Florida, Virginia AGs make case against individual mandate

A pair of attorneys general challenging the new healthcare reform law made their case in separate op-eds Friday morning, wrapping up a busy week in the legal fight over the healthcare overhaul. 

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who’s leading a 20-state lawsuit challenging the reform law’s individual mandate, and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who led the first successful challenge against the mandate, explained their positions in The Washington Post.

Oral arguments were held yesterday for the 20-state lawsuit — also filed by the National Federation of Independent Business — contending that Congress does not have the constitutional power to compel individuals to purchase health insurance, which the reform law requires by 2014. On Monday, a federal judge in Virginia became the first to strike down the individual mandate, reaching a decision opposite of two federal judges in the past few months.

Cuccinelli criticized the Justice Department’s decision not to fast-track its appeal of the Virginia ruling to the Supreme Court.

“There is simply too much at stake to allow final resolution to be unnecessarily delayed,” Cuccinelli said. “There is financial uncertainty for state governments, employers and citizens inherent in not knowing whether the law will still exist two years from now."

Both attorneys general called the individual mandate an overreach that would set a dangerous precedent for future action by Congress.

“If Congress has the power to force Americans to buy goods and services, where is the limit?” McCollum wrote.