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Health care law faces new challenge

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [text, PDF] on Wednesday in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin [official website] challenging the constitutionality of revisions to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder]. In July the US Department of Treasury (DOT) [official website] announced [JURIST report] that it would not implement the employer mandate requiring companies with more than 50 full-time employees to provide health coverage to its employees and to adhere to specific information reporting practices until 2015. The individual mandate, however, is still scheduled to be implemented as of January 1, 2014. The AAPS stated in its complaint, which seeks injunctive relief from these individual requirements, that "by requiring individuals to purchase health insurance without the protection of the Employer Mandate, Defendant compels many individuals to spend their own health care dollars on insurance premiums instead of as direct cash payments to physicians for medical care." Ultimately, plaintiffs argue that Congress intended the two requirements to take effect simultaneously and that the executive branch violated [press release] the separation of powers by allegedly "rewriting laws".

The AAPS lawsuit is the most recent of a number of challenges against various provisions of the PPACA. Last week, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), a Roman Catholic broadcasting network, filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the PPACA birth-control mandate. A week earlier a federal judge declined [JURIST report] to issue a preliminary injunction against the insurance subsidies provision of the PPACA. In the same week, Hobby Lobby filed a brief [JURIST report] urging the US Supreme Court to review its case regarding the constitutionality of the PPACA birth-control mandate. In July the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld [JURIST report] Congress' authority to require larger employers to provide adequate health insurance for their employees or pay a fine. In June 2012 the Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that the PPACA does not violate the constitution in a case that focused on the "individual mandate" provision 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. President Obama signed [JURIST report] the PPACA into law in March 2010.

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