In a stunning decision released today, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson in Richmond, Virginia, has ruled that Obama’s health-care law passed earlier this year is unconstitutional. The Obama administration now plans to appeal the case to the U. S. Supreme Court, and here is a report from Bloomberg:
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.
‘Lot of Activity’
“There’s a lot of activity focused now on alternatives to the mandate,” said Dan Mendelson, chief executive officer of Avalere Health, a Washington-based consulting firm. One option might be to provide access to all people, even ones with pre-existing conditions, to buy insurance and limit the times they could sign up.
“It’s using a carrot instead of a stick,” Mendelson said in a telephone interview before the ruling.
Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a health insurers’ Washington lobby group, declined to comment on the record about whether insurers have discussed alternatives with the administration or whether a policy could be designed to replace the effects of losing the individual mandate.
Hudson didn’t stop the government from moving ahead with implementing the law while an appeal is pending.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who brought the suit, said in a statement he was “gratified we prevailed.”
“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,” he said. . . .