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Health Reform Advocates Make Voices Heard In Federal Court Case

In case you missed it, Friday was the last day for people with something to say about the new federal health law to file briefs in the huge multistate lawsuit in Florida challenging its constitutionality.

Since so many winning Republicans ran on, among other things, opposition to the law, it’s not a huge shock that many of those so-called amicus filings came from prominent GOPers seeking to add their two cents to the charge that the law exceeded Congress’ authority.

By Friday afternoon, Judge Roger Vinson in U.S. District Court in Pensacola, Fla., had approved the filing of amicus briefs by soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner, a group of GOP Senators led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and outgoing GOP Govs. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Donald Carcieri of Rhode Island, among others.

But far less attention has been paid to those who are filing briefs in support of the law. We waded through them, and here are some you might find worth a look.

First up, a group of 35 economists, including three Nobel laureates, who say they have an interest in “assisting the Court in its understanding of the underlying economics that are at the heart of the minimum coverage provisions” of the law.

How do they want to help? Well, the economists want to make sure Judge Vinson understands that, despite the claims of the law’s opponents that requiring individuals to carry health insurance could lead to unprecedented federal intrusion in people’s lives, “the unique economics of health care distinguish it from virtually every other business and demonstrate that upholding the constitutionality of that provision will not serve as a basis for unlimited expansion of the federal government’s powers.”

Also set to file a brief in favor of the mandate is a collection of hospital groups that includes the American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, National Association of Children’s Hospitals and the Catholic Health Association of the U.S.

The hospitals argue they’ll be able to inform the judge that the uninsured do consume health care. And one guess where. Yes, often from these groups’ facilities, and often without being able to pay for it.

Their brief will explain:

[H]ow the decision made by some uninsured Americans to delay or forgo routine preventive care actually increases the amount, and the cost, of the care they need when an avoidable illness eventually brings them to the hospital.

The next hearing in the case is set for Dec. 16.

This is one of KHN’s “Short Takes” – brief items in the news. For the latest from KHN, check out our News section.


KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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