Published on December 20, 2019
December 6, 2019
On Wednesday, a federal appeals court dealt a blow to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by striking down its individual mandate provision and ruling it unconstitutional. The mandate, which requires people to purchase and maintain health insurance, was challenged by several GOP state attorneys general after Congress removed the tax penalty earlier this year for those who did not have coverage. They argued that since there was no longer an enforcement mechanism without the tax, the rest of the law should also be unconstitutional.
Judge Jennifer Walker, one of the two judges supporting the ruling, said, “the individual mandate is unconstitutional because it can no longer be read as a tax, and there is no other constitutional provision that justifies this exercise of congressional power.”
In contrast, Judge Carolyn Dineen King, the only dissenting vote said sending the ruling back to the lower court “will unnecessarily prolong this litigation and the concomitant uncertainty over the future of the healthcare sector.”
While the appeals court did agree that the mandate was unconstitutional, it sent the case back to the lower district court to use a “finer-toothed comb” to determine which parts (if any) of the law could remain standing on their own.
Given the new developments, it is unlikely the case will be settled before the election next year. Also, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is leading the defense of the ACA, has said he plans to appeal the decision and ask the Supreme Court to review the case.
“It’s time to get rid of the uncertainty,” Becerra said. “Americans don’t need to be jerked around when it comes to their health care.”
This is a developing story. We will provide updates as they become available.
Congress appears to be poised to avoid a government shutdown tomorrow after a spending package was approved by both chambers. The House voted Tuesday to approve both bills, while the Senate voted to approve both bills on Thursday. President Trump signaled he will sign both.
The $1.4 trillion package will fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. The first bill covers labor, health and human services, and education; agriculture; state and foreign operations; military construction and veterans affairs; transportation and housing and urban development; energy and water; interior and environment; and the legislative branch. The second covers homeland security; defense; commerce, science and justice; and financial services and general government.
The package also included an amendment raising the smoking age to 21. While this is a step in the right direction, it does not do anything to prevent the concerns around flavored e-cigarettes. The youth vaping epidemic is still in full force after the President backed away from his proposed ban on all flavored e-cigarettes. The evidence overwhelmingly shows these products are the biggest factor in why teens and young adults begin smoking. Without swift action from Congress or the President, the epidemic will worsen every day.
Make your voice heard, and urge Congress to support our youth and protect them from harmful products!
From all of us at the Prevent Cancer Foundation, we wish you a happy holiday season. We cannot do our work without your collective voice. We cannot thank you enough, and we look forward to working together next year to help Stop Cancer Before It Starts!®