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Statement of TexPIRG Advocate Melissa Cubria on the opening of oral arguments today on McCollum v. DHHS, the lawsuit brought by state attorneys generals and governors against the new federal health care law.
"If this lawsuit were to eventually succeed in stripping out individual responsibility from the new health care law, consumers will be the ultimate losers.
“Insured families would be left carrying more than $1000 a year in higher insurance premiums because too many of the uninsured will continue to use the Emergency Room as their primary care. The market for individual health insurance, a key coverage option for consumers and the millions of self-employed Americans who own their own business, would also see increased instability and higher rates.
“Today's hearing is just one step in a long legal process, not a final ruling on the health care law. Two federal judges have upheld the new law, 12 other cases have been dismissed outright, and only one judge has agreed with the type of challenges being put forth by today's suit.
“The final outcome will likely only be resolved by higher courts after long and costly appeals.
“The parties to this suit should dedicate the time, energy and precious taxpayer dollars they are now wasting on this lawsuit toward finding real solutions to the growing threat which health care costs pose to their states' economies."
Additional Background on Legal Challenges
As of December 15, judges have granted the Administration’s motions to dismiss 12 cases challenging the Affordable Care Act. Federal judges in Michigan and Virginia have rejected challenges to the coverage requirement and ruled the minimum coverage provision constitutional. Only one judge, Henry Hudson of the Eastern District of Virginia, has ruled against the coverage requirement, but Judge Hudson refused to issue any order halting implementation of the law, nor did he strike down any provision of the law other than the minimum coverage requirement.
Michigan District Court – October 7:
The Outcome: The court dismissed the challenge, Sixth Circuit Court appeal in progress
The Challenger: The Thomas More Law Center
- The Court upheld the individual mandate or personal responsibility provision on the ground that Congress correctly determined that, in order to guarantee insurance protection for all persons, even if they have pre-existing medical conditions that insurance companies have till now refused to cover, a personal responsibility provision is necessary to prevent additional “cost-shifting” and “even higher premiums,” and to avoid “driving the insurance market into extinction.”
- Thomas More Law Center v. Sebelius, is in the appeals process with the Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Appeal brief was filed December 15, the Justice department’s brief is due January 24, 2011
Virginia District Court – December 13:
The Outcome: Court ruled against individual reasonability provision
The Challenger: Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli
- The court did not invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act or halt the new law’s implementation. It did find the personal responsibility provision is outside the bounds of Congress' enumerated powers.
- Judge Hudson ruled on December 13, that the federal government was trying to regulate “inactivity” and that the government’s reasoning did not include a “logical limit” to its ability to regulate a market by forcing people to buy things.
- December 14, Department of Justice said it was opposed to Cuccinelli’s request for expedited review by Supreme Court, and announced plans to file an appeal with the Fourth Circuit Court
Florida District Court - Pending:
The Outcome: In Progress
The Challengers: 21 state attorneys general and governors (Full list below)
- September 14, oral argument was heard on Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the case, Florida et al. v. DHHS et al. A month later on October 14th, presiding Judge Roger Vinson threw out four of the lawsuit's six claims against the law, allowing two more to proceed.
- This case is notable because the attorneys general challenge not only the individual mandate or personal responsibility provision, but also the expansion of Medicaid coverage to all adults up to 133% of the federal poverty line, and its establishment of “exchanges” for persons not covered by employer-sponsored group health plans.
- Today, oral arguments will be heard on the two remaining claims: (1) whether the minimum coverage provision exceeds Congress's enumerated powers, and (2) whether the ACA's amendments to Medicaid are coercive, and thus effectively "commandeer" the state governments into implementing a federal legislative program.
List of Plaintiffs in McCollum v. DHHS:
Florida (Bill McCollum, Attorney General)
Alabama (Troy King, Attorney General)
Alaska (Daniel Sullivan, Attorney General)
Arizona (Janice Brewer, Governor)
Colorado (John W. Suthers, Attorney General)
Georgia (Sonny Perdue, Governor)
Idaho (Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General)
Indiana (Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General)
Louisiana (James D. “Buddy” Caldwell, Attorney General)
Michigan (Michael Cox, Attorney General)
Mississippi (Haley Barbour, Governor)
Nebraska (Jon Bruning, Attorney General)
Nevada (Jim Gibbons, Governor)
North Dakota (Wayne Stenehjem, Attorney General)
Pennsylvania (Thomas Corbett, Jr., Attorney General)
South Carolina (Henry McMaster, Attorney General)
South Dakota (Marty J. Jackley, Attorney General)
Texas (Greg Abbott, Attorney General)
Utah (Mark Shurtleff, Attorney General)
Washington (Robert McKenna, Attorney General)
National Federation of Independent Business (Non-profit)
Other Legal Challenges to the ACA that have been dismissed:
Sollars v. Reid -dismissed 4/2/10
Taitz v. Obama - dismissed 4/14/10
Archer v. U.S. Senate - dismissed 4/12/10
Heghmann v. Sebelius - dismissed 5/14/10
Mackenzie v. Shaheen - dismissed 5/26/10
Fountain Hills Tea Party Patriots v. Sebelius - dismissed 6/2/10
Coalition for Parity Inc. v. Sebelius - dismissed on 6/21/10
U.S. Citizens Association v. OMB - dismissed 8/2/10
Baldwin v. Sebelius – dismissed 8/27/10
Burlsworth v. Holder - dismissed 9/8/10
Schreeve v. Obama - dismissed 11/4/10
New Jersey Physicians v. Obama – dismissed 12/8/10
(Source: White House blog- http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/12/08/health-reform-wins-another-rou...)
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