Florida Employer Sues Federal Government over Obamacare

On October 1, in the wake of the federal government shutdown, a Florida business owner has announced the filing of a federal lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s authority to delay the enactment of the so-called employer mandate provision of the Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as Obamacare (Kawa Orthodontics, LLP vs. Jack Lew, et al., (No. 9:13-cv-80990)).

Dr. Larry Kawa, owner/medical director of Kawa Orthodontics, has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service. The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, West Palm Beach Division, additionally names Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew and IRS Acting Director Daniel Werfel and challenges the Obama administration's authority to waive the timely implementation of the law’s employer mandate.

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Chris Lunny of the Reade Law Firm in conjunction with Judicial Watch. In documents filed with the Court, plaintiffs allege that delay of the employer mandate "exceeded [the Obama administration's] statutory authority, is arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law, and is otherwise unlawful." The lawsuit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief under the Administrative Procedure Act.

According to certain provisions of the law, employers identified as having more than 50 full-time equivalent employees are required to offer “affordable,” “minimum essential” healthcare coverage to their employees and their dependents in the “months beginning after December 31, 2013.” The administration has postponed effective date of the employer mandate to 2015. 

According to Dr. Kawa, “change of the law, such as waiver of the employer mandate requires Congressional action.” When asked his personal views on the law, Dr. Kawa stated that although he disagrees with Obamacare and its implementation, he has invested significant time and money preparing for it.

“I am willing to abide by the law,” said Kawa, “but it is difficult when the administration keeps moving the goal posts... What I want is for the administration to disclose the authority under which the employer mandate can be waived.”

In a press conference to announce the lawsuit Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch stated,

We obviously object to the employer mandate and the entire Obamacare law, but we understand that, under the U.S. Constitution, the law can only be changed by legislation passed by Congress and signed by the president. President Obama would delay the damage of his health care scheme until after the 2014 congressional elections. But politics do not trump the Constitution or the rule of law.

Leah Durant is a political commentator and lawyer in private practice in Washington, D.C.


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