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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Joins Amicus Brief in Support of Health Care Reform Law

Thursday, July 7, 2011
Contact: (415) 703-5837

SACRAMENTO --- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has signed a friend-of-the court brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in support of the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“Health care reform saves lives, and that is why I am determined to protect this law,” Attorney General Harris said.

The filing comes one week after the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the constitutionality of the federal health care reform law in Thomas More Law Center v. Obama. It was the first federal appeals court ruling to address the constitutionality of the landmark health care law.

Attorney General Harris and nine other attorneys general argued in the brief that the Constitution grants Congress broad powers to regulate interstate commerce - and that the decision to purchase health insurance has a significant impact on interstate commerce because it allows the formation of risk pools, lowers health care costs nationally and reduces the cost of uncompensated care.

“The law strikes an appropriate, constitutional balance between federal and state authority over the health care system by creating federal requirements, backed by federal funding, to expand access to affordable coverage, while conferring considerable latitude to allow states to decide how best to design a system of federally-supported coverage that works well for their citizens,” the amicus brief states.

The failure of millions of Americans to purchase health insurance has a significant impact on the states. In 2009, more than 7.2 million Californians - nearly one in four people under the age of 65 - lacked insurance for all or part of the year. More than 5.5 million Californians who could not afford private health insurance are enrolled in government-sponsored health plans, which will cost the state a projected $42 billion in the next fiscal year.

The minimum coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act will reduce the need to shift the cost of uncompensated care of the uninsured - and will thus reduce the expenses now absorbed by the states and by individuals with health insurance.

Others joining California in this brief are Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, New York, Oregon and Vermont.

In January, the same group of attorneys general - except the District of Columbia - filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit arguing for the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act: http://oag.ca.gov/news/press_release?id=2032&p=3.

In March, those attorneys general filed an amicus brief supporting the law’s constitutionality in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit: http://oag.ca.gov/news/press_release?id=2047&p=3.

In April, the same states filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit supporting the constitutionality of the law: http://www.oag.ca.gov/news/press_release?id=2067

The D.C. case is Seven-Sky v. Holder, No. 11-5047, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

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