September 13 2010
In the Northern District of Florida, the State of Florida, along with 19 other states, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and individual Plaintiffs Mary Brown and Kaj Ahlburg, have filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of the new health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Other states considered joining, but several Attorneys General in those other states have refused. Tomorrow Judge Roger Vinson will hear a Motion to Dismiss from the Defendants, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Labor.
This is the first hurdle for the plaintiffs. The judge's decision will make it possible for the case to continue - like what happened in Virginia when Judge Hudson ruled against the Motion to Dismiss - or it will dismiss the case.
The issues at stake in this case relate to state sovereignty, and specifically challenge the individual health insurance mandate provision of the PPACA. The Plaintiffs allege that the Act will take away control of the budgetary process and legislative agendas of each state, but will still force them to pay for the great costs of the reform. In their Amended Complaint, the Plaintiffs also discuss Article I of the Constitution and the Tenth Amendment, noting that a mandate that forces individuals to either have health insurance coverage or pay a penalty is unconstitutional and not within the power of the federal government.
Because the Plaintiffs in this case are states, they are especially concerned with the top-down unfunded mandates in the PPACA, which could change the voluntary nature of the federal-state relationship. The new costs to states from the PPACA could drive them to bankruptcy.
There have been more than 20 cases filed across the country in many district courts that challenge the constitutionality of the PPACA. The Florida case, along with the Virginia case, is the most high profile because of the involvement of so many Attorneys General representing so many states.
It's clear that state governments, small business leaders, and the American people are pushing back against this law in any way they know how. In the courts, the challenge is to demonstrate how the rights of individuals and states are being compromised in an unprecedented way. Tomorrow will tell how feasible or how difficult the legal road will be. Set your alarms - the arguments start at 9 am.