Florida, other states want entire health care law tossed, not just individual mandate

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When the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments this month in a Florida-led challenge to the 2010 federal health law, the most closely watched issue will be whether the so-called “individual mandate” should be upheld, reports the News Service of Florida.

Attorneys for Florida and other opponents filed a brief this week arguing that the entire law should be rejected if the mandate — a requirement that most Americans have health coverage in 2014 — is found unconstitutional. The brief centers on the legal concept of severability, which involves whether parts of a law can go into effect when others are rejected. The 2010 law includes wide-ranging issues, such as expanding Medicaid and making health-insurance changes.

The brief, filed Tuesday, argues that the mandate is the linchpin of the law. ”The individual mandate is not some stand-alone ‘reform’ that can be excised while leaving the balance of the (law) intact,” the brief says. But Obama administration attorneys argue that other parts of the law can move forward independently if the mandate is found unconstitutional. That also was the position of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which last year ruled against the mandate — but not the rest of the law. The Supreme Court will hold its landmark arguments March 26 through March 28.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.