The Affordable Care Act: Hobby Lobby and Beyond

There has been extensive discussion of the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. as it relates to issues of religious freedom. In this report, Professor Timothy Jost of Washington and Lee University School of Law comments on the decision in relation to the Affordable Care Act. He has discussed this issue in his Health Affairs blog.

Prof. Timothy Jost

Prof. Timothy Jost

Jost opines that Hobby Lobby was a very narrow decision as regards the ACA. The decision requires that certain for-profit businesses be accommodated if they raise religious objections to paying for contraceptives. There are a number of closely held corporations in America, but not all of them will probably have the same religious issues that were involved in the Hobby Lobby case. There have been about 50 cases filed so far, but Jost believes that the number of cases filed will not increase exponentially.

As to how the ACA is working now, Jost suggests that “it’s working out pretty well.” The number of people covered are at or in excess of predicted numbers, and people on the whole seem to be satisfied with the coverage they are getting.

There are still challenges ahead for the ACA. The most serious one is probably a series of cases, including Halbig v. Sebelius, challenging the right of the federal exchanges to issue premium tax credits. An adverse decision in any of these cases would cause serious problems. However, Jost does not believe that these cases will succeed.

Professor Timothy S. Jost holds the Robert L. Willett Family Professorship of Law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law. He is a co-author of a casebook, Health Law, used widely throughout the United States in teaching health law, and of a treatise and hornbook by the same name. He has also written numerous articles and book chapters on health care regulation and comparative health law and policy, and has lectured on health law topics throughout the world.  The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.