New Legal Blitz Unleashed Against Obamacare

Tuesday, 03 Dec 2013 07:24 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Conservatives have launched a fresh set of legal assaults to challenge implementation of the Affordable Care Act, arguing that President Barack Obama has disregarded the Constitution in applying the law.

While the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare in June 2012, law professor Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve University forecasts that the law will remain the subject of years of litigation, The New York Times reports.

"Among critics of the law, there is a feeling that the law doesn't have the same legitimacy as a law that passed with bipartisan support," Adler told the Times.

One case before a federal court argues that the Internal Revenue Service lacks the authority to grant tax credits or subsidies to people who purchase insurance through the federal exchange.

Congress specified financial help for those enrolled "through an exchange established by the state." Because of GOP opposition, most states do not have their own exchanges.

Obamacare hinges on the ability of individuals to receive subsidies.

Administration supporters argue that by agreeing to a federal exchange, Congress implicitly intended that tax credits be extended to those signing up through HealthCare.gov.

Another court challenge, spearheaded by the Pacific Legal Foundation, will argue that law is unconstitutional because it originated in the Senate, not the House, where revenue bills must be introduced.

Religious groups are challenging a provision that exempts churches, but not nonprofits such as universities, from providing birth-control coverage as part of their employer health-insurance plans.

A further legal challenge comes from within Congress. The House Judiciary Committee is to hold hearings on whether Obama was "rewriting his own law" by using his executive powers to modify or delay some of its provisions.

Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is to testify Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health.

She is expected to be grilled about continuing problems with HealthCare.gov, and concerns over how well sensitive personal information is protected, according to a committee statement.

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