Deal, Olens Welcome Supreme Court Health Care Review

Forum Editor Mike Klein

Governor Nathan Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens issued strong statements on Monday in support of overturning federal health care reform, just a few hours after the U.S. Supreme Court said it will review  legislation that became law 20 months ago.

Olens said the Supreme Court hearing scheduled for early next year is “a crucial step in our long fight to reign in the federal government’s unconstitutional over-reach into the healthcare marketplace.”  Deal’s statement recognized “the fight against the crippling mandates of Obamacare,” which has become a popular term for federal health care reform.

Governor Nathan Deal

Georgia is among 26 states that sued President Barack Obama’s administration to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which became law in March 2010.  The central and dominant point of contention is whether the federal government individual mandate that could require that each American purchase health insurance or face financial penalties starting in 2014.

Governor Deal said, “Obamacare would vastly expand our state’s Medicaid enrollment, creating a huge new tax burden on Georgia taxpayers. Frankly, our state can’t afford these new unfunded mandates, and what we’re seeing is that the majority of states feel the same way. The outcome of this case is hugely important to the future of Georgia, and we have high hopes for a favorable decision from the Supreme Court next year.”

During his State of the State address in January Deal said the federal health care law would add 650,000 Georgians to state Medicaid rolls, costing $2.5 billion in new state expense over ten years.  “It’s appropriate and expected that the court would rule on an issue so central to Americans’ individual liberties. As governor, I’m especially happy to see the court look into whether the federal government can force state governments to take on huge new spending programs.”

Attorney General Sam Olens

Olens outlined the scope of the Supreme Court review:  “The Court has agreed to review whether the individual mandate exceeds the limited powers of Congress; whether the individual mandate, if unconstitutional, can be struck down on its own or whether the whole law must fall; whether the federally mandated expansion of Medicaid exceeds Congress’s powers under the Spending Clause of the Constitution; and whether the Anti-Injunction Act affects the Court’s jurisdiction to hear the challenge to the individual mandate.”

The timetable established by the Court – arguments in February or March and a decision likely in June – means the justices will deliver their opinion before Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions, and months before November 2012 national elections that could become a referendum on the expansion of federal government ala the health care model.

Petitions and briefs are posted on the U.S. Supreme Court website.

Four federal appellate courts have heard Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act cases.  The Supreme Court accepted the case that came through Atlanta’s 11th Circuit Court of Appeals where justices ruled the individual mandate provision is unconstitutional.

Opponents include the National Federation of Independent Business, a small business group, and states that argue the law’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility will become a budget buster.  Medicaid expenses are the single fastest growing segment of the Georgia state budget.

Supporters counter argue that reform — sometimes known as Obamacare — will make health care more accessible to millions of Americans.  Some supporters consider the measure to be as historic as the creation of Social Security, Medicare and the Civil Rights Act.

Federal appellate courts in Cincinnati and Washington upheld the law.  One in Richmond, Virginia declined to rule because the individual mandate provision is not in force until 2014.



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