States Split on How To Move Forward on Health Reform Implementation
States are split on whether to continue implementing the federal health reform law, after a U.S. District Court judge on Monday ruled its individual mandate unconstitutional and consequently voided the entire law, the Washington Post reports (Goldstein/Aizenman, Washington Post, 2/1).
Details of Judge's Ruling
U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson agreed with plaintiffs in the multistate lawsuit that the mandate exceeds Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce.
Vinson voided the entire law because he concluded that the mandate is "inextricably bound" to other provisions in the law.
Vinson is the second federal judge to strike down the law's individual mandate, but the first to overturn the entire law.
However, despite invalidating the overhaul, he refused to grant the 26 plaintiff states' request to suspend further implementation of the law, saying that such an order is unnecessary because of a "long-standing presumption" that the federal government will comply with judicial rulings such as his (California Healthline, 2/1).
States Disagree on Implementation Following Ruling
State officials in Florida, Idaho and Wisconsin -- three of 26 states that took part in the multistate lawsuit -- said that the ruling means the law is no longer relevant unless an appellate court reverses the decision (Washington Post, 2/1).
Wisconsin Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen (R) said he has advised Gov. Scott Walker (R) that "the federal health care law is dead." He added, "Effectively, Wisconsin was relieved of any obligations or duties that were created under terms" of the law (Sack et al., New York Times, 2/1).
Meanwhile, the governors of Georgia, Iowa and Mississippi -- the latter two also were part of the lawsuit -- said the ruling does not give states license to end implementation efforts in part because its appeal to higher courts is almost a certainty.
Brian Robinson -- communications director for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) -- said, "The state cannot halt midstream, because that would be irresponsible," adding, "It would put us too far behind if our litigation is not successful in the end" (Washington Post, 2/1).
According to Bloomberg, the federal government is permitted to enforce the law while appeals are pending outside of judicial districts where it has been invalidated (Harris/Fisk, Bloomberg, 2/1).
However, David Rivkin, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the ruling exempts the states involved in the lawsuit entirely from the reform law's requirements. He noted that various provisions in the law related to insurance companies and employers that already have gone into effect are not affected by the ruling because the decision did not address those measures specifically (Washington Post, 2/1).
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) said the states involved in the multistate lawsuit will meet on Wednesday to discuss their next moves (Bloomberg, 2/1).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.