Hospital groups file brief on reform

The U.S. Supreme Court should uphold the legality of the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, according to six national hospital associations

The U.S. Supreme Court should uphold the legality of the individual mandate  to purchase health insurance, according to six national hospital associations that  filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Jan. 13. The mandate is perhaps the most controversial provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act  (ACA).

According to the brief, requiring individuals to obtain health insurance is constitutional because lack of health insurance is a crisis that “substantially affects” interstate commerce.   In America, tens of millions of uninsured residents receive tens of billions of dollars of health care each year. Insured patients and taxpayers pick up much of the cost of their care.

“The result is extreme distortion of both the health care and health insurance markets,” the brief notes.

Rejecting arguments that the individual mandate could lead to Congress requiring Americans to purchase other things from cars to broccoli, the brief draws a sharp difference between such hypothetical opinions and the current health care crisis. A mandate to acquire health insurance “is a mere financing mechanism for another activity they already undertake – consumption of health care,”  the national groups insist.

The brief was filed by the American Hospital Association, the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, the Federal of American Hospitals, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and the Association of American Medical Colleges.