Mandated Health Insurance Ruled Unconstitutional

by John Sullivan on Dec 14, 2010

Mandated health insurance was ruled unconstitutional by a Federal judge in Virginia today. US District Judge, Henry Hudson, dealt the first significant blow to a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by ruling that the Minimal Essential Care Coverage provision, which mandates that most Americans carry health insurance starting in 2014 or be fined, “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.”

The government had argued for the Minimal Essential Care Coverage provisions under the authority of the Commerce Clause and through the Necessary and Proper Clause in that “No person can guarantee that he will never incur a sudden, unanticipated need for expensive care; and very few persons, absent insurance, can guarantee that they will not shift the cost of that care to the rest of society.”

In his opinion, Judge Hudson wrote, “The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers.” Hudson’s ruling states, "At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance - or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage – it’s about an individual's right to choose to participate."

Judge Hudson’s ruling only effects Section 1501 and does not block the implementation of other provisions of the ACA. The court expects appellate review on this issue and that the final word will undoubtedly reside in a higher court. Therefore, the administration is likely to appeal the ruling because it is a key component of health care reform. Two other Federal judges previously rejected similar challenges to the law.

Read more in the 42 page Memorandum Opinion.

Source: Memorandum Opinion filed 12/13/10
Commonwealth vs Secretary, Civil Action No 3:10CV188-HEH

Two Article Comments

Editor's Opinion

The actual Memorandum Opinion (posted with this article) is very interesting and not a difficult read. It really lays out the constitutional issues in a way that us average Joes can understand. The positions of both parties (in this case Virginia vs the Federal Government) are explained and then the Judge gives his opinion. Rarely do we have opportunities to get a lesson in constituitonal law. I urge you to read it for yourself and post your opinion here.


Willaim Schreib

You Insurance people should know that health care is way too expensive (twice most other industrialized nations). Why? Perhaps because 40% of the people refuse to have insurance because “it’s free” at the emergency room. The hospitals have to pass this on to those of us who are foolish enough to actually own anything and have insurance. Furthermore, insurance companies get their contracted “payments” which are half of what an uninsured person has to pay— which means actual costs are actually 50% less than what is charged. Any uninsured people is then forced to declare bankruptcy and pay nothing, which raises hospital costs even higher.
Hey, we are forced to have auto liability and we pay more to cover our asses from "uninsured drivers. We are also forced to pay social security… thank goodness… 95% of us end up broke by the time we are 70 if we spend a mere 2 weeks in a hospital.
This is part of the human condition and health care needs to be paid into (like social security) to insure costs can be covered, for we who live to an older age will likely end up in some minimal “care center” at a ridiculous 3 to $5k a month.
Up to 40 years of age, most of us think we are invincible. In these younger years, if we don’t pay into “the costs”, it becomes too expensive to insure ourselves for the medical care that comes later in life. Insurance lobbyists have dumped most of these later life costs on medical care. Since medicare pays so little, we must have supplemental insurance which for my sister, rose from $350 a month to $1,600 when her husband died. (The policy was in his name). Naturally, she had to cancel it. Any costs hereafter will have to be dumped onto medicare, If she gets “sick”, there goes her house and everything we built in our business over 15 years. In the process, to the joy of the insurance companies, most of the expenses will all be dumped on medicare. No wonder it’s going broke.
If covering medical care is unconstitutional, then so is auto insurance and social security. The human condition is obvious, so why can’t we figure out a simple program to make it work for as many people as possible, without paying an insurance CEO a ridiculous 15 million dollars a year.

Editor’s Note: Your frustrations are well founded and shared by all including health insurance agents who scramble every day to find affordable medical insurance plans for their customers.


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