Statement from North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem:
BISMARCK, ND – Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem issued the following statement in response to the US Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act.
"Although the Court agreed with our contention that the individual health-insurance mandate, which is at the heart of the health care law, is not permitted by the commerce clause, it ruled Congress had the power to impose the mandate because it can be considered a tax."
"I am disappointed that this federal takeover of health care has been upheld by a slim majority of the Supreme Court. Now that the Court has spoken, this contentious issue will have to be settled by the political branches of the federal government," Stenehjem said.
Rejecting the Administration's contention that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution permits the federal government to require individual citizens to purchase health insurance policies from private companies, a five-to-four majority of the Court held that the requirement is permissible under the taxing authority of the Constitution.
Stenehjem further stated, "The Commerce Clause argument of our lawsuit, initially claimed by some to be without merit, was found to be legitimate, even though the outcome was ultimately unsuccessful."
On March 23, 2010, North Dakota and 12 other states joined in the litigation challenging the Federal Health-Care Act. The multi-state litigation ultimately expanded to 26 states plus the assistance of Virginia and Missouri. In October 2011, the US Federal Court denied the federal government's motion to dismiss the multi-state healthcare suit. In January 2011, the US Federal District Court ruled that the Health-Care Reform Act was unconstitutional. The Federal Court ruled that the provisions requiring Americans over 18 to obtain qualifying insurance coverage or face a penalty exceeded Congress' powers under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In August 2011, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court ruling that the Federal Health-Care Individual Mandate is unconstitutional. The case was then argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in March 2012.
The Federal Healthcare Act's expansion of coverage was estimated to increase federal spending in the amount of $3.3 trillion over 10 years as argued in the U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments in March of 2012.