By Alan Johnson
A fee charged to states, some local governments and universities under Obamacare is unconstitutional, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a federal lawsuit filed yesterday.
DeWine, a Republican, teamed with GOP officials in Warren County and four Ohio universities in the action filed in U.S. District Court.
Republicans see the assessed amount -- $5.3 million for the state and $100,000 for Warren County --1 1 1 as larger than dollars and cents.
"This tax assessment by the Obama administration is an unprecedented attempt to destroy the balance of authority between the federal government and the states," DeWine said in a statement. DeWine is a longtime opponent of the Affordable Care Act pushed by President Barack Obama.
The issue is the Transitional Reinsurance Program, a part of Obama's health-care law that assesses insurance companies and some employers -- including Ohio and some counties -- that provide insurance for employees. Obamacare includes the transitional fee to stabilize insurance premiums in the individual market over three years, 2014 to 2016.
Warren County Commissioner David Young called the fee "taxation without representation" and urged "all other affected state and local officials to join us in our stand against this unconstitutional seizing of taxpayer funds regardless of their political party."
The universities joining the lawsuit are Akron, Bowling Green, Shawnee State and Youngstown State.
DeWine wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell this month threatening to go to court over the matter. Ben Wakana, spokesman for Health and Human Services, said last week that officials "received the letter and are reviewing all the information. We will be responding in as timely a manner as possible."
Warren County Democrats denounced the lawsuit.
"This is a clear attempt by DeWine to distract the public from the real benefits the ACA has provided, and undermine public support for this important program that has made affordable health care accessible for our neighbors here in Warren County and throughout Ohio."
(c)2015 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)