Federal Judge Strikes Down Key Healthcare Law Provision

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , December 13, 2010

Updated at 4:32 p.m. Eastern.

A Virginia federal judge on Monday ruled that the individual mandate - a major precept of the Obama administration's healthcare legislation - exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.

"On careful review, this Court must conclude that Section 1501 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - specifically the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision - exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power," wrote U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson.

"At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance - or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage, - it's about an individual's right to choose to participate," he wrote.

Hudson did not grant petitioners' request for an immediate injunction against the entire law, only on the portion regarding the individual mandate, the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.

One consumer group, Health Care for America Now, said it was "pleased that Hudson rejected Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's attempt to strike down" the entire Act, but disagreed with Hudson's view that the individual mandate requirement is unconstitutional.

"We think that is wrong on the merits and bad for people's health. If his decision is upheld, it would give the green light for insurance companies to deny people care based on pre-existing conditions," said HCAN spokesman Avram Goldstein in a statement.

Four other federal district courts of equal rank "have determined that the law is constitutional or have dismissed complaints on procedural grounds, and the ultimate decision will rest with the U.S. Supreme Court," Goldstein added.

More than 20 states have filed lawsuits challenging the Act, which may ultimately be decided the Supreme Court.

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1 comments on "Federal Judge Strikes Down Key Healthcare Law Provision"

D Watson (12/15/2010 at 7:33 PM)
Working in the Health Care industry as a nurse for 35 yrs, I feel well qualified to comment. Clarification, I am totally for Health Care Reform, but the problem most people have with this is, that you can't pass a document thousands of pages long and the public doesnt understand all the aspects of reform in that document, and doesnt understand why they should be asked to contribute and at a young age, by paying for Health Insurance when they don't see the need for it. The reform bill, was RUSHED THROUGH too quickly with too many people not understanding and still don't. The vote should have been on "Do we agree we need to reform our current health care system." Vote should have been a unanimous "YES" both for Rep. and Dems. and proceeded from there a few steps at the time, not the whole enchilata. Here we are with some ignorant folks saying, "if you mandate that we have to pay toward our Health Insurance that is against our Constitutional Rights!". My answer is...Fine! Don't make them have insurance, let them sign a wavier stating they wish to die a natural death at home or on the street, with no participation in our Health Care System. Let the penalty for lack of participation, be a signed agreement which forfeits their rights to any future public assistance, where if that person does get sick, they will have to privately pay for all there own care, and forfeit any public assistance help. If the person gets cancer or gets in a car wreck and is disabled, they can just die at home with friends and relatives assisting or on charitable but (not tax deductable) donations. If a person declined to contribute, they should have NO tax funded medical treatments, unless THEY pay for it 100 percent out of pocket. If folks want the RIGHT to Refuse to contribute, then why should those folks EVER GET, any assistance from my tax dollars that do fund MEDICAID or any MEDICAID Funded programs. If they have the RIGHT TO REFUSE, we should have the right not to foot their future bills. FAIR is FAIR. I'm tired of people just riding on the tails of tax payers for housing, food and medical care. If they are working or handicapped and still need tax funded assistance great, lets assist if we have the tax dollars extra to help! If non productive, non paying moocher on OUR UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, I frankly do not wish to give them ANY help with my hard earned money and Tax Dollar's I've paid in.




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