Feb 14, 2019

Democrats are divided on how to tackle the ACA lawsuit

Nancy Pelosi speaks at a conference about the White House's targeting of the ACA's pre-existing conditions. Photo: Toya Sarno Jordan/Getty Images

Congress could easily get rid of the GOP lawsuit that threatens the entire Affordable Care Act — if Democrats want to force the issue. But two of the smartest pro-ACA legal experts are divided over whether that’s a good strategy.

Refresher: The lawsuit, filed by Republican attorneys general, argues that the ACA’s individual mandate is invalid because Congress has zeroed out the penalty for not having insurance — and the penalty, not the mandate it was enforcing, is what the Supreme Court upheld in 2012. A great many legal experts consider the GOP's argument a long shot, but it won the first round of legal proceedings.

There's an easy fix: Just repeal the mandate. It's not in effect, and realistically, Democrats are unlikely to ever raise the penalty back above $0.

What they're saying:

  • Go for it, says University of Michigan law professor Nick Bagley. At best, Democrats would neutralize a lawsuit that could undo the ACA. At worst, they'd be putting Republicans on the record about the future of protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Not so fast, argues Washington & Lee's Tim Jost. He's afraid that if Democrats attempted such a fix but failed, conservative judges could take it as a tacit admission that there’s a problem, and use that as a pretext to strike down the ACA.

Go deeper: Andrew Sprung, one of the Internet's best ACA resources, spoke to both Bagley and Jost and has a good roundup about all this on his blog.

Go deeper

Inside hackers' pivot to medical espionage

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A wave of cyber-spying around COVID-19 medical research is once more demonstrating the perils of treating cybersecurity as a separate, walled-off realm.

Driving the news: U.S. officials recently announced an uptick in Chinese-government affiliated hackers targeting medical research and other facilities in the United States for data on a potential COVID-19 cure or effective treatments to combat the virus. Additionally, “more than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses,” reports the New York Times.

The downsides of remote work

Data: Reproduced from Prudential/Morning Consult "Pulse of the American Worker Survey"; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a large-scale experiment in working from home. It has gone well enough that many companies are expanding their remote work expectations for the foreseeable future, and remote employees want to continue to work that way.

Yes, but: The downsides of remote work — less casual interaction with colleagues, an over-reliance on Zoom, lack of in-person collaboration and longer hours — could over time diminish the short-term gains.

Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Beijing forces a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, the once semi-autonomous city's status as one of Asia's largest financial hubs is at risk.

Why it matters: Political freedoms and strong rule of law helped make Hong Kong a thriving center for international banking and finance. But China's leaders may be betting that top firms in Hong Kong will trade some political freedoms for the economic prosperity Beijing can offer.