Tag Archives: healthcare reform

Employer Mandate: Headed to the Supreme Court?

supctThe past month has been chock full of developments on the employer mandate front, and there may be more to come. Last month, the federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the mandate, which requires larger employers to provide affordable healthcare coverage to full-time employees or pay a fine. (The opinion is Liberty University v. Jacob Lew et al.; there’s a nice explanatory piece about it over on SCOTUSBLOG.) The Fourth Circuit’s opinion upheld the employer mandate as a valid exercise of Congress’s powers to tax and to regulate interstate commerce.

Just a few days later, the Obama administration announced that it was postponing the employer mandate for a year, until the beginning of 2015.

Then yesterday, the Fourth Circuit issued a stay in the mandate case, to give Liberty University time to file a petition for certiorari asking the Supreme Court to hear the dispute. No tea leaves yet on whether the Court will agree to hear the case or how they will decide it if they take it up. Still, what a difference a month makes in the life of a new government program.

Supreme Court Wants to Hear More About Health Care Reform

Seems like only a few months ago that the Supreme Court narrowly upheld President Obama’s health care reform law. That decision, combined with the President’s reelection and Democratic gains in both the House and Senate, appeared to spell the end of the fighting over whether the law would go into effect. Although there are still plenty of disputes over how the law will be implemented, what the final regulations will say, and so on, the core question of the law’s validity seemed to be settled.

Until last week, when the Court once again entered the Obamacare fray. The Court had previously dismissed a lawsuit brought by Liberty University challenging the health care law, based on its holding last summer that the individual mandate to purchase insurance was constitutional. Liberty University asked the court to reconsider, and last week it did. The Court vacated its decision not to hear the case, granted Liberty’s petition for rehearing, and sent the case back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Once that Court issues a decision, the case could once more find its way back to the Supreme Court, as early as next year.

There are two issues in the Liberty case. The school is challenging the law’s employer mandate: the requirement that employers with more than 50 employees either provide health insurance for employees that meets certain financial and coverage requirements or pay a fine. The school is also challenging the law’s requirement that health care plans (whether purchased by an employer or an individual) must include contraceptive coverage, without a copay.

For more information on what the health care law requires, see Health Care Reform: What Employers and Employees Need to Know.