Schmidt says court avoided key issues in ACA ruling

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Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the U.S. Supreme Court dodged a key constitutional question when it found in favor of the Affordable Care Act on Thursday.

The court ruled 7-2 to uphold former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care legislation that Schmidt and 18 other attorneys general challenged in court.

The court ruled against Schmidt, who is running for governor against former Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer and possibly Democatic incumbent Gov. Laura Kelly, who has emphasized health care during her administration.

The court kept the health care law intact, ruling that the states didn’t have legal standing to challenge the law because they hadn’t suffered harm.

Schmidt took exception to the court’s ruling.

“It is disappointing that after all this time and effort, the U.S. Supreme Court still declined to reach the merits and answer the important constitutional question presented: By what authority does Congress order Americans to buy insurance?

“That important question about constraints on the limited, enumerated federal powers of the federal government will have to wait for another day ”

Nine years ago, the court ruled that the law was constitutional because the ACA’s requirement for individuals to be insured levied a tax on anyone who didn’t comply.

Congress later eliminated the penalty while leaving the mandate in place, which set off a new legal assault against the law.

Kansas, along with a group other states, contended that Congress didn’t have the authority to impose a mandate without invoking its taxing authority.

“Since the Supreme Court has already held that Congress has no authority to impose the mandate on Americans without invoking its taxing authority, the ACA…should now be ruled unconstitutional,” Schmidt’s office said when the lawsuit was filed in 2018.

And if the mandate was no longer constitutional, all of the ACA’s other provisions such as Medicaid expansion and protections for people with preexisting conditions had to be tossed as well.

Kelly, who has pushed hard for Medicaid expansion under the ACA law, celebrated the ruling in a statement.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a victory for more than one million Kansans with a preexisting condition and the future health of our workforce,” Kelly said.

“It’s clear that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land,” she said.

“It’s time for Kansas to join 38 states and the District of Columbia by expanding Medicaid to support our economic growth, protect our rural hospitals, and provide quality, affordable healthcare to 165,000 Kansans.”

Colyer agreed to pursue the lawsuit after he succeeded Sam Brownback as governor in 2018.

“The legal and policy failures of Obamacare are well known,” Colyer said at the time,  “and I am pleased that Kansas is joining this new effort to expose them.”