Anti-Obamacare Legal Case is a Lawsuit in Search of Victims

Thursday, February 12, 2015
Michael Greve (photo: AEI)

A legal case capable of crippling Obamacare has a total of four plaintiffs behind it, and three of them could soon have no reason to complain about the law.


Mother Jones looked into the people who brought King v. Burwell to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to begin hearing oral arguments next month. Of the four plaintiffs, three of them are nearly 65 years old. Their age means they will soon qualify for Medicare, and once they receive it, they wouldn’t have to pay for health insurance under Obamacare.


That leaves one plaintiff, Rose Luck, who considers the president the “anti-Christ.” She and her husband have been struggling financially and had trouble paying their medical bills, according to Stephanie Mencimer at Mother Jones.


To challenge a federal law, plaintiffs must demonstrate that they will somehow be harmed if the law remains in effect. It is questionable whether any of the four plaintiffs have such standing, says Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress. “CEI’s trouble recruiting plaintiffs for this lawsuit who can claim, with certainty, that they were actually injured in some way by Obamacare says a great deal about the stakes in this litigation,” he wrote. “The justices allowed themselves ‘to be recruited into the front lines of a partisan war’ [quoting The New York Times’ Linda Greenhouse]. And once a justice decides to take sides in such a war, it’s not likely that they are going to be deterred because CEI was less-than-diligent in recruiting plaintiffs.


The real force behind the lawsuit is a group of conservative lawyers and think tanks bent on destroying the Affordable Care Act. They include the American Enterprise Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), “a think tank funded by big pharmaceutical firms, oil and gas outfits, the Koch brothers, Google, tobacco companies, and conservative foundations,” Mencimer reported.


Michael Greve, former chairman and current board of directors member of CEI, has reportedly described Obamacare as a “bastard” that “has to be killed as a matter of political hygiene.” He also compared the health care law to the Holocaust, according to ThinkProgress.


If the four plaintiffs win their case, between 8 and 13 million Americans could lose their health insurance, and those keeping their coverage could face premium hikes of 35% or more.


“You are asking us to kick millions of Americans off health insurance, just to save four people a few dollars,” federal appeals court Judge Andre Davis said about the case. “As it turns out,” wrote Millhiser, “the four King plaintiffs may have even less at stake than Judge Davis thought.”


Plaintiff Brenda Levy, who will qualify for Medicare in several months, told Mencimer she couldn’t remember how she came to be recruited for the case and said she had never met the lawyers behind it. Also, she was surprised to learn that so many people stood to lose their insurance if she won in court. “I don't want things to be more difficult for people,” she said. “I don't like the idea of throwing people off their health insurance.”

- Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Meet the Unusual Plaintiffs Behind the Supreme Court Case That Could Destroy Obamacare (by Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones)

The Case against Obamacare May Fail One of the Most Basic Tests of a Lawsuit (by Ian Millhiser, Think Progress)

Lead Plaintiff in Anti-Obamacare Lawsuit Now Bankrupt with Unpaid Medical Bills (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


Leave a comment