A federal district judge in Florida has declared the health care reform law enacted last year to be unconstitutional.
The decision, issued January 31, 2011, holds that Congress exceeded its authority under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by enacting a mandate that requires individuals to purchase a minimum level of health insurance or pay a prescribed amount under the Internal Revenue Code. The Court also found that this individual mandate could not be severed from the legislation as a whole, rendering the entire law unconstitutional.
As a result, the ruling would strike down reforms that have already taken effect, like the requirement to cover children to age 26, as well as reforms scheduled to take effect in the future, such as the implementation of state health insurance exchanges.
It is increasingly more likely that the constitutional issues raised in this case will ultimately need to be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Obama administration has requested that the Supreme Court not consider this case until it has been reviewed by the lower court of appeals. This move is seen by many to be a stall tactic. Either way it appears that the end result of the Health Care Reform law will not be known for some time yet. Should the law be overturned, the consensus is that there will be another attempt by House led Republicans to offer a new reform package, but will be more closely scrutinized as to the cost of the reform. Either way it appears that there is likely to be health care reform of some type in our future…