KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Virginia Attorney General, Governor Talk Health Reform Mandate; Missouri Vote Still Reverberating

News outlets covered various aspects of health care politics.

NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday interviewed Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli about the state's challenge to the federal government's health law requiring people to purchase health insurance. Cuccinelli said a judge that refused to throw out his case "did not say it's unconstitutional. But he did say that this legislation goes farther than anything that has been held constitutional under the Commerce Clause and it goes farther than anything that has been held constitutional under the taxing power before. So we know that we are in constitutional Never Neverland, but we don't know whether or not they will agree with Virginia that in fact this is an unconstitutional exercise of power by the federal government" (Hansen, 8/8).

The Wall Street Journal: In the meantime, Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, interviewed along with Gov. Jennifer Granholm, D-Mich., said Sunday on CNN that "he would consider backing a state measure requiring residents to carry health insurance, even though he's fighting a federal requirement to do the same." There is no such measure in the state legislature, but McDonnell said such a mandate "might be acceptable under the state's constitution. But he said the federal government mandate exceeds the scope of its powers granted under the Constitution" (Adamy, 8/8).

CNN: "[McDonnell] added, 'if the federal government can use the Commerce Clause to tell the citizens of Virginia or Michigan or any other state that they must buy a good or a service and if they don't, they're going to get fined, then there's virtually no limits to federal power. I think this is really - this has more to do with constitutional authority of the federal government than it does with health care.'"  

"Asked about continued public opposition to her party's health care law as November's midterm elections approach, Granholm said that doing away with the insurance industry's ability to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions was 'good policy'" (Stewart, 8/8).

The Washington Post: Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello, a Democrat, is busy fielding questions from constituents on health reform during the August congressional recess, a sharp contrast from last year's town hall meetings. "Catcalls about socialism and death panels have given way to substantive and pointed questions - about the intricacies of the new health-care law" and other issues (Tumulty, 8/8).

Meanwhile, the vote in Missouri on a ballot measure challenging the individual mandate - scheduled to take effect in 2014 - continues to reverberate.

Kansas City Star/McClatchy: "Republicans across the country are gleefully rubbing their hands this week, convinced that Missouri's thunderous opposition to a key part of health care reform is fully exportable this fall. ... Missouri GOP executive director Lloyd Smith called it a turning point of the midterm elections, adding that GOP voter intensity is 'through the roof. I've never seen it that high.' Democrats and health care supporters, stung by the lopsided Prop C outcome, spent the week trying to regroup. A key part of their strategy: explaining health care reform to voters" (Helling and Kraske, 8/7).

Politico: Tommy Sowers, a Democrat running for Congress in Missouri's 8th district, is one of an estimated "thousands of Democrats who voted in favor of a ballot initiative Tuesday that rejects a prominent provision in the federal health care overhaul. ... 'I voted for Prop. C because I was never in favor of the individual mandate aspect of the health insurance reform,' Sowers told POLITICO Friday. 'Its constitutionality and frankly, the constitutionality of Prop. C, will be debated in the courts, but I think it will, and should be, in Congress, where this will be ultimately fixed'" (Catanese, 8/6).

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