King Case Goes the Other Way on Federal Exchange Subsidies

    07/22/14

    By Hadley Heath Manning

    A split circuit, all in one day!

    Today, while the Court of Appeals in D.C. ruled against the government, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the government on the same issue.

    The ruling in D.C. was in Halbig v. Burwell, and the ruling in the Fourth Circuit was in King. v. Burwell. These two cases have similar arguments. Here is the ruling in King V. Burwell.

    Read more about the challenges to the IRS rule here

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    Halbig Victory at Appeals Court

    07/22/14

    By Hadley Heath Manning

    Today the federal U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. ruled against the government in Halbig v. Burwell. The three-judge panel sided with the law's challengers, who argued that the IRS does not have the authority to extend ObamaCare's subsidies to states that did not establish an ObamaCare exchange. In other words, the Court ruled to uphold ObamaCare as written. The text of the law specifies that only state-established exchanges (as opposed to federally-established exchanges) can disburse subsidies and tax-credits to certain middle- and low-income customers.

    Perhaps even more significant, this case could ultimately disrupt not only ObamaCare's subsidies, but the enforcement of the law's individual mandate and employer mandate. This case has the potential to undo major portions of ObamaCare in 36 states - the states that did not opt to establish their own ObamaCare exchange. Needless to say, this case poses a serious threat to ObamaCare.

    Halbig has been widely debated from the beginning, with supporters such as The Cato's Institute's Michael Cannon and Case Western professor Jonathan Adler and many naysayers including Washington and Lee's Timothy Jost.

    In today's ruling, federal Judges Thomas B. Griffith and A. Raymond Randolph ruled with the plaintiffs, and Judge Harry T. Edwards dissented. The next step will almost undoubtedly be an appeal from the government to the full circuit, meaning other judges who sit in the federal Court of Appeals in D.C.  would cast a vote in the case. From there, the case would head to the Supreme Court. Today's ruling at the appellate level is a huge blow to ObamaCare. 

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    House to Vote on ObamaCare Lawsuit

    07/10/14

    By Hadley Heath Manning

    Republicans in the House of Representatives will vote in late July about a potential lawsuit challenging President Obama's executive actions, specifically related to the enforcement of the Affordable Care Act (or ObamaCare).  Roll Call reports:

    The administration has delayed key deadlines in the law’s implementation, for instance the mandate that employers provide health coverage to their employees.

    Earlier this year, the administration also quietly changed provisions in the law making billions of taxpayer dollars available as risk insurance in case companies lose money by providing coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

    Targeting the health care law would be in keeping with Republicans’ political narrative, and if the law is unpopular nationwide, doing so would have little political downside. But questions remain about whether any case would pass muster in the courts, and the administration has argued that the Treasury Department has the authority to provide transition relief when implementing new legislation.

    Jonathan Turley, a professor of law at The George Washington University Law School, said Republicans could find the best chance to have their case heard if it targets the Affordable Care Act, particularly because language negotiated by Congress has been changed by the administration, opening up a balance of powers question.

     

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    Senator Johnson's "Exemption" Lawsuit Gets a Hearing

    07/08/14

    By Hadley Heath Manning

    Senator Ron Johnson's lawsuit had its first day in court Monday as a federal judge in Green Bay, WI, heard arguments from both sides. Sen. Johnson is challenging an Obama Administration decision to offer special treatment to Members of Congress and their staffs under the Affordable Care Act (or ObamaCare).  USA Today explains:

    When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, it resolved that members of Congress and staff should be treated the same way as most private citizens under the act, Johnson said.

    The Obama administration decided Congress members and staff members were eligible for a subsidy to pay for health insurance or that they could get coverage from one of the insurance exchanges set up for group policies to small businesses, the SHOP exchanges, Johnson said. But the federal government is not a small business and doesn't fit the definition as the Affordable Care Act requires, Johnson said.

    "Obama unilaterally changed the law," Johnson said. "That's not our constitutional system."

    Part of the challenge before Sen. Johnson and his co-plaintiff is to show that they've been harmed. Sen. Johnson argues that as an elected official, one of his most valuable assets is the public's trust, which is undermined when he gets special treatment under ObamaCare.

    But couldn't he just refuse the government benefit?  That's a question U.S. District Judge William Griesbach asked at the hearing. Johnson's lawyer replied that this would still require a positive step on the Senator's part and could still risk his credibility with his constituents. 

    You can watch a video interview of Johnson and read more here

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    Halbig Decision Due Any Day Now

    07/07/14

    By Hadley Heath Manning

    Supporters and dissenters are anxiously awaiting a decision this week from the D.C. Circuit Court in Halbig v. Burwell, one of the cases challenging the IRS's authority to offer subsidies through the federally-established ObamaCare exchanges. 

    The D.C. Circuit Court posts decisions here when they are ready.

    Stay tuned to HealthCareLawsuits.org later this week for more information on this ruling. 

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