Health Care

In Texas v. United States, Trump Fifth Circuit Judge Kurt Engelhardt cast the deciding vote to keep alive a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the entire Affordable Care Act. The case is now before the Supreme Court and, if Engelhardt’s decision is upheld, millions of Americans, including people with preexisting conditions, will lose access to quality health insurance.

In Swain v. Junior, Trump Eleventh Circuit judges Elizabeth Branch and Kevin Newsom reversed a lower court order that had required a series of safety measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 at a Florida detention center.

In Baqer v. St. Tammany Parish Government, Trump Louisiana district court judge Wendy Vitter denied a request by three men to force a Louisiana jail to enact social distancing in holding cells in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The three men, who were all being held pre-trial, alleged overcrowding and unsanitary conditions in St. Tammany Parish Jail. There were at least nine cases of COVID-19 at the jail at the time Judge Vitter issued her decision.

In Frank v. City of St. Louis, Trump Missouri district court judge Sarah Pitlyk denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented St. Louis officials from clearing a homeless encampment at a downtown park, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, “before adequate shelter, services, and medical outreach could be arranged.”

In ACAP v. Treasury, Trump D.C. Circuit judge Gregory Katsas joined an opinion upholding the Trump administration’s expansion of cheap, short-term insurance as an alternative to the ACA. These plans have been labeled “junk insurance” because they can exclude coverage for maternity care, mental health, or prescription drugs, and carriers can charge more or decline to cover people based on their health.

In County of Butler v. Wolf, Trump Pennsylvania district court judge William S. Stickman IV ruled that a lawsuit challenging the state’s business closure order and reopening plan in June could proceed immediately as violations of citizens’ First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Although not in the majority, in Cameron v. Bouchard, Trump Sixth Circuit judge John Bush would have blocked a district court order that found that jail officials in Oakland County, Michigan, were acting with “deliberate indifference” to the risks posed by COVID-19 and ordered remedial measures to protect person’s health.


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