KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Legal Challenge To New Law Gets A Day In Court: Today

A federal judge will preside over a lawsuit in Florida challenging the legitimacy of the health law today, "as 20 states and an influential small-business group argue that the bill amounts to a sweeping constitutional overreach, Politico reports. "The states argue that the federal government cannot impose a requirement on individuals to purchase insurance, the so-called individual mandate, and then force them to pay a fine if they don't. The mandate takes effect in 2014. The National Federation of Independent Business is also part of the states' lawsuit, arguing that the mandate will force higher costs on small businesses. The Justice Department is asking the judge in Pensacola, Fla., to dismiss the lawsuit, saying enforcing the insurance mandate is within the rights of Congress to levy taxes on U.S. citizens" (9/14).

The News Service of Florida/Miami Herald: "The defendant, the U.S. Justice Department, counters that overturning the health care law would unduly expand judicial review of Congress and other government branches. More specially, the DOJ argues that Congress has the power to determine how federal money appropriated for Medicaid may be spent and can give states an option of setting up their own health exchanges or having the federal government do so." The lawsuit will be heard by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, a Reagan nominee (Laing, 9/14).

Health News Florida: "Regardless of Vinson's decisions, however, the case is likely years from being resolved. With the lawsuit's constitutional questions - and the high-profile, politically charged subject - it could wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court. … Another key part of the lawsuit argues that Congress infringed on the sovereignty of states. That contention stems, in part, from a requirement that Florida and other states expand Medicaid eligibility to include many low-income adults who have not been able to enroll in the past. The federal government will pay for all of the additional Medicaid costs from 2014 to 2016, with the federal share gradually declining to 90 percent in 2020. But the lawsuit contends that the law will still lead to 'staggering' new Medicaid costs for states, while effectively making them 'arms of the federal government.'" The Justice Department says Congress has in the past required Medicaid eligibility expansions before and that states can choose to not participate in Medicaid (Saunders, 9/13).

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