Thursday, October 4, 2012

Eighth Circuit Rejects ACA Challenge for Lack of Standing

The Eighth Circuit ruled in Kinder v. Geithner that a private individual and Missouri's Lieutenant Governor (acting in his personal capacity) lacked standing to challenge the universal coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act.

The Supreme Court, of course, settled the issue last summer.  But that didn't stop the plaintiffs here (who filed before the Court ruled)--even if they couldn't identify the relief they sought (after the Court ruled).  The Eighth Circuit side-stepped these problems, though, and ruled instead that the plaintiffs lacked standing.  The ruling means that the case is dismissed.

One plaintiff, Samantha Hill, wrote in her complaint that the ACA forced her to purchase a health plan that she didn't want.  In particular, Hill claimed that she wanted to buy only a high-deductible, "catastrophic" health plan, but that the ACA allowed a person to buy such a plan only if that person were under 30 years old and certified that his or her premiums amounted to more than eight percent of his or her household income. 

The court ruled that Hill misread the statute.  The ACA allows a person under 30 or a person whose premiums amount to more than eight percent of household income to purchase a catastrophic plan.  Hill was under 30, and the Act therefore allowed her to buy a catastrophic plan.  No injury.

(The court rejected Hill's several creative readings of her own complaint to get around this result.  In the end, it seems, one of two things happened: somebody mis-read an "and" for an "or" in the ACA; or somebody wrote a pretty sloppy complaint.)

The court rejected LG Morris's claim, because he never said he'd be affected by the universal coverage requirement: he's already insured.  No injury.

If the case weren't dismissed for lack of standing, it obviously would have been dismissed on the merits, after the Court's ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius.

SDS

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