Pension & Benefits News Employee lacks Article III standing to challenge ACA interim final rules
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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Employee lacks Article III standing to challenge ACA interim final rules

By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff

An employee who receives health insurance through her employer failed to establish Article III standing to allow her suit challenging two interim final rules under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) to proceed in relation to coverage for hormonal medications she uses for birth control and for non-contraceptive medical purposes.

In October 2017, the Departments of Treasury, Labor and HHS issued two rules, creating religious and moral exemptions and accommodations for coverage of certain preventive services under the ACA. These rules allow employers to seek exemptions from requirements that the employer cover certain aspects of women’s health care, including hormonal birth control.

In this instance, the employer did not exercise an exemption. Nonetheless, the employee filed a complaint seeking a declaration that the rules violate her rights under the Constitution, and further, that the rules were implemented in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. The defendants, including the President of the United States and secretaries of the respective departments, filed a motion to dismiss for lack of Article III standing, claiming that the court was devoid of subject matter jurisdiction. In response, the employee filed a motion to strike the government’s motion, however, the court denied the motion to strike, framing it as frivolous.

In its order granting the government’s motion to dismiss, the court explained that the employee bears the burden of establishing standing. In order to do so, the employee must show "(1) an injury in fact; (2) a sufficient causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of; and (3) a likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision."

Here, the employee failed to demonstrate an injury in fact, the court found. Specifically, the court said that her fears of a hypothetical future injury were not tantamount to an "actual and imminent" injury as required to establish an injury in fact for purposes of Article III standing. Thus, the court determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction, distinguishing away analogies by the employee to cases where the plaintiff had standing in cases regarding the rules. Specifically, the court noted that in this instance, there were no factual allegations in the employee’s complaint indicating that the coverage for contraception was likely to change based on the rules. Ultimately, the employee failed to establish that she had standing to challenge the rules and therefore, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

SOURCE: Campbell v. Trump, (D. Colo), No. 1:17-cv-02455-PAB-SKC, September 11, 2018.

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