BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Attorneys general from 14 states and territories on Friday filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the federal health care law.
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler joined attorneys general from the Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, Vermont, Oregon, New York, New Mexico, Iowa, Illinois, Hawaii, Delaware, Connecticut and California in filing the brief as amicus curiae to support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"The Affordable Care Act is vital for states seeking to battle spiraling health care costs and gaps in coverage for those who need critical care," Gansler said.
"Just as Congress can legally require truck drivers to purchase liability insurance, workers to contribute to Social Security, send our children off to war, or file an income tax return every April, so can Congress require the purchase of health insurance. As every state knows all too well, health care in America is in crisis and requires a national solution."
The brief was filed in HHS v. Florida, which focuses on the constitutionality of the act's provision of minimum coverage. According to the brief, the provision is unquestionably constitutional under the Commerce Clause because it addresses a major health care crisis that is both fundamentally interstate in nature and has major effects on interstate commerce.
The amici states have made major efforts to address the cause, but write that state-by-state efforts cannot completely counteract the force of nationwide trends pushed by interstate problems.
The amici states argue that the provisions of the act are completely consistent with the intent of the Commerce Clause, which enables Congress to attack interstate problems that have major economic impacts.
The brief also argues that the provisions of the act allow states to focus their resources on urgent healthcare needs within their borders and gives them freedom to do so through setting up waivers, exchanges and more. In these ways, the act can grow the success of cooperative federalism in which states participate jointly with the federal government to build lasting solutions to problems on a national level.
In September, the National Federation of Independent Business, along with 26 states, filed petitions to make their legal challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act heard in the U.S. Supreme Court. The act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2010.
They challenge a mandate that requires individuals to purchase health insurance or face a $695 penalty. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled the mandate unconstitutional, though other circuits decided the opposite.