Monday, October 03, 2011

Health Care Reform case submitted to Supreme Court

Ohio, The U.S. Justice Department, and 25 other states, filed petitions last Wednesday seeking the Supreme Court review of last year's controversial federal health care reform law, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

“This case offers the Court an ideal vehicle to resolve pressing and persistent constitutional questions arising out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” the request for certiorari says. “It represents an unprecedented challenge—involving over half the States in the Nation—to an unprecedented legislative initiative….”

Three of the Act‘s core provisions are being challenged: “its significant Medicaid expansions, which Congress has forced upon the States by threatening to withhold billions in federal funding unless States comply; the employer mandates, which impose harsh penalties upon States that do not offer their employees a federally mandated level of insurance; and the Act‘s individual mandate, which requires nearly all individuals (including those currently eligible for, but not participating in, state-funded Medicaid) to maintain health care insurance or pay a penalty to the federal government.”

“The Eleventh Circuit correctly held that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but it erred in rejecting the States‘ Medicaid challenge based on a reading of the coercion doctrine that would deprive it of all force as a meaningful limitation on Congress‘s vast spending power,” petitioners profess. “And it misapplied this Court‘s severance doctrine to leave the entire rest of the Act standing even though the mandate indisputably served as the centerpiece of the delicate compromise that produced the Act. Indeed, the Court of Appeals left standing provisions of the Act that even the government conceded were inextricably intertwined with the mandate.”

Also, Lyle Denniston at ScotusBlog reported over the weekend that “The state of Virginia, seeking to revive its constitutional challenge to a key part of the new federal health care law, asked the Supreme Court on Friday to rule that the state has a right to be in court -- the fifth petition seeking review of the new law’s mandate that virtually all Americans must have health insurance by the year 2014. Virginia is the only challenger now at the Court to have been denied ”standing” in lower courts. Its petition, with a lengthy appendix is here.

“Virginia’s challenge to the insurance mandate, unlike that of others who have appealed, is tied to a state law that declared that no resident of the state could be compelled to obtain a health care policy, as required by the federal law. The legislature passed it in anticipation of Congress’s enactment of the health care law, and, relying upon its statute, Virginia was the first to file a federal court case against the mandate. The Fourth Circuit Court, however, ruled last month that Virginia had no basis for challenging the mandate,; it found that the provision imposed no burden at all on the state.”

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