Trump's Supreme Court pick: 5 things to know about Neil Gorsuch's healthcare views

The U.S. Court of Appeals judge is hailed by conservatives as a supporter of originalism – but how does that translate into healthcare decisions?
By Jessica Davis
02:20 PM

Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court Justice nominee, is being hailed as the "most natural successor to Justice Antonin Scalia." Much like Scalia, he supports originalism that treats the U.S. Constitution as it was written, instead of a living document.

If confirmed, Gorsuch, at 49, will be the youngest Supreme Court Justice since Justice Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1991.

Gorsuch was named to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit by former President George W. Bush in May 2006, which holds territorial jurisdiction over areas in Utah, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wyoming and the portions of Yellowstone National Park in Idaho and Montana.

In his 11 years on the 10th circuit, Gorsuch has stuck to conservative values and support of religious freedom. But he also has a history of pushing back on federal agencies and regulations – including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Here's where Gorsuch stands when it comes to healthcare:

1. He's against assisted suicide. In his book published in 2016, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Gorsuch railed against assisted suicide, with the argument that all human life is fundamentally valuable and it's always wrong to intentionally kill.

2. He supported defunding Planned Parenthood in Utah. Gorsuch sided with Utah Governor Gary Herbert in the re-hearing of Planned Parenthood vs. Gary Herbert in October 2016, after the court originally ordered the state to fund the organization.

3. He's against the ACA contraceptive mandate. In two widely-publicized cases in 2013, Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius and Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell, Gorsuch sided with the corporations' right to exemption of the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate on religious grounds.

"The ACA's mandate requires them to violate their religious faith by forcing them to lend an impermissible degree of assistance to conduct their religion teaches to be gravely wrong," Gorsuch wrote.

4. He's tough on federal agencies and regulations. In May 2016, Gorsuch and the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services when it applied the wrong law to Caring Hearts Personal Home Services, a home healthcare provider, The Kansas City Star reported. In doing so, CMS told Caring Hearts it owed the government $800,000 for services provided. But the law wasn't in place during the time CMS asked for the money back.

"One thing seems to us certain: An agency decision that loses track of its own controlling regulations and applies the wrong rules in order to penalize private citizens can never stand," the court said in its decision.

5. His abortion stance is unclear. While some say his past rulings and opinions suggest Gorsuch would be a pro-life Supreme Court Justice, he has never ruled directly on an abortion rights case. In his book, however, Gorsuch wrote that "no constitutional basis exists for preferring the mother's liberty interests over the child's life."

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com


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