June 19, 2014 Articles

ACA Preemption and How a Missouri Order Will Impact Health Litigation

The ruling may cause state legislators to act cautiously before considering laws designed to obstruct implementation of the ACA.

By John W. Polonis

Score one for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On January 23, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri found that federal law likely preempts Missouri’s Health Insurance Marketplace Innovation Act (HIMIA). The court ruled that state law cannot apply to federally certified entities or individuals counseling those seeking to purchase insurance on Missouri’s federally facilitated exchange (FFE). See St. Louis Effort for Aids v. Huff, No. 13-4246 (W.D. Mo. 2014).

The Huff court issued a preliminary injunction against the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration, preventing it from enforcing state laws on certified applicant counselors (CACs) that exceed the ACA and its accompanying regulatory requirements. The court found the licensing requirements of HIMIA to conflict with and run counter to the ACA. U.S. District Court Judge Ortrie D. Smith held that federal law preempted HIMIA because the state law otherwise would impede the efforts of health-insurance navigators and CACs to educate people about Missouri’s FFEs, as required by the ACA.

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