Overview of Litigation Filed to Stop Health Reform

Executive Summary

Overview of litigation filed against ACA (June 2010)

An important element of health care reform is the requirement that most individuals have minimum health insurance or pay a penalty. Elected officials and private citizens from a number of states are arguing that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) is unconstitutional because of this so-called ?individual mandate.?2
 
This requirement is critical because, without it, healthy people can go without insurance coverage until they need it. If healthy people are able to neglect coverage in this way, implementation of the health care reform law would be seriously threatened. Insurance markets would struggle to adhere to provisions contained in the law that, for example, require insurers to charge premiums without differentiation based on health status and to provide coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions and without annual or life-time limits on coverage. Compare Charles Fried, Health care law?s enemies have no ally in Constitution, BOSTON GLOBE, May 21, 2010 (?Insurance just won?t work if you could wait until your house is on fire to buy it.?). 
 
Overview of the cases 
 
Minutes after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010, attorneys general from Florida and other states challenged the constitutionality of the law in federal court. Later that day, Virginia?s Attorney General also filed suit. Since then, at least six other cases have been filed. The actions are summarized below: 
 
1. Florida et al v. Sebelius et al., No. 3:10-cv-00091 (N.D. Fla.). This case was filed on March 23d, by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and attorneys general from 12 states. Amended on May 14th, the complaint now includes attorneys? general and governors from 20 states: South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington, Idaho, South Dakota, Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and Alaska. The National Federation of Independent Businesses and two individuals also joined. The amended complaint raises a number of constitutional challenges to the individual mandate and to the Affordable Care Act?s requirement that states participating in the Medicaid program expand coverage to individuals with incomes below 133% of the poverty line. 
 
At a scheduling conference held on April 14th, the U.S. Department of Justice stated its intent to file a motion to dismiss the case. The attorneys general announced their plan to file a motion for summary judgment. Federal District Judge Vinson, who is hearing the case, said he will decide the motion to dismiss first, with oral argument set for September 14, 2010. 
 
Judge Vinson also noted that he has received a number of requests to intervene in the case, many of them from pro se applicants. He denied a motion to intervene filed by Dr. Orly Taitz, an attorney and dentist. In his Order, Judge Vinson noted that the parties ?indeed, the citizens of this country, have an interest in having this case resolved as soon as practically possible ? [a] task ? made exponentially more difficult if all those who have an opinion and an interest in the outcome of the case were allowed to intervene and to join in these proceedings.? Order at 4-5 (Apr. 8, 2010). The court refused to focus on collateral issues, such as Dr. Taitz?s allegation that President Obama was born in Kenya and, thus, unable to be the President. Id. In a subsequent order, Judge Vinson denied Dr. Taitz?s motion for reconsideration, as well as the motions of four other individuals to intervene (on both sides of the issue). Order on Motions to Intervene (Apr. 23, 2010). The April 23rd Order also states that additional intervention requests will be summarily denied unless they satisfy the legal standard for intervention. Id
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