A group of 35 economists, including three Nobel laureates, asked a U.S. judge for permission to file a brief backing the Obama administration’s bid to end a lawsuit challenging its healthcare overhaul.
Nobel Prize-winning economists Kenneth Arrow, George Akerlof and Eric Maskin are among the scholars who filed papers today asking U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola to allow them to submit a brief they say will give the court “insight.”
Nineteen states have joined in the lawsuit brought by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum on March 23, which claimed the healthcare legislation signed by President Barack Obama earlier that day is overbroad and unconstitutional.
“Everyone gets sick, suffers an injury at some point in their life or must address the vicissitudes of aging and seek medical care,” the economists’ lawyer, Richard Rosen, wrote in today’s filing. “Those medical costs typically arise at unpredictable times and, when they occur, often exceed the ability to pay of all but the very wealthiest of Americans.”
The states, in court papers, have claimed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA, unlawfully forces individuals to buy health insurance and compels states to participate in a “greatly expanded and fundamentally transformed Medicaid program.”
The U.S. has asked Vinson to throw out the lawsuit, arguing that it was filed prematurely because the bulk of the act doesn’t take effect until 2014. The administration has also said the states don’t identify any injury sustained by them or by individuals compelled to obtain coverage.
A parallel challenge to the legislation, filed by Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, is pending in federal court in Richmond.
Joining Florida in its lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.
Vinson has scheduled oral arguments for Dec. 16.
A spokeswoman for McCollum, Sandi Copes, didn’t respond immediately to telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
The Florida case is State of Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 3:10-cv-00091, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida (Pensacola).
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