Judge tosses Maryland lawsuit seeking to shield ACA
- A federal judge in Maryland dismissed the state's lawsuit seeking to affirm the constitutionality and enforceability of the Affordable Care Act.
- In a Friday decision, Judge Ellen Lipton Hollander of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland dismissed the case for lack of standing, saying that while the Trump administration has made clear its dislike of the law and has tried to repeal it, the state failed to show actual attempts to not enforce it.
- Meanwhile, four states announced a motion to intervene in a separate lawsuit defending the ACA after a Texas judge declared the 2010 law unconstitutional late last year.
Although no serious efforts have been mounted recently to repeal the ACA, some fallout from policy changes chipping away at the law is showing. California officials have blamed plummeting signups in the state's exchanges on the lack of an individual mandate penalty.
Maryland's lawsuit was meant to "head off the myriad of serious harms" that could result from Trump administration efforts to undermine the ACA. It also sought to bar Matthew Whitaker — appointed acting U.S. attorney general when Jeff Sessions resigned — from leading the government's side in the case. Trump has since appointed William Barr to serve as attorney general.
In dismissing the case, Hollander said the administration has neither stopped enforcing the ACA in the wake of the Texas judgment nor opposed a stay of that ruling, pending appeal.
"The President's profound disdain for the ACA cannot be seriously disputed," Hollander writes in her opinion. "But, the State's allegations do not create a plausible inference of a substantial or certainly impending risk that the Trump Administration will cease enforcement of part or all of the ACA."
Meanwhile, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa joined a Michigan motion seeking permission to join an appeal by 26 other states and the District of Columbia opposing the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruling that the ACA is unconstitutional without its individual mandate penalty
The coalition, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, maintains the Texas court erred in its decision and that dismantling the ACA would undermine the health of millions of Americans who depend on the law for health insurance, as well as economic growth and trust in government.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer echoed that sentiment. "Health care for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders is on the line," she tweeted on Thursday. "If the decision is upheld, it will make it harder for families across the state to get the care they need."