Health Law & Business News

16 Attorneys General Push Speedy Appeal of Obamacare Ruling

Dec. 17, 2018, 6:28 PM

A group of 16 attorneys general will be pushing for a speedy appeal of a Texas federal court ruling that invalidated Obamacare.

Head law enforcement officials from 15 states and the District of Columbia will file a motion, as early as the afternoon of Dec. 17, in a Texas federal district court to kick-start the appeals process of a ruling that has sent reverberations across the American health-care industry.

The goal is to have the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals quickly reconsider a Dec. 14 ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas that held former President Barack Obama’s landmark health industry regulation was invalid. The court said the law was doomed because Congress eliminated the tax penalty for those who don’t buy health insurance, known as the individual mandate.

The attorneys general are moving to swiftly intervene because they are concerned about confusion in the health-care industry between now and a final resolution of the case, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said at a Dec. 17 press conference in Frankfort.

In Kentucky alone about 500,000 people are Medicaid expansion beneficiaries under the ACA, and nearly half of the population has some form of pre-existing health condition. Without Obamacare, he said, their health insurance could get pricier or vanish.

“We need to get this decision to an appellate court as soon as possible,” Beshear said. “The ruling would devastate Kentucky.”

It Ain’t Over

The lower court’s decision only dealt with some of Texas’ challenges to the law, leaving some challenges pending with the court. Thus, it didn’t provide language that would allow parties to immediately appeal the ruling, Beshear said. Generally, a court must state its order is “final” before parties can get review from an appellate court.

Beshear didn’t provide specifics about the attorneys general litigation plans, but said action would come this week and as early as the afternoon of Dec. 17.

The group of top cops includes the attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The case is: Texas v. U.S., N.D. Tex., No. 4:18-cv-00167, parties could move to speed appeal 12/17/18

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ebert in Columbus, Ohio at aebert@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com

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