.
Judicial Watch obtained two production of documents, 77 and 108 pages respectively, from the IRS in response to a 2017 lawsuit made after the IRS and HHS failed to respond to November 2016 requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests asked for records pertaining to individuals who claimed an exemption from Obamacare or who paid a penalty for neglecting to enroll in mandated health insurance per the Affordable Care Act
In addition, Judicial Watch called for the production of documents related to cooperation between the IRS and HHS or any other government entity with respect to outreach to individuals who did not purchase health insurance.
Obamacare laws only authorize HHS to send individuals notifications of their healthcare options. But the documents released to Judicial Watch indicate HHS may have overstepped its authority when it sent letters that apparently threatened individuals with penalty fees for not enrolling in Obamacare.
The IRS provided HHS with information on taxpayers who either received exemptions from the Affordable Care Act or who paid penalties to avoid signing up for health insurance. The Obama White House’s Behavior Science Team provided input for the letters.
In total, the three agencies spent $5 million on the letters sent with the purpose of encouraging voters to sign-up for Obamacare. The correspondence included language that can be interpreted as “threatening.” One of the drafts read:
“The law requires people to have a minimum level of health coverage, quality for an exemption, or pay a penalty when they file their taxes. Our records show you claimed an exemption from the health coverage requirement when you filed your 2015 taxes. If you or someone in your family doesn’t have health insurance or an exemption next year, you’ll likely owe a penalty for 2017.”
Obama-era IRS and Department of Health & Human Services pressured citizens into enrolling in Obamacare using IRS-collected taxpayer information. Was this yet another abuse of power?
The letter went on to encourage Obamacare enrollment. “We are writing to make sure you know how you can avoid this penalty by signing up for health insurance or getting an exemption.” The documents released to Judicial Watch are part of a series of five promised document productions for this case. The IRS says it will complete document production by January 24, 2018.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton was forward in his assertion that this information is damaging for the reputation of the Affordable Care Act. “So now we have more evidence of more Obama IRS abuses targeting innocent Americans – all in the name of Obamacare,” Fitton said.
“No wonder it took a federal lawsuit and court order to get these documents—as they show the Obama White House and its agencies were happy to threaten and treat Americans like lab rats in order to bolster Obamacare.”