October 24, 2014

Legal Confusion Continues Over Health Care Law

  • The American health care system is a patchwork of public and private programs that serve citizens in different ways, depending on their age, military...

A federal court judge in Florida on Monday rejected last year's health care legislation, finding that its mandate for individuals to purchase health insurance was unconstitutional. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson said other parts of the law were so “inextricably bound” to the mandate that they, too, had to be invalidated.

This was a more sweeping rejection of the law than the ruling last year by a federal judge in Virginia that also found the mandate unconstitutional. Two other federal judges have upheld the law, and its constitutionality is likely to eventually be decided by the Supreme Court.

Vinson did not issue an immediate injunction against the law but the language in his ruling left confusion and disagreement over how elected officials should proceed as the case is appealed.

If higher courts invalidate the law, Congress will need to quickly pass new health care cost-control measures that are at least as strong as those approved last year. Elected officials would have to resist the temptation to keep the most popular elements of the legislation without ensuring that they will be financed in a responsible way.