Cuccinelli health reform challenge labeled 'extremist'

Opponents of Virginia's challenge to the healthcare reform law pointed out how killing the legislation would hurt Americans.

"Today we saw political extremism and requested judicial activism run amok to the potential harm of families across America," Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said in a teleconference following today's hearing in the case of Virginia v. Sebelius, Virginia's challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli attacked only one provision--the individual mandate that requires everyone to obtain coverage--in the Affordable Care Act and yet sought to strike the entire statute, Pollack said. If the attorney general had his way, none of the provisions of the healthcare reform law would be implemented, Pollack added, calling today's argument in the courtroom "a classic case of judicial advocacy chutzpah."

Cuccinelli apparently is trying to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Young adults would not be allowed to stay on their parents' policy up to age 26. Small businesses would not get tax credits to help afford coverage for their workers. Senior citizens would not have gotten help covering the Medicare Part D donut hole or coverage gap.

"If Virginia loses this fight and the federal government is allowed to cross this line, Congress will be granted unlimited power to require you to purchase anything," Cuccinelli told reporters after the hearing, according to Politico.

Pollack said the judge did not appear inclined to strike the whole statute for the attorney general. When pressed on this, he said that at one point during the hearing, the attorney representing Cuccinelli said that he did not think the legislation would have ultimately passed without the individual mandate provision. He went on to cite the small margins by which the reform passed. The judge interrupted him, telling him that he seemed to be able to divine what Congress would have done better than the judge could. The judge is expected to rule by the end of the year on the Virginia case.

This is one of many cases with regard to the healthcare reform law filed around the country. Three cases have been dismissed. In federal district court in Michigan, the claim was thrown out on substantive merits of the claim. In California and Maryland federal district courts, the cases were dismissed on procedural grounds. Here in Virginia..."Attorney General Cuccinelli probably put his track shoes on the moment the president signed the bill and filed a case," Pollack said.

Despite the broad attack in which governors and attorneys general in many states have filed challenges to the law, Pollack seemed optimistic about the law's survival. As long as President Obama is in the White House, the chance that key elements of the reform will be eviscerated is unlikely, he said.

John Arensmeyer, CEO of Small Business Majority, a small business advocacy group, noted that striking down the healthcare reform law would hurt many small businesses. Owners are interested in learning more about the tax credits they could get, he said.

Jennifer Mishory, deputy director of Young Invincibles, an organization that represents young adults, said that young adults stand to gain a lot from reform. Of health coverage, she said, "Most want it, but can't get it."

Families USA, Small Business Majority and Young Invincibles were  all signatories to friends of the court briefs in today's case.

To learn more:
- read this Politico story
- read the Fox News story

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