Cir­cuit court dis­misses two ACA law­suits for lack­ing stand­ing

Modern Healthcare - - Late News -

The 4th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in Rich­mond, Va., tossed out two law­suits chal­leng­ing the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act. Both rul­ings turned on a le­gal­is­tic point, find­ing that nei­ther en­tity that sued to strike down the re­form law was tech­ni­cally in­jured by it and, there­fore, lacked stand­ing to sue. The ap­peals court re­manded the cases back to the trial courts with or­ders to dis­miss for lack of sub­ject mat­ter ju­ris­dic­tion with­out con­sid­er­ing the sub­stance of the de­bate over the law’s con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity. The three-judge panel ruled that nei­ther Lib­erty Univer­sity, a Chris­tian school in Vir­ginia, nor the state of Vir­ginia had stand­ing to chal­lenge the law. State At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken­neth Cuc­cinelli ar­gued that the state was in­jured be­cause the re­form law con­flicted with a state law passed in re­sponse to the Af­ford­able Care Act to block any health in­sur­ance re­quire­ment on its cit­i­zens. The ap­peals court called the law a “smoke­screen” and ruled that the ACA’s man­date ap­plies only to in­di­vid­u­als, not states or busi­nesses. In the other opinion, the court ruled that an ex­ist­ing fed­eral law called the Anti-In­junc­tion Act pre­vents lit­i­gants from chal­leng­ing taxes be­fore the taxes have been paid. The court then ruled that the in­di­vid­ual man­date is a tax and that it does not take ef­fect un­til 2014, leav­ing the law­suit with­out grounds. The Vir­ginia rul­ings be­came the third and fourth ma­jor ap­peals de­ci­sions on the law. Last month, the 11th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in At­lanta de­clared the law’s in­sur­ance man­date un­con­sti­tu­tional. That fol­lowed the 6th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in Cincin­nati, which up­held the man­date’s con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity. The Cincin­nati de­ci­sion has al­ready been ap­pealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has not yet de­cided whether it will take up the case.

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