The Obama administration defended the constitutionality of the 2010 health care act Tuesday before a panel of three federal appeals court judges in a Virginia courtroom. All three randomly selected judges, two of which were appointed by President Obama himself, indicated they are likely to uphold the healthcare law.
Supporters and opponents of the law gathered outside of the federal courthouse throughout the proceedings. The hearing centered on the question of Congress’ constitutional authority in regulating interstate commerce in the health care law’s mandate that individuals obtain health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty.
The lawsuits, brought separately by the state of Virginia and by Liberty University, a private religious school founded by Jerry Falwell, are just two of 30 filed across the country challenging the federal law. An Atlanta appeals court is set to hear oral arguments next month on a challenge filed jointly by 26 states. This particular provision has been previously challenged in Virginia, as well as in Florida and Michigan. This hearing, however, marked the first time any of the lawsuits filed against the law has reached the appellate level.
Currently under the health care act, certain preventive procedures, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, pap smears, tobacco cessation services, and obesity prevention services, no longer require a co-payment or other direct costs. President Obama signed the final version of the health care act in March. The final law will eventually add coverage for 32 million people, increasing access to family planning and preventive care.