On Wednesday the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, a landmark case challenging the Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act.
It is common knowledge that the Catholic Church has taught the immorality of abortion and contraceptive use for millennia. Yet the regulations in question force our institutions to pay for insurance that covers abortifacients like Ella and Plan B, plus prescription contraceptives and surgical sterilizations.
The United States was founded on the concept of religious freedom. The First Amendment says clearly that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The case considers Obamacare’s rule requiring nonprofit employers to provide contraception coverage as part of insurance plans. Rev. David Zubik, the Catholic bishop for Pittsburgh, is leading the charge in the case, which consolidated the complaints of objecting Christian universities and groups like Little Sisters of the Poor.
The Supreme Court on March 23 will weigh how far the government has to go to accommodate religiously affiliated employers that object to including contraception in workers’ insurance plans. The issues has been brewing since shortly after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010.
House v. Burwell is far from resolution, but this case’s path through the federal courts and the threat it could pose to the Affordable Care Act show continued vulnerabilities of the health-care law as well as the stakes of the 2016 election.
A Commonwealth Fund report published Thursday looks at a provision in the health-care law that is at issue in the case. To soften the impact of out-of-pocket costs under Obamacare, the law requires insurers to reduce certain payments for individuals whose incomes are up to 250% of the federal poverty level if they purchase a “silver” plan through one of the insurance marketplaces. The law also says that insurers are to be repaid for the discounts.
A four-year-old fight between the Catholic Church and the Obama administration reaches the Supreme Court on Wednesday, in a bishop’s challenge to the health-care law’s contraception requirements that could alter the boundaries of religious freedom.
Eight justices will weigh how far the government has to go to accommodate religiously affiliated employers that object to including contraception in workers’ insurance plans. The outcome could affect as many as a million Catholic nonprofit employees. The case comes after the court’s 2014 Hobby Lobby ruling that for-profit businesses could assert such objections.
The Federal government wants to leave doctors and hospitals on the hook for medical bills unpaid by the failed ObamaCare co-ops.
A top official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told Congress that the government, not medical providers, has the first right to any remaining co-op funds. This CMS policy ignores a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision that says the federal government is next to last in line for payment in insurance cases, and policyholders should come first.
Twelve of the 24 co-ops funded through the ACA have failed and are going through the liquidation process. At least 800,000 people have had to find other coverage after their co-op policies were cancelled.
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The recent lawsuit filed by the Health Republic Insurance Company of Oregon regarding ObamaCare’s “risk corridor” program raises the question: Does the federal government have a duty to defend the lawsuit? Could they confess that the plaintiffs are right, or, better still, settle the case for the face value? Nicholas Bagley of the University Of Michigan School Of Law does not think the feds will do that while they can still argue that the claims are unripe. But if the case gets past the initial procedural hurdles, they’ll be sorely tempted to cut a deal.
Six states filed a new lawsuit Wednesday against the Obama administration over the Affordable Care Act.
The complaint that Texas, Wisconsin, Kansas, Louisiana, Indiana and Nebraska filed in the Northern District of Texas takes issue with the Health Insurance Providers Fee assessed to health insurers to cover federal subsidies.
The lawsuit says nothing in the Affordable Care Act’s language provided clear notice that states would also have to pay the fee.
“This notice was not even provided by rule but was ultimately provided by a private entity wielding legislative authority,” the suit says.
There’s not much more time to speculate about how the Supreme Court will handle health care-related cases without the late Justice Antonin Scalia. A number of them are fast approaching on the court’s calendar, including one scheduled for arguments Tuesday.
Legal experts say they expect the court will go ahead and hear those cases and others despite the conservative justice’s unexpected death late last week.
The case set to be argued Feb. 23 involves the penalties companies face for patent infringement and could have a significant impact on the medical device industry. And in two weeks, the court is scheduled to hear a major case over whether Texas has gone too far in regulating abortions.
Scalia exposed that in King v Burwell, the Court elevated politics over both the rule of law and the separation of powers.
In King, a six-justice majority of the Supreme Court acknowledged the operative statutory text authorizes those taxes and subsidies only in states that establish an Exchange. But because the majority determined ObamaCare would collapse without them, it ruled the IRS could continue to implement those taxes and subsidies. Scalia’s dissent exposed that, rather than give effect to Congress’ intent, the majority simply substituted its own policy preferences for those of the legislature.