MEHRI & SKALET WINS ON BEHALF OF CONSUMER GROUPS AGAINST STATE OBSTRUCTION OF AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
In the first case of its kind, Missouri v. St. Louis Effort for AIDS, the 8th Circuit Court recently ruled that states cannot limit the ability of Navigators and other consumer assisters to help people enroll in insurance as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) intends.
“Missouri had placed groups like St. Louis Effort for AIDS in an untenable situation: If they complied with the Missouri statutes, they couldn’t perform the duties the Affordable Care Act requires them to perform, but if they complied with the ACA and performed those duties, they violated the Missouri law and became subject to thousands of dollars in penalties for doing so,” said Mehri & Skalet, PLLC partner Jay Angoff, who represented the plaintiffs in the case along with the National Health Law Program (NHeLP).
The Affordable Care Act and HHS regulations authorize various consumer-assistance entities, including Navigators and Certified Application Counselors, to help consumers enroll in health insurance coverage. In 2013, more than a dozen states, including Missouri, enacted laws that both impose additional licensing standards on consumer assisters and limit the activities they are permitted to engage in. In November 2013, two federally-certified consumer assistance counselors, the St. Louis Effort for AIDS and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, along with six other plaintiffs, challenged the Missouri law in federal court. In January of 2014, a federal district court enjoined the Missouri law, finding that the Missouri statute conflicts with and is therefore preempted by the ACA.
Read coverage of the case in the Wall Street Journal, The St. Louis Post Dispatch, and the Associated Press.
MEHRI & SKALET WINS ON BEHALF OF FEDERAL PRISON EMPLOYEES IN PRIVACY ACT VIOLATION
On April 10, an arbitrator ruled in favor of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3696, led by Stephanie J. Bryant and Taryn Wilgus Null of Mehri & Skalet, in a grievance protesting a Privacy Act violation. The Bureau of Prisons at Federal Correctional Complex Butner, North Carolina allowed inmates to obtain employees’ confidential personal information, like social security numbers and home addresses. The incident spurred a pending FBI investigation, but Mehri & Skalet was able to proceed and succeed on behalf of the employees.
The arbitrator found that the Federal Bureau of Prisons violated the Privacy Act in October of 2012 by disclosing employees’ personal information to inmates, and all affected employees are entitled to actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater.
2014 YEAR IN REVIEW IS OUT!
Want to know more about Mehri & Skalet’s latest and greatest from 2014? Check out the 2014 Year in Review, a summary of case highlights and other victories from the last year.