A federal judge in Florida yesterday made headlines when he dismissed all but two of the six counts in a 20-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health-care reform passed by Congress earlier this year. The two counts that remain challenge Congress’ power to institute the reform under the commerce clause and other provisions in the U.S. Constitution. Those challenges can now move forward through the courts, reports Yahoo News.
This isn’t the first lawsuit stemming from the health care reform act. Legal challenges to the reform came swiftly after its passage. Although filed months ago, many of those cases are just now coming up for a judge’s decision in the last few weeks.
A federal judge in Michigan last week heard arguments that are similar to the Florida case. That lawsuit also argued that Congress does not have the power to pass certain pieces of health care reform, which would make the act unconstitutional and void, according to the Washington Post. The argument centered around the “individual mandate,” which requires people to buy health insurance. The question in Michigan was specifically whether or not the health-care reform act was constitutional, and the judge ruled last week that it was, dismissing the lawsuit.
Virginia will see one of these lawsuits in its courts next week, when a federal judge in the state will hear arguments that also address the issue of Congress’ power to enforce the “individual mandate.” The case was allowed to go forward this summer, when the judge issued a ruling stating that the lawsuit involved “complex constitutional issues,” according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
It’s important to note that the Florida judge’s ruling differs from the rulings so far in Michigan and Virginia. The judge in Florida was required only to decide whether or not the states had a viable claim, not whether or not the health care reform act was constitutional. Decisions of that type regarding these lawsuits are months away yet. As such, the health care reform act is not yet in any danger of repeal – which is sure to bolster proponents of the reform as surely as it will discourage naysayers.
Warren Richey, “Health Care Reform: US Judge uphold Florida’s challenge to Obama.” YahooNews.com
N.C. Aizenmann, “New health-care law constitutional, federal judge rules.” WashingtonPost.com
Andrew Harris and William McQuillen, “Virginia Health-Care Lawsuit can proceed, judge says.” BloombergBusinessWeek.com