Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Health Care Lawsuit Update

UPDATE V: "An appeals court on Tuesday upheld a lower court decision that had dismissed a challenge to President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law and found the minimum coverage requirement was constitutional." Read The New York Times, Appeals Court Backs Health Care Law.

That make it 3-1 for Obama Care in the appellate courts.

And remember you can check the status of any of the "26 federal lawsuits seeking to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" at the Kaiser Health News scoreboard.

UPDATE IV: From The New York Times, Court Blocks Suit Against Health Law:

"The Fourth Circuit confronted two opposing lower-court decisions. One, in a case filed by Virginia’s attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, had overturned the law’s insurance requirement. The other, in a case filed by Liberty University, a Christian college in Lynchburg, Va., upheld the same provision, which is considered central to the act.

In a unanimous opinion written by Judge Diana Gribbon Motz, the Fourth Circuit panel concluded that Mr. Cuccinelli did not have standing to sue because Virginia’s case relied on a state law intended to undermine the federal act. Unlike in the Liberty case, which included individual plaintiffs who might someday be directly affected by the mandate, Mr. Cuccinelli structured his complaint as a conflict between state and federal law.

The Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, enacted one day after Mr. Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, declares that no Virginia resident 'shall be required to obtain or maintain a policy of individual insurance coverage.'

But Judge Motz wrote that states cannot grant themselves standing to challenge federal laws simply by passing legislation that declares those laws invalid. A state, she wrote, does not 'acquire some special stake in the relationship between its citizens and the federal government merely by memorializing its litigation position in a statute.' Mr. Cuccinelli said Thursday that he would appeal to the Supreme Court.

In the Liberty case, Judge Motz wrote for a 2-to-1 majority in rejecting the appeal on entirely different grounds. In that case, she wrote that Liberty could not seek to strike down the individual mandate before it took effect because doing so would, in effect, usurp the government’s right to collect a tax.

That, she said, would run afoul of the long-established federal Anti-Injunction Act, which bars litigation seeking to restrain the assessment or collection of a tax.

The question of whether the law’s penalties constitute a tax has been considered in a number of the court challenges because the Constitution grants Congress broad authority to levy taxes to support the nation’s general welfare. On Thursday, the Fourth Circuit panel ruled that while the health care act refers frequently to penalties, the fines for noncompliance are in fact taxes.

The dismissal of the appeal on the tax question blocked the panel from fully considering the constitutionality of the individual mandate. But Judge Motz’s colleagues offered personal opinions.

Judge James A. Wynn Jr. wrote in a concurring opinion that he would have upheld the act based on Congress’s authority under its taxing powers. Judge Andre M. Davis, who dissented from the conclusion that the federal courts did not have jurisdiction, wrote that he would have upheld the mandate under Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce.

All three randomly selected judges on the panel were appointed by Democratic presidents, including two by Mr. Obama himself."

UPDATE III: "In a surprise move, a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court based in Virginia has tossed out one of the most prominent challenges to the health reform law.

This is the first appeals court to toss out a case for lack of standing after a lower court had ruled on the merits. It leaves the Affordable Care Act with an even scorecard in the courts, with one appeals court ruling in favor of health reform’s constitutionality and one against it."

Read the Washington Post, Appeals court tosses health reform challenge.

Or read the decisions and some of the other court documents.

That make it 2-1 for Obama Care in the appellate courts.


You may remember, more than two years ago, "I predict[ed] the most likely outcome in the district court is dismissal, with court declining to rule in the case because the matter in controversy is a political question."

The political question doctrine is related to the issue of standing.

UPDATE II: "A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court based in Atlanta on Friday ruled the health-care overhaul law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, in one of the largest legal challenges to the Obama administration’s signature achievement. . .

The appellate court, did, however, overturn part of the lower court’s ruling by declaring that the rest of the law could continue to stand without the individual mandate." Read the Washington Post, Health-care law individual mandate ruled unconstitutional by 11th Circuit appeals court.

Read all 304 pages of the court decision, or some of the other court documents in the Florida district court case.

And as for what might happen next, read the Washington Post, Three possible futures for health-care reform.

UPDATE: "In the first ruling by a federal appeals court on President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, a panel in Cincinnati affirmed Wednesday that Congress can require Americans to have minimum insurance coverage." Read the Washington Post, Federal appeals court in Cincinnati upholds Obama health care law, becoming 1st to rule.

And read The New York Times, Appeals Court Upholds Obama’s Health Care Law.

Better yet, read the court decision.

"Lawyers for the 26 states challenging the constitutionality of the nation’s new health-care law squared off against the Obama administration in an appeals court in Atlanta on Wednesday, where a panel of three judges asked tough questions of both sides." Read the Washington Post, Legal battle over Obama’s health-care law moves to Atlanta courtroom.

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