Health Law’s Momentous Day In Court
Tuesday’s Hearing Could Catapult ACA Debate Toward Supreme Court
Kaiser Health News – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit will hear oral arguments on Tuesday in the high-profile lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health law.
The issue is on a likely path toward the Supreme Court, which would put it center stage in the 2020 elections.
Although Republicans have adamantly pushed to overturn the law, that position did not prove successful for them in the most recent election cycle.
- The Washington Post: 5th Circuit Decision On ACA Could Create Political Havoc For GOP
The judges of the marbled appellate courthouse in the heart of New Orleans once upended civil rights law, issuing rulings that propelled desegregation. This summer, they could upend health-care law and with it, the roiling politics of health care in Congress, the White House and the 2020 campaigns.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration and 18 Republican-led states will face off against a score of Democratic-led states over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — the sprawling law the Supreme Court has upheld twice but a federal district judge in Texas ruled invalid late last year. (Goldstein, 7/7)
- CNN: Affordable Care Act Gears Up For Big Fight Over Its Existence
The case, to be heard Tuesday by a three-judge appeals court panel, was initiated by Texas and other Republican-led states. Joined now fully by the Department of Justice, they want the ACA declared unconstitutional.
At an earlier stage of this litigation, the Trump administration had said only certain parts of the law, tied to the individual insurance requirement, should be struck down. (Biskupic, 7/8)
- Bloomberg: Obamacare’s Survival May Hinge On Some Technical Legal Questions
The three appellate judges — two appointed by Republican presidents and one by a Democrat — will consider the arguments on July 9. But before they get to the meat of the claim, they’ll wrestle with a more basic question: Who has the right to even be in the case.
That issue arose a few months ago when Trump signaled he’d no longer defend the law, after initially saying elements of the ACA might be worth saving. The judges have already asked the sides to weigh in on whether Democrats can defend the law if Trump won’t.
Legal scholars say procedural questions like that might determine the outcome of the case rather than the merits of each side’s arguments. (Davenport and Calkins, 7/8)
- Austin American-Statesman: In Court, It’s Red Texas Vs. Blue California For Future Of Obamacare
Leading the fight to preserve the law is California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat who believes Paxton and others are deluded if they think a gridlocked Congress — where Republicans have tried and failed more than 70 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act — could fill the void if Obamacare is struck down.
Becerra called the legal challenge a dangerous and reckless move. (Lindell, 7/5)
- Texas Tribune: Texas Is Going To Court To End Obamacare. It Has No Plan To Replace It.
Attorneys for the state of Texas argue the health law cannot stand since the Republican-led Congress in 2017 zeroed out Obamacare’s individual mandate — a penalty imposed on people who chose to remain uninsured.
Democrats had favored the penalty as a way to induce more people to purchase health insurance, with the goal of reaching near-universal coverage.
Without it, Texas argues, the whole law must fall. But the state’s Republican leaders have offered few ideas about what should replace Obamacare, a law that touches practically every aspect of health care regulations and includes several popular protections for patients.
Gov. Greg Abbott — a vocal critic of the law — pledged in December that if the law remained struck down on appeal, “Texas will be ready with replacement health care insurance that includes coverage for pre-existing conditions.” (Platoff and Walters, 7/8)
- The Hill: ObamaCare Repeal Lawsuit Faces Major Court Test
Legal experts on both sides of the aisle say the challengers’ legal arguments are weak and the lawsuit is unlikely to ultimately succeed, but nothing is assured.
And regardless of the outcome, Democrats are using the lawsuit to argue Republicans are a threat to the 20 million people who rely on ObamaCare for health insurance. (Sullivan, 7/7)
- USA Today: Affordable Care Act Threatened As Trump Administration, GOP States Fight US House, Democratic States In Court
We have been here before: in 2012, when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the law, known as Obamacare, was constitutional under Congress’ power of taxation; and again in 2015, when it saved the law’s critical tax credits in federal as well as state insurance exchanges.
But in December, federal District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that by repealing the tax on people who refuse to buy insurance, Congress in 2017 rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional and, by extension, the law itself.
The repeal was included in the $1.5 trillion tax cut pushed through the Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President Donald Trump. (Wolf, 7/7)
- CQ: High-Stakes Lawsuit Puts Health Care Law In 2020 Spotlight
The legal challenge hasn’t been a primary focus for most Democrats since March, but could play a major role in the party’s 2020 strategy, as it did last year when Democrats won back the House for the first time since 2008.
Democrats attribute that win to campaigning on the health care law’s protections for people with preexisting conditions as the Trump administration fought to undermine them in court. (McIntire, 7/8)
- The CT Mirror: Health Care Of Thousands In CT At Stake As Court Set To Hear ACA Case
A federal appeals court is about to hear oral arguments in a case that could invalidate the Affordable Care Act, which would imperil health care coverage for tens of thousands of people in Connecticut.
About 111,000 residents purchase their insurance through Access Health CT, the state’s health care exchange. Another 267,722 low-income adults have coverage through the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, known as HUSKY in Connecticut. (Radelat, 7/8)
- CNN: 5 Ways Trump Is Undermining Obamacare Without The Courts
Obamacare is facing its next big court challenge this week, but regardless of what the judges decide, President Donald Trump has already succeeded in hobbling the landmark health reform law.
Trump has been trying to dismantle Obamacare from the first day he took office. Hours after his inauguration, he signed an executive order directing agencies to interpret regulations as loosely as possible and to minimize the financial burden of the law through waivers, exemptions or delays. (Luhby, 7/7)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.