In an unprecedented move a judge has allowed an action by the House of Representatives to go forward which attacks the rules by which subsidies are paid to insurers under the Affordable Care Act. There is an ideological movement so dedicated to denying the federal government the power to govern in a modern, national way. This movement - which has sometimes won majority support on the U.S. Supreme Court - construes the "necessary and proper" clause of the Constitution in a way that could cripple government. They came close in Sebelius v. NFIB where a majority construed the commerce clause so narrowly that only John Roberts embrace of the tax power saved the Affordable Care Act from history's dustbin.
At the root of it is hostility to government, an embrace of the narrow vision of power of the founders whose embrace of a national government was highly qualified. One result is our extremely inefficient national government which, in the majority view, does not have a general "police power" - the ability to enact nationwide measures to protect the general health and welfare. So extreme is their federalism that they have crippled the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder , and - in a shameful concession by Justice Breyer and Kagan in NFIB v. Sebelius - allowed states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, leaving millions of poor people without health insurance. - gwc
JURIST - Federal judge rules health care lawsuit can go forward
[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Wednesday ruled [text, PDF] that Republican members of the House of Representatives have standing to sue the Secretaries of the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Treasury regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Secretaries asked the court to dismiss the case, saying this is a political issue and that the Executive has the power to implement law. Judge Rosemary Collyer [official profile] addressed only the issue of whether the House can sue the Secretaries of the departments. Plaintiffs are claiming that the Secretaries have spent billions of dollars supporting the ACA violating, Article 1 of the Constitution, and that the Secretaries have amended parts of the ACA, narrowing its scope. The court ruled that the plaintiffs have standing to sue the departments for their constitutional claims regarding money spent, but do not have standing concerning the argument that the department heads amended the act.
Comprehensive health care reform [JURIST backgrounder] was passed by Congress in March 2010, and recent legal challenges have reinvigorated debate. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) [official website] reports that between 2010 and 2015, at least 21 states enacted laws attempting to challenge or completely opt out of mandatory provisions of the ACA. In June the Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] inKing v. Burwell [SCOTUSblog materials] that tax credits available to those who buy health insurance through state exchanges are also available to those who buy it through the federal exchange. Last year the court ruled[JURIST report] in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that closely held corporations can deny contraceptive coverage to their employees for religious reasons.