Benefits & Compensation News

Administration doesn’t ‘oppose’ new challenge to Obamacare

When it comes to healthcare reform, it looks like the Obama administration has no intention of challenging one organization’s renewed efforts to get Obamacare tossed out.

Virginia-based Liberty University is once again contesting the legality of the individual and employer mandates of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which the university claims exceeds Congress’s powers.

In addition, it claims the law violates the religious freedom provisions of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection portion of the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause.

Forcing the issue

The Supreme Court had first denied Liberty’s petition for a High Court review when it issued the landmark ruling — National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (NFIB) — upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare.

And the case was dismissed on technical grounds by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, when it ruled that the federal Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) prevents challenges to tax penalties before those penalties are actually imposed.

Therefore, because the pay-or-play provisions Liberty was challenging weren’t scheduled to go into effect until 2014, the case couldn’t be heard.

However, because the Supreme Court ruled in NFIB that the Anti-Injunction Act didn’t prevent it from considering the individual mandate of the reform law, Liberty is asking that it reconsider its petition and remand the Fourth Circuit’s decision to an appellate court.

In a statement about this request, U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., said: “under the circumstances of this case, respondents do not oppose further proceedings in the court of appeals to resolve them, including under the Anti-Injunction Act with respect to petitioners’ challenge to the employer responsibility provision.”

Obamacare tested again?

Should this case move forward, it could get interesting.

Reason: In its landmark ruling, the Supreme Court didn’t address the constitutionality of the employer mandate (or the merits of religious freedom and Equal Protection claims).

So if the High Court does remand this Liberty case to a lower court, Obamacare could be under fire once again.

We’ll keep you posted.



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