New Healthcare Law- Mandate to Purchase Medical Insurance Upheld by 6th Circuit Court « Health Insurance Advisory

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new healthcare reform lawThe new healthcare law, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), represents comprehensive healthcare reform legislation signed into law on March 23, 2010. It contains numerous provisions designed to protect consumers and promote low cost medical insurance, including many new taxes to pay for the cost.

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New Healthcare Law- Mandate to Purchase Medical Insurance Upheld by 6th Circuit Court

Author: Administrator | Jul 01 2011 | Individual Mandate - New Healthcare Law

The new healthcare law seeks to extend medical coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans and make major changes in public and private medical insurance. The most controversial provision is the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to purchase a major medical insurance plan starting in 2014 or pay a tax penalty if they don’t.

A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld the most contentious provision of the new healthcare law, ruling that Congress can require Americans to carry major medical insurance coverage. In backing the “individual mandate,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati became the first appellate court to rule on President Obama’s signature domestic initiative. The decision also marked the first time a Republican-appointed judge has sided with the administration in evaluating the law’s constitutionality.

“We find that the minimum coverage provision is a valid exercise of legislative power by Congress under the Commerce Clause,” Judge Boyce F. Martin Jr., a Democratic appointee, wrote the majority. He was joined by Republican appointee Jeffrey Sutton. The 2 to 1 ruling was hailed by the Justice Department and administration allies, who called it an important bipartisan test of the law’s ability to withstand numerous legal challenges. Opponents of the new healthcare law disputed the ruling’s significance, calling it one incremental step in a legal struggle widely expected to wind up at the Supreme Court.

“It’s an unfortunate decision,” said David Rivkin, a lawyer representing 26 states in a Florida-based lawsuit that also challenges the law. “By the time this gets to the Supreme Court, it’s not going to matter which decision was first or second,” added Rivkin, who predicted that the law will be overturned.

More than 30 lawsuits have been filed since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was pushed through Congress by Democrats in March 2010, resulting in several rulings by lower court judges along partisan lines. As a result, the ultimate fate of the statute, which aims to bring about the broadest changes to the nation’s health-care system in several decades, may not be known for a year or more. Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the 6th Circuit case said they will appeal directly to the Supreme Court but acknowledged that the justices probably will not take the case right away.

“If Congress can require Americans to buy medical insurance today, what of tomorrow? Could it compel individuals to buy health care itself in the form of an annual check-up or for that matter a health-club membership?”  Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said that the government welcomed the ruling “and its finding that Congress acted within its authority in passing this landmark health-care reform law.” She vowed that the department will continue to “vigorously defend” the law and said department officials believe that efforts to challenge it will fail.

Two other federal appellate courts, the Richmond-based 4th Circuit and the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, recently heard oral arguments in lawsuits challenging various aspects of the new healthcare law’s constitutionality, and they are expected to issue decisions in the coming weeks or months. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has scheduled oral arguments for September.

Three U.S. district judges have ruled in favor of the administration on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, while two district court judges have said it is unconstitutional. Those decisions were all along partisan lines, with Democratic-appointed judges supporting the administration and Republican appointees opposing it.  (Excerpts from the Washington Post)

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