Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Attorney General Harris Backs Health Care Reform
By a MetNews Staff Writer
State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and her counterparts in seven other states have filed an amicus brief in the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asserting the legality of federal health care reform and urging the court to uphold the law, Harris said yesterday.
“The failure of millions of Americans to purchase health insurance has a significant impact on the states,” Harris said in a release. “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 eight attorneys general are supporting the federal government in its appeal from a ruling by a U.S. district judge in Richmond, Va. declaring last year’s health care law unconstitutional. The judge said the law’s requirement that individuals maintain health insurance or pay a fine is unconstitutional.
The attorneys general argued in the amicus brief that the Constitution gives Congress broad powers to regulate interstate commerce.
“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,” they said.
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, they asserted.
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 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit regarding the constitutionality of the law.
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