A general view of the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Dec. 30, 2014.
Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

‘I don’t like the idea of throwing people off their health insurance’

Updated
When it comes to the insanity surrounding the King v. Burwell case, we already have a pretty good sense of most of the relevant angles. We know who supports the ridiculous case and why, what happens if Republican justices go along with this dangerous nonsense, how many families will suffer and where, etc.
 
We don’t, however, know much about the specific plaintiffs themselves.
 
Remember, when challenging a federal law, it’s not enough for someone to get a lawyer, go to court, and demand the law be struck down. In the American system, plaintiffs need standing – litigants have to demonstrate that a law harms them in some direct way.
 
And so, in the painfully absurd King v. Burwell case, anti-healthcare lawyers went out and found four people willing to sue because they’re eligible under the Affordable Care Act for insurance subsidies. They’ve been largely overlooked, but given the possibility that this case will end access to medical care for millions of families, it seems like a good time to ask, “Who are these people who want to destroy the American health care system?”
 
Stephanie Mencimer reports today on all four of the plaintiffs, and it’s quite a collection of folks. For example, David King of King v. Burwell notoriety, “brought up Benghazi” when asked about the anti-healthcare lawsuit. Rose Luck believes President Obama may be the “anti-Christ” and was elected by “his Muslim people.” But a Virginia woman Brenda Levy stood out as especially significant.
What was more surprising, though, was that she said she didn’t recall exactly how she had been selected as a plaintiff in the case to begin with. “I don’t know how I got on this case. I haven’t done a single thing legally. I’m gonna have to ask them how they found me,” she told me. She thought lawyers involved with the case may have contacted her at some point and she had decided to “help ‘em out.” […]
 
When I asked her if she realized that her lawsuit could potentially wipe out health coverage for millions, she looked befuddled. “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.”
Her case, whether Levy realizes it or not, exists to throw people off their health insurance.
 
She added that she intends to go to D.C. for the Supreme Court’s oral arguments “It’s an adventure,” Levy said. “Like going to Paris!”
 
Complicating matters further, three of the four plaintiffs are finding their standing suddenly facing new scrutiny. The Wall Street Journal reported late Friday that King “appears to qualify for veterans’ medical coverage, raising questions about his ability to challenge the law.”
The plaintiffs have persuaded courts to hear their case on the grounds that the subsidies allegedly harm them by subjecting them to the law’s requirement to carry insurance or pay a penalty. Without the subsidies, insurance would be too expensive for them, they contend, thus making them exempt from having to pay the fine for lacking insurance.
 
But Mr. King could avoid paying that fine or any insurance premiums because, according to him and his attorneys, he served in the Army in Vietnam. That qualifies him for medical coverage with no premiums through the Department of Veterans Affairs, benefits and legal experts say. In an interview at his home here, Mr. King said he had been to a VA medical center and had a VA identification card, which typically serves as proof of VA-care enrollment.
 
Legal experts say the fact that Mr. King could avoid paying the penalty for lacking insurance by enrolling in VA coverage undermines his legal right to bring the case, known as “standing.” The wife of a second plaintiff has described her husband on social media as being a Vietnam veteran. The government previously questioned the standing of a third plaintiff on the grounds that her income may exempt her from paying the penalty for lacking insurance, but a lower court didn’t address the issue.
Levy, the one who doesn’t want to throw people off their health insurance despite her role as a plaintiff in this case, will qualify for Medicare this June – which would remove her from the ACA coverage system anyway.
 
These fresh details reinforce the impression that the entire King v. Burwell case seems like a transparent scam, and as the WSJ added, the standing issues “could create skepticism about the strength of the challengers’ case and highlight the difficulty of finding plaintiffs to show the health law’s subsidies harm Americans.”
 

Affordable Care Act, Obamacare and Supreme Court

'I don't like the idea of throwing people off their health insurance'

Updated