Even though the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in June, dozens of legal challenges to the law and its provisions -- such as the individual mandate and tax penalties -- are pending in federal courts nationwide and could require the high court to review the law once again, USA Today reports (Wolf, USA Today, 12/14).
Last month, the Supreme Court ordered a federal appeals court to rehear arguments by Liberty University in Virginia, which is challenging the ACA's employer coverage requirements and contraceptive coverage rules. A hearing at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could be held as early as next spring (California Healthline, 11/27).
Several of the other cases still pending in federal courts include:
- A lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative legal advocacy group in Arizona, that is challenging the constitutionality of the Independent Payment Advisory Board created under the ACA;
- A lawsuit by the state of Oklahoma, which argues that the federal government does not have the authority to penalize businesses for not offering coverage; and
- A challenge by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative advocacy group in California, arguing that the ACA was first passed in the Senate -- instead of in the House -- in violation of a constitutional clause.
White House spokesperson Nick Papas said that the ACA "is the law of the land" and that administration officials "remain 100% focused on implementing the law and are confident these remaining cases will be resolved in our favor" (USA Today, 12/14).
Implementation Challenges Remain
Meanwhile, the Obama administration and state officials are facing several challenges in implementing the ACA, particularly over issues dealing with a lack of public knowledge about the law, resistance from some states to roll out key parts the law and issuing guidance to help employers with coverage requirements, National Journal reports.
One of the issues facing federal and state officials is reaching eligible individuals and ensuring that they know about the ACA benefits available to them. A recent Enroll America survey found that 83% of those who will be eligible for Medicaid under the ACA are unaware they will qualify for the program and 78% of those eligible for tax credits under the law are not aware about their eligibility status.
Businesses facing new regulations on providing health coverage for employees, particularly those that traditionally rely on hourly-wage workers, also could face significant financial challenges, according to National Journal (Sanger-Katz, National Journal, 12/14).