Update: ACA Still Under Threat By Groups Claiming “Religious Liberty”
As most of us are aware, the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been the focus of literally countless news stories in the two years since it was enacted.
The Affordable Care Act is the keystone of President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda, and it will (yet again) be challenged in a federal appeals court.
This time, it is Liberty University leading the charge. Founded in 1971 by religious right and Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell, Liberty University is a highly conservative Christian evangelical university.
The university filed suit in federal district court, challenging several portions of the law, notably the provision requiring companies comprised of 50 employees or more to offer health insurance plans.
While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act is constitutional this past June, that decision was primarily concerned with the individual mandate requiring individuals to purchase health insurance. The individual mandate was the most controversial portion of the Affordable Care Act, so the employer mandate was not the focus of those challenging the law’s constitutionality.
Liberty University joins nearly 100 other challengers challenging the Affordable Care Act. Some of the other challengers oppose the so-called “birth control mandate” – a provision requiring insurance companies to provide contraception in their health plans at no additional cost – which they say violates their religious freedom.
Another challenger to the Obamacare provisions is Hobby Lobby, a for-profit company whose mission statement emphasizes their accordance with “Biblical principles.”
Hobby Lobby filed suit against the birth control mandate in September, and the U.S. district court judge ruled that the store chain had not shown that providing contraceptive coverage would constitute a “substantial burden on their free exercise rights.”
If Hobby Lobby defies the mandate, they could be subject to fines – to the tune of $1.3 million. They have since appealed the district court’s ruling. It is still possible that the case could wind up in the Supreme Court, but most veteran court-watchers don’t believe that further challenges to the ACA will bear any good news for the health care law’s opponents.
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