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Mandated Health Insurance Ruled Unconstitutional

by John Sullivan on Dec 14, 2010

Mandated health insurance was ruled unconstitutional by a Federal judge in Virginia today. US District Judge, Henry Hudson, dealt the first significant blow to a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by ruling that the Minimal Essential Care Coverage provision, which mandates that most Americans carry health insurance starting in 2014 or be fined, “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.”

The government had argued for the Minimal Essential Care Coverage provisions under the authority of the Commerce Clause and through the Necessary and Proper Clause in that “No person can guarantee that he will never incur a sudden, unanticipated need for expensive care; and very few persons, absent insurance, can guarantee that they will not shift the cost of that care to the rest of society.”

In his opinion, Judge Hudson wrote, “The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers.” Hudson’s ruling states, "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."

Judge Hudson’s ruling only effects Section 1501 and does not block the implementation of other provisions of the ACA. The court expects appellate review on this issue and that the final word will undoubtedly reside in a higher court. Therefore, the administration is likely to appeal the ruling because it is a key component of health care reform. Two other Federal judges previously rejected similar challenges to the law.

Read more in the 42 page Memorandum Opinion.

Source: Memorandum Opinion filed 12/13/10
Commonwealth vs Secretary, Civil Action No 3:10CV188-HEH

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