Issue to Watch: ACA Nullification

Date: February 02, 2016 Last Edit: February 03, 2016

Proposed bill would block the federal healthcare law’s enforcement in Virginia.

Issue to Watch: ACA Nullification

At the national level, the U.S. House of Representatives continues its attempts to repeal key portions of the Affordable Care Act, but meanwhile in Virginia, a bill has been filed that would essentially block enforcement of ACA in the state.

House Bill 338 would prohibit Virginia from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with the ACA. The bill also outlines four specific categories of state noncooperation:

  1. Funding/implementing a state-based healthcare exchange or marketplace
  2. Limiting availability of self-funded health insurance programs (as well as reinsurance or other products traditionally used with self-funded health insurance programs)
  3. Funding/aiding in prosecution of any entity for a violation of ACA
  4. Funding/administering any program or provision of the ACA

However, funding or administration of certain regulatory activities, including those related to Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program, are exempt from HB338’s prohibition.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, passage of HB338 would virtually shut down the ACA in Virginia. A similar law went into effect last year in Arizona, and the Tenth Amendment Center explains that Virginia’s bill is based on a well-established legal principle called the anti-commandeering doctrine. This doctrine, derived from four Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842, essentially says that the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce any federal act or program.

HB338 has been assigned to the Subcommittee of Health and Human Resources.

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