State biz group supports health care challenge

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 139 views 

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas has joined a legal effort to challenge the controversial federal healthcare reform act, but the move is more about seeking an answer to a “narrow position” rather than a judgment on the need for healthcare reform.

The chamber and AIA has joined 14 other state chambers and business organizations in filing an amicus brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments March 26-28 in the case, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, et al v. the State of Florida, et al.

Approved in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is designed to expand access to health insurance, reform the health insurance market to provide additional consumer protections, and improve the health care delivery system to reduce costs and produce better outcomes. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the coverage provisions in the bill will cost $848 billion over 10 years (fiscal years 2010-2019). However, the major provisions in the bill would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2014, meaning the bill uses 10 years of revenue to pay for six years of coverage. Also, the uninsured with a pre-existing condition can get insurance and will allow retirees maintain coverage.
The amicus brief requests that the constitutionality of the federal health care law passed in 2010 be decided without delay in order to relieve uncertainties now facing employers and their employees, according to the chamber statement issued Wednesday (Mar. 21).

Randy Zook, president and CEO of the State Chamber/AIA, said there was no opposition on the chamber or AIA boards to join the legal effort.

Zook provided this explanation in the statement: “The constitutionality of the law as passed has been questioned, as have a number of the provisions it contains. As a result, businesses do not have a clear understanding of what will be required of them in the future and – as importantly – what that will cost. Companies are delaying hiring decisions at a time when we need to be putting people back to work in order to restore our economy. The sooner a clear path forward is defined the sooner employers will be able to make those decisions.”
The filed amicus brief contains two primary arguments. First, that despite arguments to the contrary, the U.S. Anti-Injunction Act does not bar the Supreme Court from ruling on the constitutionality of the individual insurance mandate at the center of the federal health care law; and, second, that delaying a ruling will create a costly and harmful burden on American businesses.

Zook said the need for healthcare reform is a “totally separate issue” from the chamber and AIA decision to support a speedy resolution to the legal challenges facing the existing law.

The other signing organizations are:
Florida Chamber of Commerce
Georgia Chamber of Commerce
Illinois Chamber of Commerce
Indiana Chamber of Commerce
Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Michigan Chamber of Commerce
Ohio Chamber of Commerce
State Chamber of Oklahoma
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
South Carolina Chamber of Commerce
Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Texas Association of Business
Association of Washington Business
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce

The federal law has faced numerous challenges since its enactment, to include a high-profile December 2010 ruling from U.S. District Court (Virginia) Judge Henry Hudson who a portion of the new health care law is unconstitutional in that it “exceeds” the power of Congress to require Americans to purchase a product.