Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller joined a coalition of states to sign a cert petition asking the Supreme Court to review the Affordable Care Act lawsuit immediately.
The petition requests that the Supreme Court take up the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision last month in Texas v. U.S. and resolve the case before the end of the court’s current term in June.
“For the last decade, the Affordable Care Act has become an integral part of our health care system,” Miller said. “The Fifth Circuit’s decision causes uncertainty that may harm the health of millions of Americans, as well as doctors, clinics, patients, and the healthcare market.”
The entire ACA saga began when Republicans in Congress changed the individual mandate to a $0 penalty.
A Texas district judge ruled that this meant the mandate was invalidated since it was a punishable offense without a punishment. This started a chain reaction that has led to the possibility that all or a large part of the entire ACA could be found unconstitutional, including the preexisting conditions coverage assurance.
The Fifth Circuit held that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but declined to further rule on the validity of the ACA’s other provisions. Instead, they sent the case back to the Northern District of Texas to determine which provisions of the 900-page law are still valid.
The political impact of that choice was that it delayed the possible final decision on the ACA until after the 2020 election.
The case has now become urgent, the signers argue, leading to this petition. The justices will still need to decide whether to take it up now.
By signing this petition, the case could see a review before the 2020 election, which would force it to be aired publicly, rather than letting Trump-led Republicans, who are backing the case to strike down the ACA, downplay their efforts until another election takes place.
It also would make it more likely that the current Supreme Court tries the broader ACA questions, rather than waiting until Trump may possibly get another appointee on the court. Chief Justice John Roberts ruled in favor of the ACA’s constitutionality back in 2012.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been leading a group of Democratic-led states in opposing Republicans’ attempts to undermine the ACA through the courts. Also signed on to the petition of writ is California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Governor Andy Beshar of Kentucky and The District of Columbia.
While Miller and Governor Kim Reynolds came to an agreement last year that he would not sign Iowa onto any multi-state legal cases without her permission, the governor’s office tells Starting Line the ACA case was already underway before that agreement.
In response to the cert petition, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:
“The Fifth Circuit has purposefully injected partisan politics into our health care system. The decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to first delay its ruling and then remand the case back to the same judge who has already declared the entire law unconstitutional is a blatant attempt to spare President Trump and Republicans from the political consequences of destroying our health care during an election year. The Supreme Court now has the responsibility to hear this case and get the politics out of our health care system and to end the uncertainty hanging over America’s health care. If President Trump and Republicans have their way, 20 million Americans will lose their insurance coverage, 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will be stripped of their protections, and costs will go up for millions. Without immediate action from the Supreme Court, the fate of their health care will cruelly and needlessly hang in the balance far too long.”
By Josh Cook