Tie Score on ObamaCare—So Far
The judicial scorecard on the constitutionality of federal health reform stands at 2-2, with two federal judges striking down at least part of the law as unconstitutional and two judges upholding it. The ultimate decision is expected to come from the U.S. Supreme Court.
This week, Florida U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson threw out the entire federal health reform known as “ObamaCare” because he said its requirement that everyone purchase a health insurance product—or face a penalty–violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.
He declared the entire law invalid because, in his estimation, this individual mandate is so integral to the overall law that the law cannot stand without it. Under the law, starting in 2014, most Americans who do not carry insurance would have to pay a penalty, with fines topping off at $2,085 a year for families without insurance.
The judge said the true question is not the validity of health reform but rather how much regulatory power the federal government has over citizens’ lives. Can the government require individuals to buy products of any kind?
Twenty-six states participated in the suit but the ultimate judicial fate of the federal reform is likely to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the conflict over ObamaCare continues on another front–in Congress. Behind a new Republican majority, the House last month voted to repeal the entire law, but a Democratic majority stopped it in the Senate.
GOP lawmakers are now working on ways to change, dismantle or defund parts of ObamaCare, as well as adopt reforms they said were blocked out of the federal legislation.
All of the uncertainty about the federal health reform law’s controversial provisions makes a strong case for real healthcare reform that focuses on the need for lower cost, higher quality and increased access. It also underscores the need for open, bipartisan debate on how to best achieve those goals.
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