California’s health care law is so vague it’s likely to be struck down

Op-Ed: The Supreme Court shouldn’t meddle with California’s standards on meat and eggs

by David Leonhardt

California, one of the most progressive states in the nation, has an ambitious program to fight health problems linked to diet, including obesity, heart disease and cancer.

The state’s efforts include standards that are higher than the federal government’s standards for beef and eggs, which are more than twice the federal standard.

But the state’s law that sets the standards for the animals is so vague, and is being challenged in court, that experts say it’s likely to be struck down.

And if it’s not, state regulators could face pressure to lower the standards.

“I don’t think we want the Supreme Court to be in the business of micromanaging the standards at the state level,” said Jon Poling, a professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

That would be one of the ironies of the case: Two years ago, a federal judge struck down California’s law as unconstitutionally vague. The court reversed his decision and said it would not hear the case again, but the state’s lawyers were still preparing the legal strategy, which includes the argument that California’s law isn’t vague at all.

It’s a tactic that is likely here to stay.

A lot has changed since the health care law was approved by a Democratic Congress in 2010. Many of the provisions — including the individual mandate to purchase coverage — were left to the states, which decided to do the best they could to comply.

And the Supreme Court hasn’t even agreed to hear the case.

The legal showdown

In March 2012, the state of Washington sued the federal government over the law, which requires most Americans to have health insurance by 2014

Leave a Comment