Appeals court rules individual mandate constitutional
Posted on June 29, 2011 | Comment (1)
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.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report that examines ways to encourage individuals to voluntarily obtain health insurance. GAO was asked by Congress to undertake the report due to the chance "...that legislative or judicial action could result in a change to, or elimination of, the mandate..." and the report is based on multiple interviews from experts regarding alternative approaches to the individual mandate to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).