Court Strikes Part of Healthcare Law
Special Report - August 15, 2011
A federal appeals court has ruled that a key provision of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. In the 2 to 1 decision issued August 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld part of a federal district court ruling that found the individual mandate provision of the recently-enacted healthcare reform law, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, unconstitutional. The lawsuit, State of Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, involves a challenge to the healthcare reform law brought by the attorneys general and/or governors of 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business. North Carolina is not a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
As we previously reported, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson, a judge in the Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division, ruled in January that the healthcare reform law’s individual mandate represents an unconstitutional overreaching of Congressional authority and therefore makes the entire law void. The U.S. government appealed Judge Vinson’s ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
In upholding the part of Judge Vinson’s ruling that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, the majority of the 11th Circuit explained, “the individual mandate exceeds Congress’s enumerated commerce power and is unconstitutional. This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives. We have not found any generally applicable, judicially enforceable limiting principle that would permit us to uphold the mandate without obliterating the boundaries inherent in the system of enumerated congressional powers.”
While the appeals court agreed with Judge Vinson regarding the individual mandate provision, the court reversed part of his decision that struck down the entire health care reform law, noting that the “individual mandate, however, can be severed from the remainder of the Act’s myriad reforms.” The appeals court found instead that, “The Act’s other provisions remain legally operative after the mandate’s excision, and the high burden needed under Supreme Court precedent to rebut the presumption of severability has not been met.”
The 11th Circuit’s decision represents the first time a federal appeals court has struck down a provision of the healthcare reform law, which is facing multiple legal challenges nationwide that have resulted in a number of contradictory opinions from the courts. For example, in June, an appeals court in Ohio upheld the law’s individual mandate. The government is expected to appeal the 11th Circuit’s decision, and the case is expected to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Healthcare Law Ruled Unconstitutional - February 1, 2011
House Committee Passes Health Care Bill - January 28, 2011
House Votes To Repeal Healthcare Reform - January 20, 2011
House Passes Senate Healthcare Bill - March 22, 2010
Health Summit Yields Stalemate - March 1, 2010
Marriage Penalty in Healthcare Reform - January 14, 2010
Senate Votes to Cut Off Healthcare Debate - December 21, 2009
Senate Fails to Prohibit Abortion Funding - December 11, 2009
Pivotal Abortion Amendment in Senate - December 8, 2009
US Senate Debates Healthcare - November 20, 2009
Health Bill Passes with No Abortion - November 10, 2009
Healthcare Debate over Abortion - October 26, 2009
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