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Florida Lawsuit Could Cost California Billions of Health Care Dollars



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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A federal judge will hear oral arguments this month over whether the federal healthcare law is constitutional.

A prominent California conservative legal group believes the case could ultimately be decided on how health care is viewed by the public.

The lawsuit pits more than 20 states against the federal government, but the Florida federal judge hearing the case probably won't have the final say. The plaintiff states say requiring individuals to get health insurance is unconstitutional, while the Obama administration argues the mandate is covered under the Congressional commerce clause. Timothy Sandefur is with the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation. He says the federal government could win out in the Supreme Court if the individual mandate is seen as a small regulation made for the greater good. 

"On the other hand, if this is presented as a violation of individual rights that dramatically undoes the Constitutions protections against extensive government, there's a better chance for the plaintiff's to win," Sandefur says.

The health law has no severability clause, and many conservatives like Sandefur believe that if one component is struck down, the entire act will be thrown out.

"The Government's Commerce Clause argument is predicated on the idea that the individual mandate is absolutely essential to the law. So, for them then to turn around and say but, if the mandate is struck down, the rest of it is okay, sounds inconsistent," Sandefur says.

California has rapidly implemented key components of the health care overhaul.

If the law is overturned, millions of Californians would again be ineligible for Medi-Cal and other coverages in 2014, and the state would lose billions of federal dollars.

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