Eighth Circuit Rules That Healthcare Challengers Lack Standing

By: Administrator on October 14th, 2012

[The following summary was written by Nyemaster Goode attorney Colin Smith]

In one of the latest cases to come down in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently dismissed another challenge to the healthcare law.  Authored by Iowan and rumored Supreme Court short-lister Judge Steven Colloton, the Court denied two plaintiffs’ challenges to the universal coverage provision in the ACA on the grounds that neither party had standing to bring the case.

Before the Supreme Court ruled in the primary challenge to the ACA last summer in NFIB v. Sebelius, two Missouri residents filed suit in federal district court claiming that the healthcare law should be ruled invalid because: (1) Congress exceeded its authority under the Commerce Clause and taxing powers to impose a health insurance mandate, and (2) the mandate violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by infringing on their rights under the Missouri Health Care Freedom Act.  The two plaintiffs, Samantha Hill and Peter Kinder (who also happens to be Missouri’s Lieutenant Governor), had their suit dismissed by the district court below because the judge ruled that the two plaintiffs had suffered no “injury” by the existence of the ACA that could be redressed by the courts.

On appeal, the Eighth Circuit agreed.  Plaintiff Hill claimed that the ACA forced her to buy a health insurance plan she didn’t want.  Specifically, Hill claimed that she only wanted to by a higher deductible “catastrophic” healthcare plan.  Hill claimed that the ACA would make it impossible for her to purchase her preferred plan because she interpreted the ACA to only allow those less than 30 years old and whose premiums exceeded eight percent of their household income to purchase such a plan.  The Court rejected this by correctly pointing out that Hill had misread the text of the statute: the ACA allows a person under 30 or a person whose premiums exceed more than eight percent of their household income to purchase such a catastrophic plan.  Hill was under 30 years old; therefore she could purchase her desired plan without interference from the ACA.  Or, in other words, the ACA had not harmed her at all.

The Court also rejected Plaintiff Kinder’s claim on the grounds that he never brought forth any sufficient evidence showing he would be affected by the universal insurance requirement.  Kinder was already covered under an insurance plan, so the existence of the mandate would have no effect on him.  Therefore, he too had suffered no injury at the hands of the ACA.

 

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On Brief is devoted to appellate litigation, with a focus on the Iowa Supreme Court, the Iowa Court of Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
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