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Tag: Legal Challenges

Supreme Court orders Fourth Circuit to hear Liberty case

Posted by Michal McDowell on November 26, 2012

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to examine the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) employer requirement to cover contraceptives without a co-pay. This move could put the ACA in front of the Supreme Court again as early as next year. The order was in response to a request from Liberty University, one of the groups that sued over the mandate in 2010. After the June ruling, the Supreme Court dismissed Liberty’s entire lawsuit. Over this past summer, Liberty asked the Supreme Court to reopen the arguments pertaining to the employer mandate and the contraceptive coverage mandate. The court agreed to the request and today’s order instructs the Fourth Circuit to review both pieces of the argument.

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Judge exempts religious company from ACA’s contraception requirement

Posted by Michal McDowell on November 19, 2012

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton granted a preliminary injunction to Tyndale House Publishers, enabling the company to reject the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision which requires employers to provide its employees with contraceptive coverage. The company argued that it does not want to cover contraceptives, as it  views them as abortions.

Plan B and IUDs are the contraceptives at issue in the case. If a woman is already pregnant, the Plan B pill has no effect. Plan B merely prevents ovulation or fertilization of an egg. Plan B can also prevent a fertilized egg from implanting on the uterine wall. IUDs mainly work by blocking sperm, but may also have the same anti-implantation effect. According to Tyndale, this implantation prevention is not morally different than abortion.

Tyndale president and CEO Mark D. Taylor filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last month, arguing that the provision causes employers to violate their religious beliefs.

In his decision, Judge Walton acknowledged that the government has interests in promoting public health and ensuring that women have equal access to health care, but he said that the government has not offered proof that the ACA’s contraceptive coverage provision furthers these interests.

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DOJ will not attempt to block new challenges to ACA

Posted by Michal McDowell on November 1, 2012

The Department of Justice (DOJ) told the Supreme Court yesterday that they would not attempt to block requests to reopen a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Such a lawsuit could potentially place the ACA in front of the Supreme Court again as early as next year.

In 2010, Liberty University sued over the minimum coverage provision and other aspects of the ACA, but the case was set aside when the 26 states and NFIB case went before the Supreme Court. Because the court upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate in its June 28th decision, it essentially tossed out Liberty’s lawsuit. Liberty now wants the Supreme Court to review its other challenges to the ACA.

Specifically, Liberty claims that the law’s employer coverage requirements are unconstitutional, as the mandate’s contraception coverage requirement violates the right to freely exercise religion. Over 30 such claims have been filed against the Obama administration. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s letter to the court states that although the DOJ believes that the Liberty claims “lack merit,” the DOJ does not oppose the courts reviewing the suit.

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Update: Legal Challenges to the Affordable Care Act — Liberty v. Geithner Petition for Rehearing

Posted by Mark Dorley on October 25, 2012

One of a number of lawsuits filed in opposition to the ACA was Liberty University, Inc., et al. v. Geithner et al. Under this lawsuit in 2010, a private Christian university and a number of individual petitioners sued the government to block enforcement of the ACA’s employer requirement to provide health insurance coverage to employees, as well as the individual requirement to maintain health insurance coverage. The district court in the Western District of Virginia rejected all the plaintiffs’ claims, which included challenges based on the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, the Tenth Amendment, the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). On appeal, the Fourth Circuit held that the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) barred federal courts…

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Bible publisher files suit regarding contraception coverage requirement

Posted by Michal McDowell on October 8, 2012

A private company in Delaware that publishes Bibles, Tyndale House Publishers, has filed suit against the Obama administration, arguing that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) requirement that employers cover contraception as a preventive service is unconstitutional. Tyndale filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the company.

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Supreme Court asks for Government Response to Liberty University ACA Re-Hearing Request

Posted by Mark Dorley on October 1, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court has asked the United States Solicitor General to file a response within 30 days to Liberty University’s request for a re-hearing in federal appellate court of its claims in the case of Liberty Univ. v. Geithner. In that case, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) barred it from entertaining Liberty University’s pre-enforcement challenges against the Affordable Care Act. Because the Supreme Court subsequently ruled in National Federation of Independent Business, et al. v. Sebelius that the AIA did not apply in the context of the ACA, Liberty University has…

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Update: Legal Challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Maintenance of Effort Provisions

Posted by Mark Dorley on September 26, 2012

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), in addition to expanding coverage to individuals with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), includes provisions designed to preserve existing Medicaid coverage — known as the maintenance of effort provision, or MOE — until the ACA is fully implemented. The ACA’s MOE provision requires states to maintain their current Medicaid eligibility standards, methodologies, and procedures until the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) determines that a state Exchange is fully operational. For children, the ACA’s MOE extends through September 30, 2019. States may reduce eligibly for certain non-pregnant, non-adult…

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Oklahoma challenges ACA in lawsuit

Posted by Michal McDowell on September 20, 2012

Yesterday, Oklahoma’s attorney general Scott Pruitt filed suit challenging the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The challenge focuses on the penalties that large employers would pay if they do not offer affordable health care coverage for employees, as mandated under the ACA. Oklahoma had previously joined 25 other states in arguing that ACA was unconstitutional due to the minimum coverage provision. However, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate in its landmark June 28th decision.

The new complaint focuses on…

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Congressional Budget Office and Joint Tax Committee Estimates of Cost and Coverage under the ACA after the Supreme Court Ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius and the Effects of H.R. 6079, the Repeal Obamacare Act

Posted by Michal McDowell on August 1, 2012

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the legislative branch agency responsible for estimating the cost of legislation, issued two reports on July 24th related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The first report, revised cost and health insurance coverage estimates for the ACA in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius[1]. In that ruling, the Court concluded the individual requirement to purchase health insurance coverage, while not a reasonable exercise of congressional Commerce Clause authority, is constitutional as a tax under congressional Spending Clause authority. The Court also held that the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, requiring states to cover all non-elderly individuals with incomes below 133[2] percent of the federal poverty level was unconstitutional. However, rather than striking the requirement, the Court precluded the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from enforcing the mandate by withholding all Medicaid funds. As a result of the ruling, states now have the option of expanding coverage to 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), and will receive enhanced federal matching funds as provided under the law, but are not required to expand coverage.[3]

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KFF paper reviews Supreme Court decision

Posted by Michal McDowell on July 23, 2012

On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion about regarding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In a case known as National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Court agreed to consider the constitutionality of two major provisions of the ACA: the individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion. A majority of the Court upheld the individual mandate. And, while the Court found the Medicaid expansion unconstitutionally coercive of states, because states did not have adequate notice to voluntarily consent and the Secretary could potentially withhold all of a state’s existing federal Medicaid funds for non-compliance, a majority of the Court found that this issue was appropriately remedied by circumscribing the Secretary’s enforcement authority, thus leaving the Medicaid expansion intact in the ACA. A policy brief recently released by the Kaiser Family Foundation describes the Court’s decision and looks ahead to the implementation of health reform now that the constitutionality of the ACA has been resolved.

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