Washington Update

Liberty University Petitions Supreme Court on the Affordable Care Act’s Employer Mandate

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Liberty University filed a petition on September 5 asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take another look at the so-called employer mandate within the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The law requires employers with more than 50 full-time employees to provide affordable healthcare coverage to employees and their dependents, and the law assesses a penalty on employers who refuse to comply. Earlier this year the Obama administration announced that it was delaying the implementation of the employer mandate until 2015.

In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a ruling that unanimously upheld the employer mandate. The ruling stated that, “Requiring employers to offer their employees a certain level of compensation through health insurance coverage is akin to requiring employers to pay their workers a minimum wage.”

The petition filed by Liberty University, a Virginia-based Christian institution, asks the Supreme Court to consider whether the Fourth Circuit erred in its ruling on the employer mandate. It also asks whether Congress has the authority to impose taxes or fees on employers to enforce the health care mandate and whether portions of the law violate the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Specifically, Liberty, which was joined in its petition by two individuals, also contends that including birth control on a list of mandated services violates the religious freedom of religiously affiliated employers. The Fourth Circuit did not address that issue.

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