A Federal Judge in Virginia has just ruled that the provision in the Health Care Bill that requires Americans to buy insurance is unconstitutional. This decision is critical as it sets the stage for the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of a mandated health insurance program. Virginia is the first court to invalidate the keystone provision of the Obama health care.
In a 42-page opinion issued in Richmond, Va., Judge Hudson wrote that the law’s central requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance exceeds the regulatory authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The insurance mandate is central to the law’s mission of covering more than 30 million uninsured because insurers argue that only by requiring healthy people to have policies can they afford to treat those with expensive chronic conditions.
The two provisions that have been enacted on the Health Bill, primarily no pre-existing conditions and children being insured until 26, will not be effected immediately. The part of the bill ruled unconstitutional was to take effect in 2014. The entire bill is considered to be on significantly less stable footing, as the funding provision is an essential component to all the other pieces.
Lawyers on both sides said the appellate process could last another two years before the Supreme Court settles the dispute.
I should be noted that the insurance requirement does not even take effect until 2014, when the Supreme Court presumably will have ruled.