Republicans have found yet another way to challenge the Affordable Care Act in court.
Arguments begin Tuesday in an appeals court case brought by Republican states and the federal Justice Department seeking to declare ObamaCare unconstitutional. The newest challenge to the health care law comes after the 2017 GOP tax act erased a penalty for people who didn't buy health insurance, and Republicans say that invalidates the ACA as a whole, NBC News reports.
The case, which will appear before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, centers around the ACA's individual mandate. The mandate was declared constitutional in a 2012 Supreme Court case, which said Congress' power of taxation allowed it to impose taxes on those who didn't buy health insurance. But with the penalty slashed to zero under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a Republican coalition is now arguing that the lack of a tax means it's out of Congress' reach.
A group of GOP state attorneys general and governors first brought the suit to a Texas court last September, with Democratic attorneys general fighting back. A judge in that case sided with the Republicans and declared the ACA unconstitutional, though several analyses predicted the decision wouldn't affect health care coverage very much. The ACA's backers appealed the decision, and now, President Trump has dispatched Justice Department lawyers to add to the case against the health care act. Three judges, including one appointed by Trump, will hear the case. Kathryn Krawczyk
The Supreme Court will hear yet another case involving the Affordable Care Act, it announced Monday. This isn't a challenge to the act itself, but rather a lawsuit from health care providers and health insurers who claim ObamaCare cost them $12 billion in lost payments.
Former President Barack Obama's signature act largely took effect in 2014, but soon after, Republicans had passed a provision requiring it was budget neutral, CNN notes. That provision didn't come until insurers had already set their 2014 rates, meaning they had accounted for a higher federal reimbursement than they would now actually receive. Three small insurers tallied that loss up to $12 billion, and sued the federal government over it.
An appeals court decided against two of the carriers last June, prompting four of them to join together to bring the case to the Supreme Court. Beyond reimbursing that total, a ruling in the insurers' favor could set the agenda for similar pending cases, CNN continues. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Attorneys general in mostly blue states have filed briefs in support of the insurers.
This case will be the fifth involving ObamaCare to come up before the Supreme Court, Politico says. Another constitutional challenge to the ACA, led by Republicans, could also head to the Supreme Court soon. Kathryn Krawczyk