DOJ Argues That Reform Law Can Stand Without Individual Mandate
On Friday, the Obama administration said that if the Supreme Court strikes down the federal health reform law's individual mandate, the rest of the law should remain intact, Politico reports.
Plaintiffs in the case have argued that the entire law must be voided if the mandate is struck down (Haberkorn, Politico, 1/27).
In a brief filed with the court, Department of Justice lawyers noted that just two provisions would need to be eliminated if justices deem the mandate unconstitutional:
- One requiring health insurers to accept individuals regardless of their health status; and
- One prohibiting insurers from charging higher premiums based on an individual's medical history (Vicini, Reuters, 1/27).
The brief states, "Other provisions can operate independently and would still advance Congress's core goals of expanding coverage, improving public health and controlling costs even if the minimum coverage provision were held unconstitutional" (National Journal, 1/27).
DOJ lawyers also said that plaintiffs in the case have not cited an example of when the Supreme Court in recent years has struck down a comprehensive law based on if it found a single provision unconstitutional (Reuters, 1/27).
Karen Harned of the National Federation of Independent Business, a plaintiff in the case, said that the mandate holds the reform law together. She added, "To argue otherwise would be like arguing a house can stand after its foundation has crumbled" (Politico, 1/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.