The centerpiece of the Obama health care legislation was a provision that required everyone to buy health insurance.
The idea behind that provision, which I always thought unconstitutional, was to force those in their 20’s and 30’s to buy health care at inflated prices to help lower prices of those in retirement who would need more services. Recall that various health care providers supported the legislation only because Congress mandated everyone to buy in.
Today, a Virginia Federal District Judge swatted that provision and recommended the Supreme Court hear the case, bypassing the Circuit Court of Appeals.
A federal judge in Virginia ruled Monday that a key provision of the nation’s sweeping health-care overhaul is unconstitutional, the most significant legal setback so far for President Obama’s signature domestic initiative.
U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson found that Congress could not order individuals to buy health insurance.
In a 42-page opinion, Hudson said the provision of the law that requires most individuals to get insurance or pay a fine by 2014 is an unprecedented expansion of federal power that cannot be supported by Congress’s power to regulate interstate trade.
“Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market,” he wrote. “In doing so, enactment of the [individual mandate] exceeds the Commerce Clause powers vested in Congress under Article I [of the Constitution.]
Leave it to the Obama administration to ram down everyone’s throat a bill whose centerpiece is unconstitutional. Whether the president would just forge ahead without that provision is unclear, but the health-care industry who wrote the legislation will not like it one bit.
The provision does not kick in until 2014, but we should not wait until the last minute to decide what to do about it, given there are 25 other objections to the bill including a joint filing by 20 states.
We need a quick ruling. If the administration asks the Supreme Court to hear the case, most likely it would. It might anyway, regardless of what the President wants, based on the recommendation of District Judge Henry Hudson.
Clearly the case is headed to the Supreme Court, so why not send it there right away?
Should the mandated buy provision be struck down by the Supreme Court, the entire bill will need to be reworked. A replacement bill in the next Congress would not look anything like this one.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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