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Eighth Circuit affirms dismissal of health care law challenge

The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit [official website] on Thursday upheld the dismissal [opinion, PDF] of a challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder] due to the plaintiffs' lack of standing. Although Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder [official website] and six other citizens alleged that the PPACA violates provisions of both the US and Missouri constitutions, the Eighth Circuit emphasized that even a finding of proper standing would result in dismissing the case based on the US Supreme Court [official website] decision in National Federal of Independent Business v. Sebelius [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] in June. The court here, however, concluded that Kinder lacked standing "because he sued in his individual capacity, and he could not allege injury based on his performance of duties as an officer of the State of Missouri," thus negating the need to even discuss the Supreme Court decision. The Eighth Circuit's ruling affirms a decision [JURIST report] made in April 2011 by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri [official website] on the same grounds.

In July the US District Court for the District of Nebraska [official website] dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] filed by seven state attorneys general challenging the PPACA's health care mandates, particularly those that require all employer health care plans, including those of religious institutions, to cover contraception. In June the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling that declared the PPACA constitutional centered on the "individual mandate" provision [text] of the act, which requires every person, with some exceptions for religious and other reasons, to purchase some form of health insurance by January 1, 2014, or be subject to a fee equal to either a percent of that individual's income or flat rate of $695. In his opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts held that individual mandate is not a requirement that Americans buy insurance, since individuals who choose to pay the flat-rate fee are in full compliance with the law. The Court's decision resolved four consolidated cases accepted by the court [JURIST report] in November 2011.

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