Both Sides In Health Law Legal Clashes Seek Fast Action

Kaiser Health News
Kaiser Health News
October 3, 2011

News outlets examine the latest developments related to the challenges to the health law and handicap some of the possible outcomes.

The New York Times: Some Common Ground For Legal Adversaries On Health Care
The 2010 health care overhaul law has provoked an unprecedented clash between the federal government and 26 states, dividing them on fundamental questions about the very structure of the federal system. But the two sides share a surprising amount of common ground, too, starting with their agreement in briefs, filed on Wednesday, that the Supreme Court should resolve the clash in its current term (Liptak, 9/29).

ABC: Risk, Reward In Obama Health Care Law Appeal To Supreme Court
The Obama administration's pursuit of an expedited U.S. Supreme Court review of its health care law is a roll of the political dice with enormous implications for the president and the 2012 campaign. While the signature issue of Obama's presidency has already figured prominently in rhetoric on both sides, an expected ruling on its constitutionality by June guarantees a dramatic pre-election debate in which Obama may have the most to gain. A victory for the Affordable Care Act in a high court dominated by conservatives could tame the most fiery criticism from the right, undermining charges popularized by the Tea Party that the administration usurped its constitutional authority. A ruling against it, while a setback to the law itself, could serve to embolden the argument Obama has already been making that Republicans across all branches of government have become obstructionists without solutions (Dwyer, 9/29).

Politico Pro: How SCOTUS Could Kick The Can On The ACA
While the Supreme Court appears likely to hear the case against President Barack Obama's health reform in this term, that doesn't mean the court will actually decide soon whether it is constitutional. ... When the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to hear a lawsuit filed by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business, it also suggested the court look at whether a federal tax law could prevent a ruling until well after 2014. The tax law, called the Anti-Injunction Act, requires Americans to pay a tax before they can challenge it in court. That could be a factor in the centerpiece of the legal challenge — the individual mandate — since people who don't get coverage will have to pay a tax penalty. But the mandate doesn't go into effect until 2014, and people who get fined wouldn't have to pay it until 2015. While several lower courts have ruled on the health law, few have paid much attention to whether that tax law applies to the issue. But that changed earlier this month when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rule on two similar health reform cases, arguing that the Anti-Injunction Act prevents it from doing so. And last week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals spent a lot time discussing the issue during oral arguments in another challenge to the health law (Haberkorn, 9/30).

NPR's Talk of the Nation: Supreme Court Preview: Health Care, Immigration And Privacy
David Savage, Supreme Court reporter for the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, and former U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal previewed the session ... "The Supreme Court's almost certainly got to intervene," says Savage. And the Justice Department, he says, is confident they'll win. ... The best argument against it, Katyal says, is that this would be the first time Congress has ever forced people to engage in purchasing (Handel, 9/29).

Stateline: Challenges To Federal Health Law Escalate
The legal battle over the federal health overhaul has not been tidy. ... Here's a quick look at appeals court rulings so far. In every case, plaintiffs charged the law's "individual mandate," which penalizes those who fail to sign up for health insurance, is unconstitutional. Some cases also charged the law's expansion of Medicaid places an unfair financial burden on states (Vestal, 9/30).

This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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