Md. lawmakers sign brief supporting health care law

More than two dozen Maryland state lawmakers have signed an amicus brief that will be filed in U.S. Supreme Court Thursday in support of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The advisory brief, which also includes signatures from state lawmakers across the country, comes weeks before the high court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the national Affordable Care Act, which is being challenged on several fronts. 

All of the Maryland lawmakers in support of the law are Democrats

“People are going to be at our emergency room doors in Maryland if they don’t have the coverage that they would have under the federal law,” said Baltimore Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, who signed the brief.

The federal law, signed by Obama in 2010, requires virtually every American to have some form of health coverage, creates so-called exchanges that allow certain people to purchase insurance separately from their employer and provides subsidies to low- and middle-income families to help them pay for coverage. 

But the law, the bulk of which will not take effect until 2014, is deeply controversial. The administration has acknowledged that some provisions are impossible to implement, such as a proposed federal insurance plan for senior care. And the requirement that everyone have health insurance or face a penalty has prompted several federal lawsuits. 

Some Democrats have likened the requirement to state mandates that drivers purchase car insurance.

“First and foremost, I support the Affordable Care Act and oppose any attempts at conservative judicial activism,” Del. Kumar P. Barve, a Montgomery County Democrat said in an e-mail. “Secondarily, I'm worried that the elimination of this insurance mandate would eliminate similar automobile insurance mandates in the fifty states.”

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, also a Democrat, has scheduled a telephone conference call with colleagues in other states for Friday to discuss a seperate amicus brief that will be filed by attorneys general, his office said Thursday.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the case in March.

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