Today’s Health Care Court Cases

Today, judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Virginia will hear arguments in two cases challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. In the first case – Liberty University v. Geithner – a district judge previously found that the law was constitutional. In the second case – Commonwealth of Virginia v. Kathleen Sebelius – a different district judge issued a very narrow ruling on the constitutionality of the health reform law’s “individual responsibility” provision but upheld the rest of the law.  Both cases are today being argued on appeal.  

We’re confident that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Already, two additional judges have found the law to be constitutional. And the facts are on our side.

  • Those who claim that the “individual responsibility” provision exceeds Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce because it penalizes “inactivity” are simply wrong. Individuals who choose to go without health insurance are actively making an economic decision that affects all of us.
  • A new report released today from the Department of Health and Human Services makes clear that those without insurance struggle to pay for health care. According to the report, uninsured people cannot pay the full cost of 88 percent of their hospital bills.  Even the uninsured with the greatest income and assets cannot fully pay for half of their hospital bills. 

When people without insurance obtain health care they cannot pay for, those with insurance and taxpayers are often left to pick up the tab.

The Affordable Care Act requires everyone who can afford it to carry some form of health insurance.

  • For the 83% of Americans who have coverage and who are already taking responsibility for their health care, the Affordable Care Act will help insurance premiums to decrease over time.
  • Only those who are able to pay for health insurance will be responsible for obtaining it.
  • The Congressional Budget Office estimated that only 1 percent of all Americans would pay a penalty for not having health insurance in 2016. 

To lower the cost of health care for everyone, we have to stop making those who act responsibly pick up the health care tab for those who don’t – and that means we need everyone to be a part of the health insurance marketplace. Bringing everyone into the system will also enable us to finally ban discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions. Without the individual responsibility provision, people could wait until they’re sick or injured to apply for coverage since insurance companies could no longer say no or charge more.  That would lead to double digit premiums increases – up to 20% – for everyone in the individual insurance market.

We are confident the various cases regarding the law will be decided quickly, long before the law is scheduled to be fully implemented. And we are confident we will prevail.

Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor.
Related Topics: Health Care, Virginia
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