Health Law

Was health-care law introduced in wrong house? Are subsidies illegal? New challenges abound


A new wave of lawsuits challenging different aspects of the Obama administration’s health-care law could play out for years to come.

Some of the challenges are the result of years of work by conservative and libertarian groups, the New York Times reports. One suit will get an airing on Tuesday as a federal judge in Washington, D.C., considers arguments that the law does not allow tax credits or subsidies to those who buy insurance through federal exchanges. The challengers contend the law allows subsidies only to those who buy through state exchanges.

About three dozen states have refused to set up exchanges, the Times points out. “The subsidy cases, if successful, would strike at the foundation of the law,” the newspaper says. “Subsidies and tax credits, which could be available to millions of low- and middle-income Americans, are central to Mr. Obama’s promise of affordable care.”

In other cases:

• The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied cert in a challenge by Liberty University, which contends the employer insurance mandate can’t be upheld as a tax because the penalties are exorbitantly high and punitive. A different challenge to the law’s requirement for contraception coverage in employer-provided insurance is pending before the high court.

• A suit filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation asserts that the law is a revenue-raising measure that should have been introduced in the House, as required by the origination clause, rather than the Senate. The case, Sissel v. United States, is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, USA Today reported last week.

• A suit filed by the Goldwater Institute challenges the powers of an advisory board created by the law to control costs. The case is pending before the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to USA Today.

USA Today says the lawsuits are “long shots.” Most are pending in federal district courts, the story says, “which gives the government more time to implement the law and could make judges less likely to rule against it.”

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