Federal Judge Strikes Down Health Care Mandate

Challenges to critical component of "ObamaCare" will likely reach the Supreme Court.

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Is it constitutional to require Americans to purchase health insurance? A federal judge in Florida has decided in favor of 20 state plaintiffs, ruling that it is not.

The states challenged a $695 annual penalty that would be imposed under Obama's health care law on people who fail to purchase health insurance. Virginia, in a similar lawsuit, was successful at the district court level in upholding a state law that says its residents can't be forced to buy coverage.

The Obama administration argues that the mandate is essential to providing health care to those with pre-existing health conditions. (Unless everyone is required to have insurance, consumers might wait until they are sick to purchase health insurance, leading to an industry "death spiral.")

But the state plaintiffs see the mandate as an “unprecedented attempt to regulate inactivity.” Both the Florida and Virginia cases are now headed to courts of appeal known for being conservative, and those decisions will almost certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court.

The New York Times reports that the recent decision solidifies the divide in the health-litigation decisions among judges named by Republicans and those named by Democrats.

Oh, really? So whether health care reform survives to protect 30 million uninsured Americans and those with pre-existing health conditions remains a blatantly partisan issue? File this one under "Sad, but not the least bit surprising."

Read the full story in the New York Times.

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Sept. 19 2014 8:34 AM