By: Anthony Resnick
On July 1st, a federal district court in Richmond will hear arguments in Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's attempt to block implementation of the health care reform signed into law in March. At a time when the country's economic woes are causing record-breaking revenue loss in Virginia, leading to massive budget cuts in areas such as health care and education, Cuccinelli is spending commonwealth resources on a futile attempt to block health care reform. Cuccinelli cannot succeed in this lawsuit, since his suit has no merit. Nor should he succeed, since health care reform will benefit millions of Virginians.
The most important point to make about Cuccinelli's lawsuit is that he seeks to undermine a law that's going do a lot of good for a lot of Virginians. The reform will ensure affordable coverage for 1.2 million Virginians who are currently uninsured. Nearly 700,000 Virginians will receive tax credits to make health care coverage more affordable. Nearly 100,000 small businesses in Virginia will receive tax credits to make coverage for their employees more affordable. The bill also ends the most abusive practices of insurance companies, such as discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions or driving people to bankruptcy with high out-of-pocket costs, thus providing important protections to all Virginians.
But even if Cuccinelli were correct in his aims, the lawsuit he is filing is destined to fail. The consensus among legal scholars is that the health care reform law fits firmly within the federal government's powers to regulate interstate commerce and to tax and spend for the general welfare. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aucqH8ldfd.M Cuccinelli claims that his lawsuit is grounded in a Virginia law that forbids Congress from requiring Virginians to purchase health insurance. But the Constitution is clear that when Congress acts pursuant to powers granted to it by the Constitution, federal laws are superior to state laws. Since Congress acted within powers granted to it by the Constitution when it passed health care reform, the law Cuccinelli seeks to enforce is unconstitutional. Cuccinelli's attempt to challenge health care reform has drawn sharp criticism from both liberal and conservative legal scholars. Charles Fried, solicitor general under Ronald Reagan, told NPR that efforts such as Cuccinelli's to block health care reform are "preposterous." Says Fried, "One is left speechless by the absurdity of it." http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125039441&ps=cprs
Thus, Cuccinelli is spending commonwealth resources towards a goal that is both undesirable and unattainable. The most likely outcome is that the courts will throw out the lawsuit as lacking merit, and it will merely be a waste of time and money. The worst case scenario is that Cuccinelli's lawsuit will actually succeed, and Virginians will be denied that benefit of the historic effort to fix our health care system and provide health insurance to all.