KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Administration Lawyers File Brief In Support Of Health Law

Justice Department attorneys argue that even if the Supreme Court overturns the individual mandate, it doesn't need to void the entire law.

Reuters: Obama Lawyers Argue Rest Of Health Law Can Survive
The Obama administration told the Supreme Court on Friday that nearly all of President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul can survive if the court declares unconstitutional the law's centerpiece provision requiring health coverage. Administration attorneys argued in a written brief that all but two provisions can be separated from the requirement that Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty by 2014, the law's cornerstone known as the individual mandate (Vicini, 1/27).

Politico: Justice Dept. To SCOTUS: Don't Overturn Entire Law
The Obama administration on Friday told the Supreme Court that if the justices rule that the health reform law's mandate is unconstitutional, they don't need to get rid of the entire law. Only two provisions — those requiring insurers to accept everyone regardless of health status and to apply "community rates" — must go if the mandate is knocked down, Justice Department lawyers wrote in a brief to the court. "Other provisions can operate independently and would still advance Congress's core goals of expanding coverage, improving public health and controlling costs even if the minimum coverage provision were held unconstitutional," Justice Department lawyers wrote (Haberkorn, 1/27).

CQ HealthBeat: Individual Mandate And Consumer Protections Must Stay Together, DOJ Tells Justices
The Obama administration on Friday, in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, resisted arguments that the entire health care law should be struck down if its individual mandate is found unconstitutional. Friday was the deadline for the Justice Department to file a brief with the high court on the issue in the legal fight known as severability — how much of the law should die if part is found unconstitutional. It is one of four questions the justices will take up in four separate oral arguments scheduled for March 26-28 (Norman, 1/27).

Modern Healthcare: HHS Says High Court Can Kill Insurance Provisions Of Reform Law But Let Others Stand
If the Supreme Court decides that it must throw out the healthcare reform law's requirement that private individuals purchase insurance, then the court should also invalidate two provisions in the law that force insurers to offer coverage to almost anyone who wants to buy it, HHS says in a legal brief. However, HHS argued in a filing with the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday that the elimination of those three insurance provisions should not doom the rest of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which contains many provisions can stand on their own without the insurance mandate (Carlson, 1/27).

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