States Fight Over Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act
Is it right for the federal government to mandate that Americans maintain health care insurance by 2014?
Twenty-six states have banded together to argue that it is not right and have sued the federal government to strike it down. The lawsuit over the “individual responsibility provision” has traveled through several rounds of hearings, the latest at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta on June 8.
The federal government argues that the Commerce Clause allows Congress certain powers to regulate interstate commerce. This makes the individual mandate allowable as a means to lessen the economic burden caused by those who can’t afford to pay for their own health care. It will stop escalating medical care costs from falling on the shoulders of taxpayers with health insurance. In 2008, that bill was $43 billion.
The states argue that individuals should not be regulated or pushed into the health care marketplace.
According to a White House blog post, the requirement is for everyone “who can afford it to carry some form of health insurance” and that only “1 percent of all Americans would pay a penalty for not having health insurance in 2016.”
The firestorm flared in January when U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Florida first ruled against it. He went even further, however, by throwing out other key provisions that would affect a successful overhaul of America’s health care system. Florida has rejected the health care law and its federal health care dollars which will impact people with disabilities, older Floridians, and young adults up to age 26 relying on their parents’ health care coverage.
Though Florida’s actions rallied 25 other states to take up the challenge, “the truth is that there are many state leaders who think the act is constitutional, and that it will strongly benefit their states and constituents,” according to Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center. And some of the states that are suing, such as Texas, Indiana and Wisconsin, are still going ahead with plans to implement the health care law.
The debate is expected to eventually move to the U.S. Supreme Court. It could take months for a final decision. At risk is the expansion of Medicaid, which will help millions of Americans access affordable health care, the availability of health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, and affordable health care for every American.
Read various media article updates on the Health Law at Kaiser Health News.Update:
On August 12 the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that the “individual mandate” is unconstitutional.
The Kaiser Health News Scorecard is tracking court challenges.