The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit has ruled that the individual requirement to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) falls within Congress’ authority to regulate interstate commerce activities under the Commerce Clause, and is therefore, constitutional. At issue specifically in this case is the whether Congress can also regulate inactivity, that is, a person’s decision NOT to purchase health insurance. To this point, Judge Boyce F. Martin, Jr. wrote for the majority that, ”although there is no firm, constitutional bar that prohibits Congress from placing regulations on what could be described as inactivity, even if there were it would not impact this case due to the unique aspects of health care that make all individuals active in this market.”
The 2-1 ruling, which upholds an earlier Michigan District Court Decision, is expected to be appealed by the plantiffs, who include the Thomas Moore Law Center, also of Michigan. They could ask for the case to be heard en banc, before the entire group of 16 judges in the 6th Circuit, or the plaintiffs could proceed by appealing directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
March 2, 2011
A fifth U.S. District Court has issued a decision on a challenge to the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Mead et al. v. Holder et al., finding the law is constitutional. Although legal challenges to the ACA have not been limited to the individual requirement to maintain health insurance coverage, the vast majority of cases have focused on this provision, commonly referred to as the individual mandate. To date, three district courts have held that Congress has the authority to require purchase of health insurance coverage as a reasonable exercise of its Commerce Clause powers, and two have struck down the provision as unconstitutional. A Florida district court has gone one step further, holding that the individual mandate, as an essential part of the ACA, was non-severable from the remainder of the Act and, as a result, struck down the entire statute.
February 3, 2011
Shortly after President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law, opponents filed a series of legal challenges in federal court. In a previous Implementation Brief
we provided an overview of these legal challenges, identified provisions of the ACA that are the focus of challenges, discussed provisions of the Constitution that are the basis of these challenges, and provided brief histories of relevant Supreme Court rulings. The purpose of this brief is to provide an update on the status of the lawsuit filed by 26 states and other individuals in Florida et. al. v. HHS
December 14, 2010
This is an updated version of a brief originally published on November 15, 2010.
Shortly after President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law, opponents of the law filed a series of legal challenges in federal court. This health reform implementation brief provides an overview of the legal challenges by identifying and providing summaries of the two major cases filed by states and select claims, not raised by the states, from other cases.
October 8, 2010
US District Court Judge George Steeh has dismissed a case claiming Congress acted beyond the scope of its powers under the commerce clause when it included a requirement that individuals carry health insurance in the health reform law. “The decision whether to purchase insurance or to attempt to pay for health care out of pocket is plainly economic,” he wrote in his opinion, and this has a "clear and direct impacts on health care providers, taxpayers and the insured population, who ultimately pay for the care provided to those who go without insurance.” He concludes, “While plaintiffs describe the Commerce Clause power as reaching economic activity, the government’s characterization of the Commerce Clause reaching economic decisions is more accurate.”