Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Justices decline to hear case on Obamacare's employer mandate

This photo provided by HHS shows the main landing web page for HealthCare.gov. . (AP Photo/HHS)
This photo provided by HHS shows the main landing web page for HealthCare.gov. . (AP Photo/HHS)

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court will not reconsider the part of President Obama's health-care law that requires employers to provide basic health insurance for their workers or pay a tax penalty.

The justices on Monday dismissed an appeal brought by a conservative Christian college in Virginia that contended the "employer mandate" is unconstitutional.

Last year, the court in a 5-4 decision upheld the "individual mandate," deciding that people may be required to either obtain insurance or pay a tax penalty.

At the time, the court did not consider the law's parallel requirement that employers with more than 50 full-time employees must provide basic insurance.

Liberty University in Virginia had a pending challenge that argued the employer mandate was unconstitutional. In a brief order, the high court previously decided that challenge could be heard in the lower courts.

In July, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rejected the claim and said the federal government could regulate employers under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.

"We find that the employer mandate is no monster; rather it is simply another example of Congress's long-standing authority to regulate employee compensation offered and paid by employers in interstate commerce," said the appeals court based in Richmond, Va.

Liberty University appealed again to the Supreme Court, arguing that the justices should rule directly on the constitutionality of the employer mandate. On Monday, the court turned down the appeal without comment.

However, the justices are not finished with the Affordable Care Act. Last week, the court agreed to decide whether companies run by conservative Christian families can refuse to pay for the "full contraceptive" coverage required for employees.

Those cases are scheduled to be heard in the spring.

David G. Savage TRIBUNE WASHINGTON BUREAU
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