Supreme Court Audio

March 28, 2012 by staff 

Supreme Court Audio, CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: We will continue argument this morning in Case 11-398, the Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida.

General Verrilli. ORAL ARGUMENT OF DONALD B. VERRILLI, JR., ON BEHALF OF THE PETITIONERS GENERAL VERRILLI: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

The Affordable Care Act addresses a fundamental and enduring problem in our health care system and our economy. Insurance has become the predominant means of paying for health care in this country. Insurance has become the predominant means of paying for health care in this country.

For most Americans, for more than 80 percent of Americans, the insurance system does provide effective access. Excuse me. But for more than 40 million Americans who do not have access to health insurance either through their employer or through government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid, the system does not work. Those individuals must resort to the individual market, and that market does not provide affordable health insurance.

It does not do so because, because the multibillion dollar subsidies that are available for the, the employer market are not available in the individual market. It does not do so because ERISA and HIPAA regulations that preclude, that preclude discrimination against people based on their medical history do not apply in the individual market. That is an economic problem. And it begets another economic problem.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Why aren’t those problems that the Federal Government can address directly?

GENERAL VERRILLI: They can address it directly, Justice Scalia, and they are addressing it directly through this, through this Act by regulating the means by which health care, by which health care is purchased. That is the way this Act works.

Under the Commerce Clause, what, what Congress has done is to enact reforms of the insurance market, directed at the individual insurance market, that preclude, that preclude discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, that require guaranteed issue and community rating, and it uses – and the minimum coverage provision is necessary to carry into execution those insurance reforms.

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