A Supreme Court case is getting most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) litigation attention this week, but other PPACA cases are out there.
Lawyers for the Obama administration and PPACA opponents will get to square off tomorrow at oral arguments on King vs. Burwell, a case hinging on a question about whether PPACA lets the public health insurance exchanges created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), rather than by state governments, offer PPACA premium tax credits.
Many of the other PPACA cases out there are difficult for ordinary mortals without access to full-text court filing databases to find. Many of the parties are angry about shortcomings with PPACA plans, exchanges, contract awards and regulatory arrangements may still be negotiating with the defendants in ad hoc meetings or arbitration proceedings, behind closed doors.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers are just learning about PPACA provisions that may give them the ability to file new types of lawsuits, such as PPACA-related whistleblower retaliation claims.
But we located some interesting state court cases with help from Wolters Kluwer Financial Services last fall.
We found an interesting selection of federal cases this week, by searching the federal court system. For a look at what we saw, keep reading.
1. Contraceptive benefits and abortion coverage challenges
For now, the obvious center of federal court PPACA litigation energy is a regulation that has only an indirect connection with PPACA: an HHS regulation that requires most employer health plans to include coverage for birth control in the basic preventive services package.
HHS is letting houses of worship and some other nonprofit religious employers notify HHS that they decline to offer birth control benefits coverage and let HHS take responsibility for arranging for the plan members to get those benefits.
Employers and their representatives have filed many cases arguing that HHS should make special arrangements for owners of for-profit companies who object to birth control, or certain types of birth control, and other cases that even requiring religious employers to help HHS provide birth control benefits for employees violates those employers’ freedom of conscience.
PPACA itself does not require that employers provide birth control benefits. The law does require all major medical plans to offer a basic preventive services package without imposing deductibles, co-payments or other cost-sharing charges on the enrollees, and Kathleen Sebelius, the previous HHS secretary, accepted a recommendation from the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) that she should put birth control benefits in the package.
Sylvia Mathwell Burwell inherited the role of defendant in birth control benefits suits when she became HHS secretary.
The U.S. Supreme Court already has ruled, in the Hobby Lobby decision, that HHS must make special arrangements for closely held companies with religious owners who object to birth control.