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Virginia Court of Appeals Hears Health Care Reform Law Arguments

by Leah Greene, JD, LLM on May 10th, 2011

Today, a three-judge panel for the Court of Appeals in Virginia heard arguments regarding whether the Affordable Care Act’s (also known as Obamacare) individual insurance mandate is unconstitutional. The three justices were chosen at random via computer program, and all three were appointed by Democratic presidents.

Two cases were at issue: Liberty University v. Geithner and Virginia v. Sebelius. At issue in each case is whether Congress overstepped its power to regulate commerce by requiring individuals to purchase health insurance coverage or pay a penalty. In Liberty University, the trial court upheld the mandate’s constitutionality. In Virginia, the trial court ruled the mandate was unconstitutional.

The court focused on Virginia’s standing to bring suit. In anticipation of the health care overhaul, Virginia passed a law protecting its residents from being compelled to buy insurance. The court implied that this basis for standing was questionable.

With respect to Liberty University’s opposition to the mandate, the court observed an individual’s choice to forgo health insurance coverage does not exclude him or her from the health care system. The court also noted that Congress has regulated health care through Medicare and Medicaid.

It is not known when the court will issue its decision. We will update this site when it does.

More information about the oral arguments can be found here and here.

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From → Health Law