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Media Alerts - Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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July 30, 2014
  Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Headline: Affordable Care Act's "shared responsibility payment" is not a revenue-raising bill within the meaning of the Origination Clause of the Constitution.

Area of Law: Affordable Care Act, Origination Clause

Issue(s) Presented: Whether the Affordable Care Act's penalty for failure to maintain minimum health care coverage is a "Bill for raising Revenue" under the Constitution's Origination Clause that can only be originated by the House of Representatives.

Brief Summary: Section 5000A of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires non-exempt individuals to maintain minimum essential health insurance coverage and provides a penalty ("shared responsibility payment") for failure to do so subject to certain exceptions. Plaintiff, an artist and small business owner, challenged the individual mandate and shared responsibility payment of Section 5000A as violative of the Commerce Clause and the Origination Clause. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the complaint, and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed.

The unanimous D.C. Circuit panel held that plaintiff's Commerce Clause argument was clearly foreclosed by National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 132 S. Ct. 2566 (2012) (NFIB). Turning to the Origination Clause challenge, the court noted that the clause states that "[a]ll Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." Plaintiff contended that the shared responsibility payment was a "Bill for raising Revenue" that originated in the Senate, not in the House, in violation of the Origination Clause. Rejecting plaintiff's threshold claim, the D.C. Circuit held that the shared responsibility payment was not a "Bill[] for raising Revenue." The court cited consistent Supreme Court precedent holding that revenue bills are those that "levy taxes in the strict sense," not bills that incidentally create revenue, and indicating that the inquiry turned on the statute's "primary purpose." Because NFIB made clear that the purpose of the ACA is to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care, the court concluded that the ACA was not a bill for raising revenue. The court noted that any revenues from the shared responsibility payment are incidental and that success of the ACA actually translates into less revenue from Section 5000A payments, not more. The court rejected plaintiff's argument that the fact that Section 5000A may have been enacted solely pursuant to the taxing power brought it within the ambit of the Origination Clause, noting that many exercises of taxing power have a primary purpose other than raising of revenue and thus are not governed by the Origination Clause at all.

To read the full opinion, please visit ">http://www.cadc.uscour...v/i.....504947.pdf.


Panel: Rogers, Pillard, and Wilkins

Argument Date: May 8, 2014

Date of Issued Opinion: July 29, 2014

Docket Number: 13-5202

Decided: Affirmed

Case Alert Author: Albertine Guez

Counsel: Timothy M. Sandefur, Paul J. Beard II, and Daniel A. Himebaugh for appellant. Alisa B. Klein, Stuart F. Delery, Ronald C. Machen Jr., Beth S. Brinkmann, and Mark B. Stern for appellees.

Author of Opinion: Rogers

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Elizabeth Earle Beske, Ripple Weistling

    Posted By: Ripple Weistling @ 07/30/2014 10:06 AM     DC Circuit  

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