May 16, 2018

Blue states can defend ACA in latest lawsuit, judge says

ACA protests outside the Supreme Court in 2012. Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

A group of liberal states will be allowed to defend the Affordable Care Act in court after a federal judge in Texas today granted their request for a formal role in the latest constitutional challenge to the ACA.

Why it matters: The ACA's allies would much rather have a voice of their own in the lawsuit — which challenges the ACA's individual mandate — rather than leaving the pro-ACA argument entirely in the hands of the Trump administration.

The details: The latest lawsuit, filed by Texas and a group of other red states, aims to revive the legal debate over the ACA's individual mandate — which the Supreme Court upheld in 2012.

  • The Supreme Court viewed the mandate as a tax. It said Congress can use tax penalties to discourage certain behavior (in this case, being uninsured).
  • When Congress "repealed" the individual mandate earlier this year, what it actually did was drop the penalty down to $0. Technically, the requirement to purchase insurance is still on the books — there's just no penalty for defying it.
  • Texas argues that the Supreme Court upheld the penalty, not the underlying requirement, and now the underlying requirement is all that's left.

Between the lines: In asking to join the case, blue states said they "have a strong interest in protecting their existing healthcare infrastructure and the orderly operation of their healthcare systems, which would be thrown into disarray if the ACA were ruled unconstitutional."

  • If they hadn't been allowed to intervene, the job of defending the ACA would have fallen solely to the Justice Department. And Democrats feared that defense would not have been very strong.

Go deeper

Hungary's Viktor Orbán granted sweeping powers amid coronavirus crisis

Viktor Orbán. Photo: Michal Cizek/AFP via Getty Images

Hungary's parliament passed a law Monday to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán almost unlimited power, for an indefinite period, to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Hungary has taken a sharply authoritarian turn over the past decade under Orbán, and its likely that he and other strongman leaders around the world will seek to maintain powers they gain during the current crisis long after it's over.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. ET: 737,929 — Total deaths: 35,019 — Total recoveries: 156,507.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. ET: 143,055 — Total deaths: 2,513 — Total recoveries: 4,865.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30.
  4. Trump latest: The president brushed aside allegations that China is spreading misinformation about the origin of the coronavirus on "Fox & Friends."
  5. Business updates: Americans are calm about their retirement savings despite coronavirus fallout.
  6. World updates: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will self-isolate after an aide tested positive for coronavirus.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

BIG3 to create a hybrid reality show about quarantine basketball

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sports are on pause, and there's no timetable for their return. In the interim, leagues, teams and athletes are getting creative with ways to keep fans engaged.

The latest: A "quarantined reality show basketball tournament," courtesy of the BIG3, the upstart 3-on-3 basketball league founded by Ice Cube and his longtime business partner Jeff Kwatinetz.

Go deeperArrow31 mins ago - Sports