Jus­tice Depart­ment de­fends in­sur­ance man­date in brief

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

With oral ar­gu­ments ap­proach­ing March 26, the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment gave the U.S. Supreme Court a for­mal de­fense of the health­care re­form law’s re­quire­ment that Amer­i­cans pur­chase in­sur­ance or face a tax penalty. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ar­gues in the 130-page brief that the man­date was a proper at­tempt by Congress to reg­u­late in­ter­state com­merce be­cause the over­all health­care mar­ket is af­fected when unin­sured Amer­i­cans shift bil­lions in un­com­pen­sated care costs to the in­sured pop­u­la­tion. The 11th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals ruled that Congress ex­ceeded its con­sti­tu­tional au­thor­ity, with the ma­jor­ity writ­ing that there was no ap­par­ent way to “up­hold the man­date with­out oblit­er­at­ing the bound­aries in­her­ent in the sys­tem of enu­mer­ated con­gres­sional pow­ers.” The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s brief filed last week is one of four fil­ings it will make in re­sponse to sep­a­rate ques­tions be­fore the court, se­nior Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said in a call with re­porters. Also last week, the National Fed­er­a­tion of Independent Busi­ness, three cit­i­zens and 26 states filed briefs ar­gu­ing that the en­tire re­form law should be struck down if the in­sur­ance man­date is found un­con­sti­tu­tional. An­other brief filed by 36 Repub­li­can sen­a­tors urged the court to strike down the en­tire law. Amer­ica’s Health In­sur­ance Plans and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield As­so­ci­a­tion, mean­while, filed one ar­gu­ing that with­out the man­date, in­sur­ance com­pa­nies could not rea­son­ably com­ply with the re­form law’s re­quire­ment that in­sur­ers of­fer cov­er­age to vir­tu­ally any­one.

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