CREDIT: (AP Photo/National Portrait Gallery)
At least 82,000 West Virginia residents are signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion alone. Yet, if West Virginia state Del. Eric Householder (R) gets his way, all of them will lose their health care and many of the people responsible for providing it to them could be tossed in prison.
Householder plans to introduce unconstitutional legislation purporting to nullify the Affordable Care Act in his state. As a bonus, Householder’s bill would reportedly “make it a state felony to attempt to enforce” the Affordable Care Act’s provisions.
Nullification is the unconstitutional notion that a state can simply invalidate a federal law within its own borders by declaring that law unconstitutional. It runs afoul of the explicit language of the Constitution, which provides that duly enacted federal laws “shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” Indeed, as James Madison warned, nullification would “speedily put an end to the Union itself” as it would effectively render every single federal law optional.
Although a handful of state lawmakers have introduced similar attempts to thwart the Constitution and halt health reform, Householder’s effort may be the first effort to nullify the Affordable Care Act after it went into full effect. Thus, he would not only prevent future beneficiaries from receiving care, he would actively strip tens of thousands of his state’s residents of their health care.