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Healthcare coalition files friend-of-the-court brief in appeal of Fla. ruling


By Joe Carlson
Posted: April 11, 2011 - 6:15 pm ET
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A coalition of six industry groups that say they represent virtually every hospital and health system in the country has filed a friend-of-the-court brief (PDF) with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta arguing that a judge in Pensacola, Fla., should not have struck down the year-old healthcare reform law.

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U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled Jan. 31 that the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was constitutionally invalid because Congress did not have the power to compel private individuals to purchase insurance. The ruling agreed with the arguments of officials from 26 states who said lawmakers were improperly trying to regulate the “economic inactivity” of the uninsured.

The Justice Department appealed that ruling to the 11th Circuit, arguing two legalistic points about Vinson's ideas regarding the regulation of economic activity in the Constitution's Commerce Clause and whether the individual mandate is “severable” from the entire ACA.

Meanwhile, the six healthcare groups—the American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Catholic Health Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, the National Association of Children's Hospitals, and the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems—filed an amicus brief April 8 arguing that the decision not to purchase insurance is actually activity, not inactivity.

“The vast majority of uninsured individuals are quite actively engaged in interstate commerce; they seek and receive tens of billions of dollars a year worth of healthcare services,” the brief said.


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