In the latest scrimmage between states and the federal government on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Commonwealth of Virginia lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate. Virginia brought suit against Kathleen Sebelius and the Department of Health & Human Services, challenging the individual mandate as unconstitutional and basing its standing on a conflict between the mandate and a new statute in Virginia, the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act. But the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Virginia lacked standing to challenge the mandate since the ACA’s mandate did not threaten the enforceability of the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, especially where Virginia’s law simply tried to immunize Virginia citizens from the ACA individual mandate. Read the full opinion here.
The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance review program has gone into effect, and this means that all insurers seeking to increase their health insurance rates by 10% or more must submit the proposed increase for review by state insurance experts. As part of the ACA’s emphasis on transparency and accountability, the rate review program allows state regulators to deny excessive rate increases and consumers will be able to see the reasons behind rate increases on a new Department of Health & Human Services website, HealthCare.gov. The ACA has also provided Health Insurance Premium Review Grants of $250 million over the next five years to the states, which will assist the states in improving their review of health insurance rates and their ability to hold insurance companies accountable for excessive premiums. For more information on the review program, see HHS’ website here.