Obama Administration Challenges Virginia’s Challenge to Reform

By Staff Report

Apr. 13, 2011

In a new filing in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, the Obama administration challenged the state of Virginia’s standing to sue the Department of Health & Human Services over the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The 50-page brief comes in response to an appeal by Virginia attorney general Kenneth Cuccinelli, who prevailed in the case challenging the reform law’s mandate for individuals to buy health insurance but appealed U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson’s conclusion that the rest of the law could stand without the mandate.

In the new filing, the U.S. Justice Department disputes Cuccinelli’s argument that Virginia had a claim against the government because state lawmakers passed legislation declaring its residents out of reach of the individual mandate. That thinking, the Obama administration argues, would allow states to legislate their residents out of Social Security or the obligation to be called into service under federal war powers.

The brief also restates the argument that the individual mandate is within the congressional power to regulate commerce. The mandate, the Obama administration argues, is aimed not at the passive decision not to buy insurance, but rather at the individual’s certain participation in the market for healthcare services, and the costs of treating the uninsured are shifted to the insured, healthcare providers, payers and governments.

Oral arguments are scheduled for May 10.   

Filed by Gregg Blesch of Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail


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