D.C. files brief in support of health-care law

January 17, 2012

The District has joined Maryland and 10 other states in petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold President Obama’s 2010 health-care reform law, arguing that federal authority includes the power to regulate individual behavior if it helps solve a problem.

“The crisis in our country’s healthcare system is a contemporary example of the type of intractable interstate problem for which the Framers adopted the Commerce Clause,” the brief states. “It is a problem with national scope and one that the states, acting alone, cannot fully address.”

Sometime this year,  many legal observers predict that the Supreme Court will rule on whether the provision in the bill requiring all adults to maintain health insurance in constitutional.  Twenty-six states, including Virginia,  are challenging the law.

In an opting to join the supporting brief, D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan positioned the heavily Democratic District squarely behind the law. Nathan noted that the brief also cites the “spiraling costs, limitations on the availability of insurance coverage and restricted access to medical services” as reasons why the new law should be left in place.   State-by-state reform efforts, the brief states,  “cannot fully counteract the force of inexorable national trends driven by problems that are fundamentally interstate in nature.”

 In addition to the District and Maryland, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and the U.S. Virgin Islands have signed onto the brief.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.
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