If you are the HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the answer is apparently “No.”, or at least so she asserts in a motion to dismiss responding to Virginia’s suit against the Great HealthCare Takeover of 2010:
Commerce Clause, Commerce Clause. How we love thee. You can make every issue a federal one. Even when that nasty old Tenth Amendment says that it isn’t a federal issue.
Virginia’s Republican attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Richmond less than eight hours after Congress enacted the law. It argues that requiring people to buy health coverage or pay a fee exceeds federal powers limited by the Constitution’s 10th Amendment.
Well gee. Buying something is commerce, and eventually all commerce somehow has a national impact right? Therefore it must be a federal issue.
More than a dozen state attorneys general have sued over the legislation on broadly similar grounds in cases that are likely be determined by the Supreme Court.
The conservative attorney general sued in defense of a Virginia law enacted this winter that exempts state residents from being required to have health coverage.
Sebelius argues in her dismissal motion, however, that Virginia lacks the standing to sue.
“A state cannot … manufacture its own standing to challenge a federal law by simple expedient of passing a statute purporting to nullify it,” read the motion. “Otherwise, a state could import almost any political or policy dispute into federal court by enacting its side of the argument into state law.”
Sebelius also contends that the new law, passed solely by the ruling Democrats in Congress and signed by a Democratic president, is constitutional.
“Even if Virginia could surmount this jurisdictional barrier, its claim still would fail because Congress, in adopting the minimum coverage provision, acted well within its authority under the Commerce Clause,” the motion says.
The mandate for most U.S. residents to carry health insurance starting in 2014 is at the heart of the federal law’s goal of medical coverage for all. Without it, the Justice Department explains in the filing, the new law – and its efforts to contain costs – becomes moot.
“When accidents or illnesses inevitably occur, the uninsured still receive medical assistance, even if they cannot pay. As Congress documented, such uncompensated health care costs – $43 billion in 2008 – are passed on to the other participants in the health care market: the federal government, state and local governments, health care providers, insurers, and the insured population,” the motion says.
It is as elegant as an M.C. Escher drawing. The Feds pass laws requiring that hospitals provide emergency care, then, because of the cost of the care they mandate, decide that every American must pay for coverage that it approves of in order to help defray the costs of the care that they mandated…and all with nary a serious thought to their authority to be involved in mandating the care to begin with. Logic like that isn’t worthy of characterization as a mobius strip…no, no…it is better than that. It is an Escher drawing!