Plaintiffs Challenging Reform Law Ask Appeals Court To Uphold Ruling
On Wednesday, the plaintiffs in the multistate lawsuit challenging the federal health reform law filed a motion urging the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to uphold a ruling by a U.S. district court judge that the individual mandate in the federal health reform law violates the U.S. Constitution, CQ HealthBeat reports (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 5/4).
Background on Lawsuit
On Jan. 31, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the reform law's requirement that most U.S. residents purchase health coverage or face a penalty is unconstitutional.
Vinson agreed with the suit's plaintiffs -- state attorneys general and governors of 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Business and two individuals -- that the individual mandate exceeds Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce. Vinson also invalidated the entire law because he concluded that the mandate is "inextricably bound" to other provisions in the law.
Amid conflicting interpretations of his ruling, Vinson issued a stay, permitting implementation of the overhaul to continue in the 26 plaintiff states while the administration pursued an appeal. The appeals court in Atlanta then granted the Obama administration's request to expedite an appeal. The court also announced that a randomly selected three-judge panel will hear oral arguments in the appeal on June 8 (California Healthline, 4/13).
Details of New Motion
The plaintiffs argued in their filing that the individual mandate "would imperil individual liberty, render Congress' other enumerated powers superfluous and allow Congress to usurp the general police power reserved to the states" (AP/Washington Post, 5/5).
The group added that the mandate could lead to even more federal directives on individuals. According to the motion, "The federal government's interest in controlling the cost of health care would likewise give Congress authority to order individuals to eat more vegetables and fewer desserts, to exercise at least 45 minutes per day, to sleep at least eight hours per day and to drink one glass of wine per day but never any beer" (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 5/4).
States Try To Avoid Implementation
A number of states are developing ways to avoid implementing the reform law while it is assessed in the courts, National Journal reports.
For example, Ohio Republicans are pushing a constitutional amendment for an election ballot in November that would bar implementation of the individual mandate. In addition, the New Hampshire House on Wednesday considered a bill requiring the state to send back any federal money meant to help implementation efforts.
Further, about a dozen states have introduced or passed legislation to enter into interstate compacts as a way of avoiding the reform law (Fung, National Journal, 5/4).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.