Feds, states ask for judgment in health care challenge

John O'Brien Nov. 5, 2010, 10:20am

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is one of the state attorneys general challenging health care reform.

PENSACOLA, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - The 20 states challenging federal health care reform moved for summary judgment in their lawsuit on Thursday.

The federal government also filed its motion, two days after voters around the country gave the House of Representatives and many statewide offices to the Republican Party. Being challenged ia a $695 yearly penalty assessed to those who do not purchase health insurance.

"The Act's 'Individual Mandate' - a requirement that virtually all Americans obtain and maintain congressionally approved health care insurance coverage for themselves and their families - is unconstitutional," the states' motion says.

"Congress' power under the Commerce Clause is not infinite. At its furthest reach, the commerce power permits federal regulation of activities having a substantial relation to interstate commerce. The commerce power does not allow Congress to compel inactive individuals to engage in economic activity against their will."

In ruling on the federal government's motion to dismiss, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson wrote that individuals can not avoid the mandate.

"It is not based on an activity that they make the choice to undertake," Vinson wrote. "Rather, it is based solely on citizenship and on being alive."

The federal government argues that Congress acted within its authority and that the mandate is vital to the success of the overall package.

"Even as to the uninsured, plaintiffs concede that Congress may require that they, too, obtain insurance at the point of procuring health care services, and quibble only that 'formalism' prevents the government from requiring insurance in advance of its use, thus claiming that Congress must turn a blind eye to the fact that in the aggregate, virtually everyone will at some point obtain medical services," the feds' motion says.

"This both misses the point of insurance - which is precisely to pay to cover services in advance of receiving them - and challenges the constitutionality of a broad federal statute based on its application to a subset of those who are regulated."

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is also in the summary judgment phase of his health care challenge. His lawsuit argues that a Virginia law prevents Virginians from being forced to purchase health insurance.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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