KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Federal Judge Hears Arguments On Health Law Subsidies

Millions of people in 34 states could be denied government subsidies to help them pay for insurance if the latest lawsuit brought by the opponents of the health law is successful. Meanwhile, Notre Dame joined the groups challenging the law's mandate that most large employers offer birth control coverage without a co-pay.

The Washington Post: Health-Care Law's Critics See Court Case Over Subsidies As Their Last Shot
Opponents of the health-care law took their latest legal challenge to a federal courtroom in the District on Tuesday in a case that many critics of the law view as their last and best chance to gut it before key provisions kick in Jan. 1. Though some legal scholars view the case as a long shot, it could have significant consequences if it is successful. Millions of people in 34 states could be denied the government subsidies established by the law to help low- and middle-income people pay their health-insurance premiums starting next year. Even those who think the case has no merit are closely watching it unfold (Somashekhar, 12/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Federal Judge Hears Arguments On Health-Law Subsidies
A federal judge in Washington offered few hints Tuesday of how he plans to rule during arguments in a case challenging the legality of federal subsidies available to some consumers who purchase health insurance through federally run online exchanges. At issue is the implementation of a key part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which requires most Americans to carry health insurance or pay a tax penalty. To make coverage more affordable, the law calls for the government to subsidize coverage for qualifying low- and middle-income individuals (Kendall, 12/3).

Fox News: ObamaCare Faces Another Challenge In Federal Court
The Affordable Care Act faced another legal challenge Tuesday in federal court, as a group of business owners and individuals pushed back against an IRS regulation they say is both unlawful and potentially crippling. The regulation, which stems from the ACA, defines which applicants are eligible for subsidies in connection with obtaining health care coverage. It's a significant distinction, because those subsidies trigger massive employer and individual obligations in the states where they are awarded (Bream, 12/4).

The Associated Press: Notre Dame Sues Over Birth Control Mandate
The University of Notre Dame on Tuesday filed another lawsuit opposing portions of the federal health care overhaul that forces it to provide health insurance for students and employees that includes birth control, saying it contravenes the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in South Bend claims the Affordable Health Care Act violates Notre Dame’s freedom to practice religion without government interference. Under the law, employers must provide insurance that covers a range of preventive care, free of charge, including contraception. The Catholic Church prohibits the use of contraceptives (Coyne, 12/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Notre Dame Suit Says Compromise On Birth-Control Rule Is Inadequate
Notre Dame says in its complaint, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, that the compromise offered by the administration still leaves the school complicit in something it considers immoral. The university says the health-care law has created a situation in which its sponsorship of an insurance plan is tantamount to condoning birth control and its acquisition. Notre Dame cited a recent advertising campaign aimed at young people that described contraception access as one of the key benefits to getting coverage (Radnofsky, 12/3).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Suits Mount As Notre Dame Joins Scrum Of Cases
Hours after the University of Notre Dame filed a religious challenge to the U.S. health-care overhaul in Indiana federal court, a judge in Washington heard arguments in a lawsuit assailing tax provisions of the statute.  The cases underscore the persistent and diverse nature of legal attacks on the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act even as the Obama administration struggles to fix bugs in, the online marketplace for health insurance created by the measure (Zajac and Harris, 12/4).

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