Just the start of the legal process…

After several legal challenges to the new federal health reform earlier had been dismissed earlier this year, and other judges have upheld the constitutionality of the new federal law, another federal judge in Virginia ruled today on the Affordable Care Act, declaring one provision around “individual responsibility” as unconstitutional, but rejecting the plaintiff’s request to strike down the entire law.

Multiple judges have dismissed challenges to the federal law, and upheld it as constitutional, and we have confidence that will be the case when all the litigation is complete. As the Virginia judge said, ‘the final word will undoubtedly reside with a higher court,’ in the months and years ahead.

For Californians, we’ve seen this before: The groundbreaking Healthy San Francisco law was challenged by a lower court ruling, but was eventually upheld on appeals all the way through the Supreme Court. While the legal issues were different, we expect a similar result–that the health reform law will be upheld and California will be able to get the new options and benefits from the law.

What’s important for patients to know is that the consumer protections under the new federal law are still in place, and are unchallenged.

In fact, even this judge rejected arguments to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act, and focused on just the requirement of individuals to have coverage. Even if this provision is struck down, it is fixable with other alternative policies to encourage people to get and keep coverage,

The implementation of the new federal law will and should continue, especially in California, where we need all the help with our health system we can get.

There’s more context from the New York Times, Associated Press, the White House blog, Ezra Klein’s blog, Jonathan Cohn’s blog, other comments by Aaron Caroll, Jonathan Gruber, and Igor Volsky.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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