Obamacare Battle Still Being Fought in US Courtrooms

Sunday, 15 Sep 2013 12:35 PM

By John Morgan

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The Supreme Court has ruled: Obamacare is the law of the land, and opponents should get over it. But what if that conventional wisdom is wrong?

Forbes reported there is still a chance the courts may overturn the entire law or at least cancel out enough of its provisions to require fresh Congressional action.

Forbes contributor Chris Conover, a policy analyst at Duke University’s Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research, said about 100 lawsuits have been filed against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), dozens are pending, and several have the “potential to significantly disrupt implementation of the law.”

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In Sissel v. United States Department of Health & Human Services, the nonprofit Pacific
Legal Foundation claims the tax represented by Obamacare’s enforcement provisions is illegal because it was introduced in the Senate rather than the House, as required by the Constitution.

A ruling in favor of Pacific Legal Foundation in that case would invalidate the entire law, Conover said. That lawsuit is now pending in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Pruitt v. Sebelius, which was brought by the state attorney general of Oklahoma and is pending in U.S. District Court there, the plaintiffs argue the Internal Revenue Service does not have the legal authority to extend tax credits and subsidies for the purchase of health insurance in federal exchanges.

If the courts rule against Obamacare in that case, an American Enterprise Institute health policy expert said, it would “cripple the federal exchange operations in Oklahoma, and encourage dozens of other states to mount similar challenges and continue to refuse to authorize their own state-administered exchanges.”

In Liberty University v Lew, Liberty University, a Christian college in Lynchburg, Va., argues that Obamacare’s employer mandate, which forces larger companies to provide health insurance coverage to worker or face fines, exceeds Congress’ rights under the Constitution and violates Liberty’s religious beliefs that are protected by the First Amendment.

The Liberty case, which Conover said could invalidate the ACA’s employer mandate, is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York v. Sebelius, the Catholic Church argues that the contraception mandate in Obamacare is unconstitutional of because its violates First Amendment guarantee on freedom of religion. That case may also reach the Supreme Court, according to the Forbes column.

“None of the cases… is going to be resolved soon enough to get Congress off the hook from its looming contentious debate over defunding the ACA,” Conover predicted. But he said the fact the cases are still pending is an argument for delaying Obamacare for at least another year.

Fox News reported President Barack Obama planned to meet face-to-face with national labor leaders Friday to try to ease their opposition to Obamacare, while Republicans warned the White House may try to give a “sweetheart deal” to union members in the form of extra health care subsidies.

The AFL-CIO is worried about the cost and accessibility of health insurance under Obamacare, and frets that workers' hours may be cut as an unintended result of the law, Fox News said.

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