FL orthodontist takes Obamacare fight to federal appeals court


By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It might be a long shot, but a South Florida orthodontist isn’t backing down from a fight he picked with the Obama administration.

MANDATE: Larry Kawa will have his day in court — the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Tuesday, Larry Kawa will have his day in federal court.

Kawa, of Boca Raton, sued the administration after it delayed the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate more than a year ago.

The mandate was supposed to take effect in January. But in a blog post months earlier, the administration announced a one-year delay. Then came another delay. Kawa’s business is now subject to the mandate in January 2016.

“I’ve spent over 100 hours and thousands of dollars (in attorneys’ and accountant fees) to make sure I was compliant with the law. But all that was wasted, and now I’ll have to do it all over again,” he told Watchdog.org in an interview.

The delay, Kawa argues, amounts to a change in the law.

His lawsuit is the only legal challenge to any of the administration’s 41 Obamacare-related executive actions.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, threatened to sue the administration over the employer mandate in July, but he hasn’t followed through.

Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog, will represent Kawa during oral arguments in front of a three-judge panel at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

A lower court in Florida dismissed Kawa’s case for lack of standing, or the ability to show an actual damage. In the ruling, a federal judge determined the employer mandate, an act of Congress, was only delayed and not changed.

Kawa vehemently disagrees.

“It’s not a delay. It’s a cancellation of an existing law,” he said. “A delay means you’re going to do the same thing relatively soon. That’s not accurate.”

“An express date was changed within a law that was passed in March 2010. Four years later they changed it, then they changed it again.”

Kawa said he’s likely to spend more resources in anticipation of the mandate progressing.

Under the law, Kawa Orthodontics is considered a large employer subject to the mandate because he employs more than 50 full-time equivalent workers. If it’s determined by the government he’s not in compliance with the health-care law, he faces $2,000 to $3,000 in tax penalties per worker.

Ironically, if Kawa were to win his lawsuit, the employer mandate would go into effect.

“I’m actually suing them to tax me,” he said.

“I’d rather pay than have the government pick and choose when to enforce a law. It’s not partisan, because we’re also trying to stop any future president from changing laws.”

Delaying, or changing, the employer mandate is expensive.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, employer penalties for 2014 were expected to top $10 billion and help offset Obamacare’s $1.375 trillion price tag.

Instead, taxpayers are picking up the bill, Kawa says.

“It’s like a tax break to large employers. If it’s about giving up my money or giving up the rule of law, I’ll give up my money,” Kawa said.