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Overnight Health Care: DOJ seeks extension in ObamaCare lawsuit due to shutdown | Poll finds voters oppose court ruling against health law

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Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care.

It’s day 17 of the partial government shutdown, and it’s now impacting the GOP-led ObamaCare lawsuit. We’ll start there…


DOJ asks for filing extension in ObamaCare lawsuit due to shutdown

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is asking a federal judge to pause all briefings related to a motion filed by House Democrats in an ongoing ObamaCare lawsuit, saying they cannot complete their work properly due to the government shutdown.

DOJ said its lawyers “are unable to prepare their opposition at this time due to the lapse in appropriations.”

Flashback: Last week, House Democrats officially filed a motion asking the court to allow the House to intervene as a defendant in a Republican-led lawsuit against ObamaCare, alongside a group of Democratic state attorneys general, since the Trump administration has declined to defend the law.

{mosads}The federal government opposes the motion. Their opposition, as well as the other parties’ responses, is currently due on Jan. 24, but DOJ attorneys are not permitted to work during the shutdown.

Last month, a federal judge ruled in the states’ favor, saying ObamaCare is unconstitutional. The ruling, though, will not take effect while it is appealed.

Read more on the legal fight here.


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Newly-elected Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) led the push for the House motion to join the lawsuit while she was still in that chamber. Rosen told The Hill in a brief phone interview Monday that she’s proud of the effort and expects the Senate to try something similar.

New senators were only sworn in last Thursday, and Rosen said she’ll be having conversations with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who are leading the efforts to force a Senate vote on defending the health care law.

“It’s important that the House and Senate are part of the legal process,” Rosen said. “We need to have our voice in as many arenas as we can.”

The official House vote to join the lawsuit is expected to occur this week, even though it was technically already filed in court. The vote is purely a formality and is meant to put Republican lawmakers on record, highlighting the political pressure that Democrats hope to put on GOP lawmakers who campaigned last year pledging to support protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Some legal experts want Congress to legislate away the lawsuit without becoming a party to it — either by bringing back the individual mandate (and setting it at $1), repealing it completely or passing a resolution saying the mandate can be separated from the rest of the law– but the political realities will make that very difficult.


Poll from pro-ObamaCare group finds voters oppose court ruling against health law

A new poll finds that 55 percent of voters say they opposed the court decision last month finding ObamaCare invalid, compared to 35 percent who said they supported the decision.

The poll comes from the left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling, for the pro-ObamaCare group Protect Our Care.

48 percent of voters said they would be less likely to support members of Congress if they voted against congressional action to oppose the lawsuit, while 32 percent said they’d be more likely.  

The politics: Democrats are seizing on the court ruling, sensing that it puts Republicans in a tough position. Case in point: The House will vote this week to intervene in the lawsuit to defend the lawsuit, in what Democrats say will be a tough vote for Republicans.


What we’re reading

Inside the Trump administration’s debate over expanding ObamaCare (The Federalist)

The surprising reason drug prices are on the rise (

Astra hires controversial oncologist in cancer-focused shift (Bloomberg)

Progressives will get their debate on Medicare for all — and questions abound (HuffPo)


State by state:

‘We need to have more time,’ Virginia Medicaid director says in defense of forecast (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

A $20,243 bike crash: Zuckerberg hospital’s aggressive tactics leave patients with big bills (


From The Hill’s opinion page:

We need to make things easier for doctors

Tags Chuck Schumer Jacky Rosen Joe Manchin

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