Republican Lawmakers' Brief to Supreme Court Signals Support for State-Led Health Care Reform

February 17, 2012

In what appears to be the GOP’s theme for future health care reform efforts, 43 Senate Republicans have urged the Supreme Court to strike down PPACA’s individual mandate on the grounds that it interferes with states’ rights.  The Senators' amicus curiae brief argues that the authority to enact a health insurance reform such as the individual mandate is a “classic exercise of a…power, which is constitutionally reserved to the states, not the federal government."  In their view, the states have much more authority to enact broad health insurance reforms.  For example, the brief points to the individual mandate under Massachusetts law arguing that “the federal government does not possess the state police power upon which Massachusetts claimed to base its requirement to purchase health insurance.”  Yet, turning over health care reform to the states would almost certainly interfere with uniform plan design and administration currently enjoyed by large employer-sponsored self-insured plans.