U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson appears to be inclined to let plaintiffs move ahead with a suit arguing that the Affordable Care Act package violates states’ Constitutional rights.
Vinson has been hearing oral arguments at the U.S. District Court in Pensacola, Fla., on whether he ought to dismiss the case, State of Florida et al. vs. United States Department of Health and Human Services et al., Case 3:10-cv-00091-RV-EMT.
The plaintiffs are officials from 20 states and the National Federation of Independent Business, Nashville, Tenn.
The defendants include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. Labor Department, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
Vinson is supposed to make an official decision about the status of the case by Oct. 14. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has said he believes the judge has indicated that he already has decided against dismissing the suit, according to press reports.
The Obama administration has argued that the government needed to create the Affordable Care Act, the package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), to tackle a situation in which care is more expensive than in the rest of the world, some have no health coverage, and competition among private health insurers is dwindling. They say
the government must require individuals to own health insurance or pay a penalty tax to prevent antiselection.
The plaintiffs in the State of Florida suit say the individual health insurance ownership mandate is unconstitutional, and that the government is commandeering state resources to force a massive expansion of the Medicaid program.
“The federal health care act exceeds the powers granted to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution and tramples on our Founding Fathers’ notion of federalism,” McCollum says in a statement. “It is an egregious violation of individual liberty and limited government. If the federal government is allowed to implement the individual mandate requiring citizens to have health insurance or pay a penalty, there is essentially no limit to what government can force citizens to purchase.”
The act also saddles the states with a financial burden that they do not want and cannot afford, McCollum says.
If implemented, the act will force states either to expand Medicaid or opt out of the program altogether, McCollum says.