Although President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law , the battle against the federal takeover of health care is far from over. To the contrary, states continue to fight against the vast overreach of Washington marked by the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which impedes states’ abilities to enact their own health care reform or continue existing programs.
One of the first to arrive on the battlefield against the President’s health bill was Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. As we highlighted last week, constitutionality is at the heart of Cuccinelli’s battle against Obamacare’s individual mandate, which requires all Americans to purchase a level of health insurance deemed acceptable by the federal government, or else pay a penalty. But in March, Virginia passed its own statute protecting Virginians from having to comply with such a mandate, which serves as the backbone to Cuccinelli’s case against Washington.
In an exclusive interview with Heritage’s Rob Bluey, Cuccinelli explained, “I don’t think in my lifetime we’ve seen one statute that so erodes liberty than this health care bill. Certainly, we view our lawsuit as being not merely about health care. That’s actually secondary to the real important aspect of the case, and that is to protect the Constitution as we essentially define the outer limits of federal power. If we lose, it’s very much the end of federalism as we’ve known it for over 220 years.”
In response to Cuccinelli’s lawsuit, the federal government has claimed that the individual mandate to purchase insurance is indeed constitutional, pointing to the clause which allows Congress to regulate interstate commerce. According to Heritage legal experts, however, this argument does not hold. “…[T]he mandate to purchase health insurance is not proposed as a means to the regulation of interstate commerce; nor does it regulate or prohibit activity in either the health insurance or health care industry. Indeed, the health care mandate does not purport to regulate or prohibit activity of any kind, whether economic or noneconomic. By its own plain terms, the individual mandate provision regulates no action.” Moreover, in order for the individual mandate to find justification in the Commerce Clause, the Supreme Court would have to rule that it is limitless, a notion which has been rejected in the past.
As the case moves forward, oral arguments on the case are expected to be heard in July. And Virginia is not the only state carrying forth the torch in the ongoing battle against Obamacare. Twenty other states, with the addition of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), have also joined forces to file lawsuit against the mandate. Though Obamacare has passed, the battle against it, the outcome of which Heritage expert Bob Moffit writes is far from determined, may have just begun.