WASHINGTON (April 5, 2011) — The Obama administration recently targeted each argument underpinning a federal judge's ruling against the 2010 healthcare overhaul.
The federal government specified in its April 1 appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta why a Florida judge's Jan. 31 ruling striking down the law's individual insurance mandate as unconstitutional was inaccurate.
Among the key arguments was a response to the lower court's ruling that Congress cannot require people to buy health insurance because it does not have the authority to regulate inactivity. The Obama administration responded that the huge cost of treating the uninsured—estimated at $43 billion in 2008—impacts interstate commerce, which Congress is authorized to regulate, and imposes costs on others in the market.
Also, the federal appeal dismissed the lower court's holding that Congress has no power to fine inactivity. That fine was actually a tax, the government's lawyers argued.
“Contrary to the district court's reasoning, the validity of this provision does not turn on whether it is labeled a 'tax,'” the appeal stated.
Even as they argued that the individual mandate was constitutional, the administration's attorneys also argued that if it were unconstitutional, it could be severed from the remainder of the law without affecting it. The lower court cited the law's lack of a so-called severability clause for unconstitutional provisions when it struck down the entire law.
Oral arguments are set for June 8.
This report appeared in Modern Healthcare magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.