A Virginia federal judge has declared the individual mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance, included in the health-reform law, unconstitutional. Today’s federal ruling stands out from the 15 previous cases to be held against our country’s new reform law, in that it is the first federal ruling to strike down any part of the new law which will be implemented in 2014.
District judge Henry Hudson, appointed by Bush, found that the recently passed law’s mandate, forcing Americans to purchase health care, “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power”. The republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, whom filed the suit, has launched a PR campaign to gain donations and petitioners to challenge the law even further.
Judge Hudson’s did however rule that the law be allowed to live while other federal appeals are heard. Since this case is the health-reform law’s first federal challenge, the case will now most likely approach the Supreme Court. Judge Hudson stated in his ruling, “The final word will undoubtedly reside with a higher court. In this Court’s view, the award of declaratory judgment is sufficient to stay the hand of the executive branch pending appellate review.”
Virginians will not be required to adhere to the mandated insurance purchases the law requires, due to the fact Virginia was the first state to pass a law barring the law’s insurance mandate.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s task is to now convince the Department of Justice to “speed-up” the case’s arrival to the Supreme Court steps, accelerating the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals or skipping the process altogether.
With that being said, Dept. of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler was quoted as saying, “We are disappointed in today’s ruling but continue to believe – as other federal courts in Virginia and Michigan have found – that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional there is clear and well-established legal precedent that Congress acted within its constitutional authority in passing this law and we are confident that we will ultimately prevail.”
Future decisions are on the way from other federal courts. This Thursday arguments will be heard for a Florida case challenging the law.
The President’s administration believes without a mandate a number of people, who would get coverage, would be cut in half and threaten the ban on denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
During the health care debates the Health Insurance Industry maintained that it needed the individual mandate–and the healthy people who would presumably buy insurance because of it–in order to be able to offer coverage for pre-existing conditions and to lift caps on lifetime limits.
White House officials believe the higher courts will hold the issue as constitutional in any ultimate decision, even though they may lose a number of the 20 federal suits still in process.