Harris, others file another brief supporting health care law

Bryan Cohen Aug. 22, 2011, 1:44pm


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed a brief on Monday in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit that supports the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The brief urged the court to affirm the states' rights to protect the health and safety of their citizens. Harris, joined by nine other attorneys general, asserted that the federal health care law bolsters, rather than usurps, state authority to address issues in the national health care economy that the states cannot solve effectively on their own.

"The law strikes an appropriate, constitutional balance between federal and state authority over the health care system," Harris said. "It establishes federal standards, backed by federal funding, to expand access to affordable coverage while conferring considerable latitude on states to design systems that work best for their citizens."

According to the brief, the health care law solves a national problem in a way that strengthens the power of the states by building on a successful cooperative federalism model. The brief also argues that the framework established by the law "empowers states to create enduring solutions to those problems, and to do so with federal support."

Other states joining California in the brief include Delaware, Iowa, New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon and the District of Columbia.

The same group of attorneys general filed a friend-of-the-court brief in July in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The brief urged that court to affirm the constitutionality of the federal health care reform law. Harris also filed similar briefs in April in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in March in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and in January in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

At issue is a part of the health care law that requires individuals to purchase health insurance or face an annual penalty of $695. The 11th Circuit recently ruled it was unconstitutional, though the Sixth Circuit had previously decided the opposite.

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