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President Barack Obama’s nominee for the United States Supreme Court has a history in health care-related cases, Modern Healthcare reports.
Obama nominated Merrick Garland, chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, on Wednesday, March 16.
A number of cases currently or recently before the Supreme Court have passed through Garland’s court in one form or another.
Among them is Zubik v. Burwell, more commonly known as the “Little Sisters” case, Modern Healthcare states:
“A majority of judges on that court recently denied a petition for rehearing in a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court over the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. In that case, a three-judge panel of the court, that did not include Garland, ruled against religious not-for-profits’ assertion that they shouldn’t have to take any action to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers provide birth control coverage to employees. The religious not-for-profit Priests for Life then asked the court to re-hear the matter before a full panel of judges, but a majority of the judges turned down their request.”
Health Care News (HCN) will cover the oral arguments for Zubik v. Burwell, scheduled to begin Wednesday, March 23. Multiple legal scholars have told HCN the petitioners in Little Sisters would likely receive a favorable ruling were Scalia still on the Court.
Garland has a connection to a more famous health care case, King v. Burwell, a landmark victory for Obama and the Affordable Care Act, Modern Healthcare states:
“Garland was also head of the court when a majority of its judges decided in September 2014 to re-hear Halbig v. Burwell, a case in which a three-judge panel of the court initially ruled that insurance premium tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act should not be offered to Americans in states without their own exchanges. The court never actually re-heard the case, however, instead deferring to the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell last year. In King v. Burwell, the nation’s high court upheld the premium subsidies for Americans in all states.”
In his dissent in King v. Burwell, Scalia wrote, “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”
I discussed the far-reaching impact of King v. Burwell, and read from Scalia’s dissent, in this week’s podcast with Sally Pipes, executive director the Pacific Research Institute, who covers the case in the beginning of her new (and mercifully short) paperback The Way Out of Obamacare (Encounter Books, 2016).
Not all health care-related cases Garland has taken have gone all the way to the Supreme Court, Modern Healthcare reports:
“Garland was also part of a three-judge panel that partially sided with hospitals in a case over Medicare outlier payments. In that case, 186 hospitals alleged that Medicare underpaid them by more than $3 billion in outlier payments. Outlier payments are extra payments made to hospitals when the estimated cost of treating a patient exceeds the standard Medicare payment.”
For health care policy free and clear, visit news.heartland.org/health.