Thursday, December 16, 2010

“Health Reform Will Survive Legal Challenge"

A federal judge on Monday ruled that the individual mandate found in the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional, claiming that Congress could not require people to purchase coverage under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. In a Washington Post Op-ed,  Eric Holder and Kathleen Sebelius respond by arguing that the individual mandate is the only way to ensure coverage for folks with preexisting conditions and to prevent those with insurance from having to pay for those without.
Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, opponents have waged nearly 20 challenges to the law, and already 12 have been dismissed. As Attorney General Holder and Secretary Sebelius point out, a successful legal challenge would further damage America’s health care system.
The majority of Americans who have health insurance pay a higher price because of our broken system. Every insured family pays an average of $1,000 more a year in premiums to cover the care of those who have no insurance.
Challengers of this law essentially argue that families with health insurance should be responsible for paying the health care bills of those without – a reality that belies principles of fairness.
Americans should pay for insurance if they can afford it. That's important because when people who don't have insurance show up at emergency rooms, we don't deny them care. The costs of this uncompensated care - $43 billion in 2008 - are then passed on to doctors, hospitals, small businesses and Americans who have insurance.
Additionally, individuals with preexisting conditions deserve health care coverage to help treat their sickness. The only way to make certain that’s possible is by ensuring that everyone has coverage.
Imagine what would happen if everyone waited to buy car insurance until after they got in an accident. Premiums would skyrocket, coverage would be unaffordable, and responsible drivers would be priced out of the market.
Everyone wants health care to be affordable and available when they need it. But we have to stop imposing extra costs on people who carry insurance, and that means everyone who can afford coverage needs to carry minimum health coverage starting in 2014.
The Affordable Care Act has been defended by government officials, legal scholars, and even President Reagan’s Solicitor General, Charles Fried, who stated that, “The health care law’s enemies have no ally in the Constitution.” All of whom believe that the Affordable Care Act falls well within Congress’s power to regulate economic activity under the Commerce Clause.
While these challenges are likely to persist, Attorney General Holder and Secretary Sebelius believe that the time and energy spent battling health reform could be better used in other ways.
Rather than fighting to undo the progress we've made, and returning to the days when one out of seven Americans was denied insurance due to their medical histories, supporters of repeal should work with us to implement this law effectively. The initial decisions about the Affordable Care Act will be reviewed on appeal. We are confident that the law will ultimately be upheld.
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