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Supreme Court Declines to Take Obamacare Challenge

By Todd Ruger, CQ Roll Call

January 19, 2016 -- The Supreme Court declined Tuesday to hear another legal challenge to the 2010 health care overhaul that focused on a procedure Congress sometimes uses to pass legislation.

The lawsuit claimed that the Senate failed in the health care law to comply with the constitutional requirement that revenue bills start in the House.

Tuesday's decision leaves in place the July 2014 ruling of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that allowed a procedure to sidestep that requirement. Even though the bill raises revenue, the law's "primary purpose" was to improve health care and heath insurance coverage, the D.C. Circuit ruled.

The bill that became the health care law started as a House measure waiving the repayment requirement for some military personnel of the first-time home-buyer tax credit. The Senate substituted that text for its version of the health care overhaul. Lawmakers from both parties have used similar moves to try to avoid a "blue slip" procedure to quash tax-raising bills that start in the Senate.

Republican lawmakers had urged the court to decide the issue, arguing in amicus briefs that it raised a constitutional issue of "exceptional importance" about separation of powers.

The case is Sissel v. Department of Health and Human Services, Docket No. 15-543.


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