AGs Make another Filing in Support of Health Reform Law

March 9, 2011 ( – Attorneys general of nine states have filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, strongly asserting the legality of federal health care reform and urging the court to uphold the law.

“The law strikes an appropriate – and constitutional – balance between national requirements that will expand access to affordable healthcare while providing States with flexibility to design programs that achieve that goal for their citizens,” the amicus brief states, according to a news release from California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris.

In December, a federal judge in Virginia ruled that the law’s requirement that individuals maintain health insurance or pay a fine is unconstitutional (see Feds to Appeal HCR Challenge Ruling). The brief rejects that view, arguing that the Constitution gives Congress broad powers to regulate interstate commerce. 

The news release said the failure of millions of Americans to purchase health insurance has a significant impact on the states. In 2008, the cost of uncompensated care was $43 billion nationally. In California, the annual cost of covering the health care expenses of the uninsured is $455 per individual and $1,186 per family.

The new law’s minimum coverage provision will reduce the need to shift the cost of uncompensated care of the uninsured – and will thus reduce the expenses absorbed by the states and by individuals with health insurance.

The brief notes that the Affordable Care Act does not “commandeer the states to implement a federal program” but rather provides them with important tools to cooperate in order to provide their citizens with access to affordable and reliable health care.

Other states joining California in this brief are Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, New York, Oregon and Vermont.

In January, the same group of attorneys general filed an amicus brief in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (see State AGs Back HCR in Appellate Court Brief).