Professor John Cogan: Congress Has Already Set Future of ACA

Professor John Cogan: Congress Has Already Set Future of ACA
November 10, 2020

Law professor John Aloysius Cogan Jr. is a health insurance expert and Roger S. Baldwin Scholar at the UConn School of Law, who focuses his research and teaching on health care organizations and finance, health law and policy, federal health programs, health care fraud and abuse, and health insurance law. He has written scholarly articles on a wide range of health insurance topics, including the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, otherwise known as HIPAA. Today the Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments in California v. Texas. The plaintiffs in the case are asking the Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In a new article to be published in the Boston College Law Review later this month, Cogan argues that the Affordable Care Act should remain intact because two statutes passed by Congress earlier this year, the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, demonstrate that Congress wants to keep the ACA intact. The two statutes use the ACA to provide coronavirus-related health care relief to millions of Americans. He discussed his article with UConn Today.

In California v. Texas, the Supreme Court will focus on whether Congress intends the Affordable Care Act to continue. Your paper in the Boston College Law Review says this issue was settled by Congress earlier this year. What are the grounds for this filing and how did you stake out your position after evaluating it?

To understand this lawsuit you have to go back to 2012 and the first Affordable Care Act case that went before the Supreme Court, which was called NIFB v. Sebelius. In that case, the plaintiffs argued that the individual mandate -- the requirement that you had to buy health insurance -- was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court found the mandate constitutional under the Congress's constitutional taxing power because the mandate included a penalty. Americans who didn't buy the insurance had to pay a penalty. Since the penalty would generate revenue for the government, the Court said it was like a tax. Therefore, it was authorized under the Constitution’s taxing clause.

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