KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Federal Judge Says He’ll Rule On Virginia’s Health Law Challenge By Year’s End

Bloomberg: "A federal judge in Virginia said he'll rule by yearend whether President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is constitutional, adding that his decision will be a 'brief stop' in the case on its way to the Supreme Court." U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson heard arguments today in Richmond, Virginia, about whether the health law's requirement for individuals to buy health insurance is congressional overreaching. "Already, a U.S. judge in Michigan has found the law falls within the framework of the constitution, while a federal judge in Florida last week, in allowing a case in Pensacola to proceed, said it's not even a 'close call' that Congress may have overstepped its bounds" (McQuillen, 10/18).

The Washington Post: "In a packed Richmond courtroom, ... Hudson heard more than two hours of oral arguments by lawyers acting on behalf of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and the Obama administration. ... Hudson, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2002, told the lawyers that he planned to review the arguments and 'mine deeply' briefings in the case before ruling. But he made clear that he knows his opinion will be only one of many expressed before the momentous case is complete." Judge Hudson said repeatedly that "he sees the case's core question as determining whether Congress can regulate an individual's inactivity--a person's decision to go without health insurance--under its constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce" (Helderman, 10/18). 

Politico: During the hearing, "Virginia argued that Congress overstepped its Constitutional authority when it enacted the law, which requires that nearly all Americans purchase health insurance beginning in 2014" while the federal government attorneys maintain "that Congress has the authority to enact the requirement because whether someone has insurance or not impacts interstate commerce." They also say "the requirement is an integral piece of the health care overhaul" (Habercorn, 10/18).

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