April 3, 2011
Government Files Opening Brief in Florida Health Reform Appeal
The government on Friday filed its opening brief in Florida v. HHS, the appeal before the Eleventh Circuit of Judge Vinson's (N.D. Fla.) ruling that federal health reform is unconstitutional. (Thanks to the ACA Litigation Blog for the link to the brief. Recall that Judge Vinson ruled that the individual health insurance mandate was unconstitutional, that it was not severable from the rest of the Affordable Health Act, and that the entire Act was therefore unconstitutional. Our last post on the case is here.)
The government's core arguments are by now familiar; there are no major surprises. There's just one new piece to the appeal, based on Judge Vinson's sweeping ruling: The government argues that his ruling that the entire Act is unconstitutional (because the individual mandate is not severable) goes too far, and that he fails to address several plaintiffs' lack of standing. (These arguments begin on page 55 of the brief.)
Here are the point-headings from the Table of Contents:
I. The Minimum Coverage Provision Is a Valid Exercise of Congress's Commerce Power.
A. The minimum coverage provision regulates the way people pay for health care services, a class of economic activity that substantially affects interstate commerce.
1. The minimum coverage provision regulates the practice of obtaining health care services without insurance, a practice that shifts substantial costs to other participants in the health care market.
2. The minimum coverage provision is essential to the Act's guaranteed-issue and community-rating insurance reforms.
B. The minimum coverage provision is a necessary and proper means of regulating interstate commerce.
1. The provision is plainly adapted to the unique conditions of the health care market.
2. Congress can regulate participants in the health care market even if they are not currently "active" in the insurance market.
II. The Minimum Coverage Provision Is Also Independently Authorized by Congress's Taxing Power.
III. The District Court Impermissibly Departed from Controlling Doctrine in Declaring the Affordable Care Act Invalid in Its Entirety and in Awarding Relief to Parties Without Standing.
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