Affordable Care Act Survives (Again!) At Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)
The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)
The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)

For the third time now, the Affordable Care Act has survived a legal challenge at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Despite relentless attacks from Republicans and previous cases in 2012 and 2015, the law has only gained in popularity with Americans.

Today’s ruling didn’t address the central question of whether the law could stand without the individual mandate which was removed from the law in 2017. Instead, the high court sidestepped the issue ruling the plaintiffs had no standing to bring the case.

From the New York Times:

The margin of victory was wider than in the earlier cases, with six members of the court joining Justice Stephen G. Breyer’s modest and technical majority opinion, one that said only that the 18 Republican-led states and two individuals who brought the case had not suffered the sort of direct injury that gave them standing to sue.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who had cast the decisive vote to save the law in 2012, was in the majority. So was Justice Clarence Thomas, who had dissented in the earlier decisions.

“Whatever the act’s dubious history in this court,” Justice Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion, “we must assess the current suit on its own terms. And, here, there is a fundamental problem with the arguments advanced by the plaintiffs in attacking the act — they have not identified any unlawful action that has injured them. Today’s result is thus not the consequence of the court once again rescuing the act, but rather of us adjudicating the particular claims the plaintiffs chose to bring.”

Striking down the Affordable Care Act would have added nearly 21 million people to the list of uninsured in the country. Among those are folks who are now eligible for Medicaid, young adults who can stay on their parents’ plans until 26, and Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Supreme Court Appears Inclined To Uphold Obamacare After Oral Arguments

(stock image via Depositphotos)

Several news outlets report that at least 5 Supreme Court justices appear to lean against striking down the Affordable Care Act after oral arguments today in a case brought by the Trump administration.

From the New York Times:

It was not clear whether the court would strike down the so-called individual mandate, which was rendered toothless in 2017 after Congress zeroed out the penalty for failing to obtain insurance. But the bulk of the sprawling 2010 health care law, which is President Barack Obama’s defining domestic legacy, appeared likely to survive its latest encounter with the Supreme Court.

In legal terms, the key justices said the mandate could be severed from the rest of the law.

“It does seem fairly clear that the proper remedy would be to sever the mandate provision and leave the rest of the act in place — the provisions regarding pre-existing conditions and the rest,” said Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made a similar point. “Congress left the rest of the law intact when it lowered the penalty to zero,” he said.

The three justices who make up the court’s more liberal wing – Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan – all seem inclined to uphold the ACA.

According to a study by the Urban Institute, more than 21 million Americans would become uninsured if the law were to be struck down.

A ruling in the case is expected by next spring.

Podcast: UNSAD Podcast, Ohio Teacher Fired For Having Husband, Ryan Murphy’s ‘Hollywood’

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

In this week’s podcast:

• A former police officer will receive a settlement after being denied a job because he is HIV positive

• Ohio teacher fired for having a husband

• Small steps forward for LGBTQ rights in Morocco

• The Trump administration is close to removing important anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQs from the Affordable Care Act

• Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix series Hollywood is a progressive, pro-LGBTQ reimagining of post-World War II Tinseltown

• New ‘good news’ podcast to help you sleep at night – UNSAD Podcast www.unsadpodcast.com

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report podcast

News Round-Up: December 23, 2019

Alex Abramov (image via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Alex Abramov (above) offers this quickie #instagay take on getting ready for the holidays: remove shirt, add Russian fur hat and lights, shoot.

OUT: The mother of a child who committed suicide due to excessive bullying has sued the school on the basis of neglect and creating a hostile environment for LGBTQ students.

Instinct: The streaming giant teased its upcoming true crime documentary based on the real-life story of bisexual pro football player turned murderer, Aaron Hernandez.

• Christianity Today: The president of the evangelical magazine supported his editor in chief’s recent op-ed calling for the removal of Donald Trump. “The global Body of Christ — and the community of evangelicals — is vastly larger than our domestic political squabbles. But partly on behalf of that global body, we can no longer stay silent. We write for a readership of One. God is our Tower. Let the whirlwind come.”

The Verge: Theaters are receiving a new version of Cats with “some improved visual effects,” just days after it premiered to dismal reviews. Last-minute tweaks apparently left room for mistakes like Judy Dench’s human hand slipping through unnoticed.

• AP News: After Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused Mayor Pete Buttigieg of holding fundraising events in “wine caves” serving $900 bottles of wine, the owners of the venue that hosted the event pushed back. They say wine caves are common at wineries in Napa Valley because they’re good for storing wine at cool temperatures.; no $900 bottle of wine were served; and no one attended thinking they would become besties with Mayor Pete.

Advocate: Schitt’s Creek creator and star Dan Levy called out UK television channel 4Music for editing out same-sex moments from the series.

Will & Grace: Sean Hayes tweets a photo of the fab four taking a final bow as the last episode of Will & Grace was shot, and the unexpected revival of the hit sitcom comes to a close.

Trump Administration Announces Suspension In Payments To Healthcare Insurers

The Trump administration takes another swipe at the Affordable Care Act by suspending payments to insurers required under the healthcare law.
Donald Trump

The Trump administration takes another swipe at the Affordable Care Act by suspending payments to insurers required under the healthcare law.

From The Washington Post:

In a rare Saturday afternoon announcement, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it will stop collecting and paying out money under the ACA’s “risk adjustment” program, drawing swift protest from the health insurance industry.

Risk adjustment is one of three methods built into the 2010 health-care law to help insulate insurance companies from the ACA requirement that they accept all customers for the first time — healthy and sick — without charging more to those who need substantial care.

In its announcement, CMS said that it is not going to make $10.4 billion in payments that are due to insurers in the fall for expenses incurred by insurers last year.

This is the latest step the Trump administration has taken in its attempts to dismantle the healthcare law via executive powers.

In 2017, the sign-up period for Americans to buy ACA health plans was cut in half by healthcare officials.

Also, the advertising campaign for the signup period was cut by 90 percent.

Last October, the president ended cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, which helps balance the law’s requirement to provide discounts on deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs to low-income customers.

Enrollment For Affordable Care Act Begins Today

Today begins the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act.

If you don’t get health insurance through your work, Medicare, Medicaid or some other means, you have until December 15 to enroll.

From the Human Rights Campaign:

Despite reckless efforts by Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and some congressional Republicans, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land. Millions of Americans will continue to have access to quality health insurance and cannot be denied if they have a preexisting medical condition such as cancer, HIV, or high blood pressure.

If you currently have coverage through one of the ACA marketplaces, you have the opportunity to renew or choose a new one during the open enrollment period. Some Americans aren’t sure if they can enroll, but many are eligible for the affordable options it makes available. Financial assistance may also be available, depending on your income level. All the details can be found at Healthcare.gov.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration has limited the enrollment period and cut funding for outreach to individuals who may need health insurance. Many LGBTQ people rely on the Affordable Care Act for life-saving care, and HRC is ensuring that you know the facts about open enrollment and how to #GetCovered.

Again, the deadline for enrollment through HealthCare.gov is December 15.