A federal judge ruled that the government cannot compel citizens to buy a particular product, striking down the key feature of the health care reform bill, which forces everyone to buy insurance.
The Obama administration’s requirement that most citizens maintain minimum health coverage as part of a broad overhaul of the industry is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled, striking down the linchpin of the plan.
U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond, Virginia, today said that the requirement in President Barack Obama’s health-care legislation goes beyond Congress’s powers to regulate interstate commerce. While severing the coverage mandate, which is set to become effective in 2014, Hudson didn’t address other provisions such as expanding Medicaid.
“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,” wrote Hudson, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002.
The ruling is the government’s first loss in a series of challenges to the law mounted in federal courts in Virginia, Michigan and Florida, where 20 states have joined an effort to have the statute thrown out.
Constitutional scholars said unless Congress changes the law, its fate on appeal will probably be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court.
You may recall that we talked about this on this blog, the difficulty of the health care reform bill passing constitutional muster. As someone said, it may have been in the national interest to preserve the U.S. auto industry, but that doesn’t mean the government has the authority to make every American buy a Chevy.