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Statement by Simon Lazarus on the Virginia Health Care Ruling

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 Hospital News J E 4
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The follow is a statement by Simon Lazarus on the Virginia Health Care Ruling, Public Policy Counsel, Federal Rights Project, National Senior Citizens Law Center:

The decision today of U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson that the State of Virginia has standing to argue in court its claims against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is purely procedural, and not a ruling on the merits of its attack on the ACA's shared participation provision. This decision means that there will be additional proceedings to sort out the facts bearing on Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli's substantive arguments against the ACA requirement that persons who can afford it carry health insurance.  

Along with the overwhelming weight of judicial precedent and expert opinion, including prominent conservative experts, we at the National Senior Citizens Law Center are confident that Cuccinelli's case will ultimately be dismissed.  

Attorney General Cuccinelli's claims would pose a particularly devastating threat to older Americans, especially the nearly half of all adults between the ages of 55 and 64 who suffer from a pre-existing medical condition.   The ACA bars insurers from denying coverage to persons with pre-existing conditions, but this vital safeguard simply cannot work without a shared responsibility provision.  

As shown in an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief submitted in the Virginia case by the National Senior Citizens Law Center and the Center for American Progress, on behalf of the March of Dimes and sixteen other patient and health advocacy organizations, the ACA's shared participation requirement targeted by the Cuccinelli lawsuit "is essential to make effective a prohibition on exclusion from coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions."  The brief recounts the experience of states attempting to guarantee insurance access for persons with pre-existing conditions, which demonstrates that, without a shared responsibility requirement like that prescribed in Massachusetts and in the ACA, standalone pre-existing conditions protection will cause premium rates to skyrocket.

For the overwhelming majority of Americans who already have insurance protection through private plans or government programs, the shared responsibility provision provides essential financial protection, because the provision will prevent the shifting of $43 billion in annual costs – nearly $1,000 per individual annual premium costs – from uninsured patients to other participants in the system.

The National Senior Citizens Law Center is the only U.S. organization principally dedicated to protecting the rights of low income older adults. Through litigation, advocacy and education of advocates nationwide, the NSCLC makes the law work for the country's most vulnerable seniors and persons with disabilities. NSCLC has offices in Washington, DC, Oakland and Los Angeles, CA.  NSCLC's Public Policy Counsel Simon Lazarus speaks and writes frequently on the constitutionality of health reform, including an issue brief authored for the American Constitution Society, "Mandatory Health Insurance: Is it Constitutional?"  For more information, visit www.nsclc.org.

SOURCE National Senior Citizens Law Center

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