It won’t be the last stop for President Obama’s signature health care bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, but it was a road bump that I’m sure the Obama Administration could have done without. Today, a federal judge in Virginia ruled that the “individual mandate,” which mandates health coverage for most Americans by 2014, is unconstitutional. The judge did not address the entire law, such as parts dealing with expansion of Medicaid coverage.
“I am gratified we prevailed,” Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement. “This won’t be the final round, as this will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, but today is a critical milestone in the protection of the Constitution.”
Interestingly, health care stocks rose at the news, with Standard & Poor’s 500 Health Care Index up 0.5 percent at noon New York time.
The ruling, according to the WSJ, is the first against the law. The judge stated that the law’s requirement that most Americans carry insurance or pay a penalty “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.” Two other cases have ruled in favor of the law.
Despite the plaintiff’s request, Judge Hudson did not issue an injunction against the law. Although the individual mandate does not go into effect until 2014, aspects of it will take effect as soon as January.
In his opinion, Judge Hudson reasserted sounded more than a little like the late Milton Friedman:
“At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance — or crafting a scheme of universal health coverage — it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate.”
Find the opinion text here.
- Health Law Ruled Unconstitutional (online.wsj.com)
- Judge Rules Obamacare Provision Unconstitutional (themoderatevoice.com)
- Mandatory Health Care Provision Struck Down As Unconstitutional (jonathanturley.org)