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Health Care

High Court Denies Fast-Track Review In Virginia's Challenge To Health Care Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. - (Mealey's) The U.S. Supreme Court on April 25 rejected Virginia's request for a writ of certiorari before judgment for review of a lower court's decision holding that the individual mandate contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is unconstitutional and severing the provision from the rest of the act (Virginia, ex rel. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, Attorney General of Virginia v. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, No. 10-1014, U.S. Sup.). 

The court denied without comment Virginia's petition for certiorari before judgment in a challenge of a Dec. 13 decision by U.S. Judge Henry E. Hudson of the Eastern District of Virginia in which the judge held that ''[n]either the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended the commerce clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market.'' 

By enacting the provision, Congress exceeded the powers granted to it under the Constitution, Judge Hudson said. 

He further found that the provision was severable from the balance of the PPACA but declined to grant injunctive relief, saying the award of declaratory judgment was sufficient, pending appellate review. 

In the case, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli sued Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in her official capacity, alleging that the PPACA conflicts with Virginia Code Section 38.2-3430.1:1 and that a main provision of the PPACA requiring that most Americans without insurance obtain coverage or face a penalty is unconstitutional. 

The parties separately appealed the ruling to the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. 

Cuccinelli also filed a petition for certiorari before judgment in the Supreme Court pursuant to Rule of the Supreme Court 11.  The rule provides that immediate review in the Supreme Court is permissible "upon a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in" the Supreme Court. 

The case will be heard in the Fourth Circuit in May. 

[Editor's Note:  Full coverage will be in the May 4 issue of Mealey's Managed Care Liability Report.  For all of your legal news needs, please visit] 

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