Richmond, VA – Health care consumers and advocates expressed their disappointment in Judge Henry Hudson’s decision on the constitutionality of so-called mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. After refusing to dismiss Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s health care lawsuit in July and October, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson allowed the lawsuit to move forward today. Judge Henry Hudson ruled that theConstitution’s commerce clause gives Congress the power to regulate economic activity, but not to regulate economic inactivity.
To date, fourteen judges have heard challenges to the Affordable Care Act and all have dismissed these meritless cases. Two weeks ago U.S. District Judge Norman Moon in Lynchburg dismissed the Liberty University case against the Affordable Care Act, concluding that Congress “acted in accordance with its Constitutionally delegated powers under the Commerce Clause when it passed the employer and individual coverage provisions.”
Community members and advocates have spoken out against the Attorney General’s attempts to block the health care law over the last year. Virginia Organizing filed an amicus brief in the October hearing on the constitutionality of the law. Since passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Virginia Organizing has been educating the public on what the national health care law will mean for Virginians. Community members are disappointed that Judge Henry Hudson is allowing Virginia to be the first state to allow this meritless case to move forward.
Dr. Chris Lillis, M.D., Fredericksburg Physician and member of the Virginia Organizing Health Care Reform Committee (540-538-8595):
"Judge Hudson's decision is disappointing, and is clearly outside of the legal opinions of several other courts who have recently rejected lawsuits brought against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Commerce Clause gives the Congress broad authority to regulate commerce, and as such the PPACA is most certainly constitutional. Judge Hudson has only provided fuel to Mr. Cuccinelli's fire — wasting Virginia tax dollars in an effort to continue his political grandstanding — which will only hurt Virginians who deserve access to quality and affordable health care.”
Jim Lindsay, Virginia Organizing Health Care Reform Committee (202-285-7727):
“This law ultimately provides desperately needed coverage to a million uninsured Virginians and critically needed consumer protections to all Virginians. The Attorney General's suit represents an egregious waste of scarce state resources and a threat to the rights of the very consumers he was elected to protect. Worst of all, neither he, nor the governor, has proposed any alternative solutions for the insurance quagmire that wreaks havoc on the lives of ordinary Virginians every day. It’s time to stand up for a law that is already protecting Virginians. We implore the Attorney General to focus on battles that benefit consumers, rather than undermine us.”
Amy Koons, 35-Year-Old Chesapeake resident and late stage Lyme Disease sufferer:
“Several years ago I was diagnosed with late stage Lyme Disease and my insurer Anthem would not cover several of the treatments that I needed to get better, most importantly IV anti-biotics, which has been proven the most effective treatment. I have racked up thousands of dollars of medical debt and went from having a great career to living in poverty, all because of our broken health care system. Now, I am unable to work due to my condition and my COBRA will run out in July. Then I will be left without insurance and I have a pre-existing condition that will prohibit me from finding affordable insurance,” said Amy Koons of Chesapeake.
“The Affordable Care Act may be the only chance I have to get affordable health care in the future. The law will prevent insurance companies from denying patients due to pre-existing conditions and will not allow insurers to try to drop you if you get sick. These are two provisions that would have helped me tremendously when I first became ill. Now Attorney General Cuccinelli wants to take away the health care law so that people in my situation, will again have no recourse. He should be fighting for consumers like me and it seems like all he is doing is fighting against consumers like me.”
Timothy Jost, Robert Willett Family Professor of Law at the Washington and Lee University Law School (540-421-1529):
“The Justice Department has won 14 cases challenging the Affordable Care Act and has now finally lost one. Judge Hudson has effectively rewritten the Commerce Clause, which nowhere contains the word ‘activity.’ In the other major commerce clause cases of the 20th century, Wickard and Raich, the party challenging the statute claimed to be outside of the stream of commerce, but the Supreme Court held that the party nevertheless had an effect on interstate commerce. The decision not to insure is not ‘inactivity,’ as Judges Moon and Steeh have already held. It is a decision that results in the transfer of billions of dollars in costs annually. It is commerce, and Congress can regulate it. Fortunately, Judge Hudson only entered a declaratory judgment, and held that the provision was severable from all of other provisions of the law that are directly dependent on it and make specific reference to it. There are no such provisions.”
Janie Williams, 22 year old UVA Graduate who will benefit from the law: “Thanks to the health care law, young adults like me can stay on a parent's plan until they turn 26. I am thankful that the bill passed and that I am now back on my parents’ plan,” said Williams. “I cannot imagine why the Attorney General would be working so hard to deny me health care.”
Rabbi Ben Romer, Richmond
“It is with deep disappointment that I learn of Judge Hudson's ruling. From a faith perspective this decision exhibits a complete lack of moral compass. From Jewish, Christian and Muslim scripture the government is always responsible to assure for the welfare of its citizens. No more important welfare is present than the health and wellness of all Americans. As such, there is a religious imperative as well as American spiritual value, to provide access for every American- and to assure that every American a part of the process. Attempting to prevent such health care is essentially immoral and un-American.”
Virginia Organizing is a statewide grassroots organization that brings people together to create a more just Virginia.