HEALTH

Latest ‘Obamacare’ Court Battle Plays Out In New Orleans

Jul 9, 2019, 5:14 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:04 pm
FILE (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The fate of former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, and its coverage and insurance protections for millions of Americans, is again being argued before a panel of judges — this time a federal appeals court in New Orleans.

At issue in a hearing scheduled Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is whether Congress effectively rendered it unconstitutional in 2017 when it zeroed out the tax imposed on those who chose not to buy insurance. Texas-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor declared in December that it did. The law’s supporters appealed.

It’s unclear when the panel will rule in a case that appears destined for the Supreme Court, which has reviewed the law before. The ultimate outcome will affect protections for people with pre-existing conditions; Medicaid expansions covering roughly 12 million people; and subsidies that help about 10 million others afford health insurance.

Tuesday’s arguments are the latest in a lawsuit filed by Republican officials in 18 states, led by the Texas Attorney General’s Office. It was filed after Congress — which didn’t repeal the law, despite pressure from President Donald Trump — reduced to zero the unpopular tax imposed on those without insurance.

In challenging the law anew, “Obamacare” opponents noted the 2012 ruling of a divided Supreme Court that upheld the law. Conservative justices had rejected the argument that Congress could require everyone to buy insurance under the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause. But Chief Justice John Roberts, joining four liberal justices, said Congress did have the power to impose a tax on those without insurance.

With no tax penalty now in effect, the Texas lawsuit argues, the individual mandate is unconstitutional and the entire law must fall without it. O’Connor, the federal judge in Texas, agreed in a December ruling.

In addition to the 18 states, two individual taxpayers are part of the lawsuit. The Trump administration is not defending the law and has filed arguments in favor of O’Connor’s ruling.

California’s attorney general represents a coalition of mostly Democratic-led states and the District of Columbia seeking to overturn O’Connor’s ruling and uphold the law. The House of Representatives has joined them. Among the arguments by the law’s supporters: Those who filed suit have no case because they aren’t harmed by a penalty that doesn’t exist; the reduction of the tax penalty to zero could be read as a suspension of the tax, but the tax’s legal structure still exists; and that, even if the individual mandate is now unconstitutional, that does not affect the rest of the law known as the Affordable Care Act.

When the law was proposed, friends and foes of “Obamacare” agreed that the tax was essential to persuade healthy people to get insured, thereby keeping premiums in check. But this year — the first time no fines will be collected — the number of people signing up for subsidized private insurance through the Affordable Care Act slipped only slightly.

The government said in March that a total of 11.4 million people signed up during open enrollment season, a dip of about 300,000 from last year.

Scheduled to hear Tuesday’s arguments were 5th Circuit Judges Carolyn Dineen King, Jennifer Walker Elrod and Kurt Engelhardt. King was nominated to the appeals court by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Elrod was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2007. Engelhardt was nominated by President Donald Trump last year.

Democrats in the Senate said Monday that Republicans will pay a political price if the case results in the loss of popular “Obamacare.”

“If they are successful in striking down the Affordable Care Act, Republicans will own all of the consequences,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said on a call Monday with reporters.

___

Associated Press reporter Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington contributed to this story.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Health

Give A Thon...
Madison Swenson

How to donate to Primary Children’s Hospital during KSL’s Give-A-Thon

The annual KSL Give-A-Thon is Wednesday, Nov. 30 in partnership with Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital. Here's how you can donate.
3 days ago
Primary Children's Hospital announced Monday about 50 elective, prescheduled surgeries will be dela...
Cassidy Wixom, KSL.com and Debbie Worthen, KSL TV

‘Unprecedented surge’ of RSV patients causes more surgery delays at children’s hospital

Primary Children's Hospital announced Monday it will be delaying 50 elective, preplanned surgeries that require the patient to stay overnight due to capacity issues from high rates of RSV and other respiratory illnesses.
4 days ago
RSV and flu...
Deidre McPhillips, CNN

Flu season intensifies, holiday gatherings could make it worse

Americans gathered for Thanksgiving last week amid a flu season that's worse than any has been in more than a decade, and experts continue to urge caution as multiple respiratory viruses circulate at high levels nationwide.
4 days ago
Chickens, existing in their coup....
JOSH FUNK AP Business Writer

Bird flu prompts slaughter of 1.8M chickens in Nebraska

Nebraska agriculture officials say another 1.8 million chickens must be killed after bird flu was found on a farm. It's the latest sign that the outbreak has kept spreading after having already prompted the slaughter of more than 50 million birds nationwide. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture said Saturday that the state's 13th case of bird flu was found on an egg-laying farm in northeast Nebraska's Dixon County. All the chickens on the Nebraska farm are being killed to limit the spread of the disease. Officials say the virus presents little risk to human health because human cases are extremely rare and infected birds aren't allowed into the nation's food supply.
5 days ago
Joan DuQuette and Amanda DuQuette-Roberts...
Ayanna Likens

South Jordan family is thankful for organ donation this Thanksgiving

A local family said they have a lot to be thankful for this year after their family member received a lifesaving kidney transplant, but this transplant actually saved more than just one life.
9 days ago
Baby Revie Moala in pajamas and a beanie....
Ashley Moser

Idaho family says Primary Children’s Hospital nurse was crucial in getting baby to breathe

For weeks the Moala's, who live in Rigby, Idaho, fought for doctors to run tests on baby Revie. Finally she was referred to Primary Children’s Hospital, where Revie was diagnosed with blindness in her right eye.
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Latest ‘Obamacare’ Court Battle Plays Out In New Orleans