A Florida judge has declared two provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law last year by President Barack Obama, as unconstitutional, validating the claims of 26 states and a national business owners group and declaring the entire Act void.
The decision by Judge Roger Vinson questions the federal government’s standing to force states and individuals to participate in the program and holds that the individual mandate (that each person must purchase federally approved health insurance or pay a penalty) violates the Commerce clause and that altering and amending the Medicaid program by expanding it violates the Spending clause, as well as the principles of federalism protected under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.
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States involved in the filing include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
“I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate. That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and inequities in our health care system,” Vinson wrote.
“Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications,” he continued. “At a time when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled ‘The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.’ “
The judgment, along with another handed down in December by Virginia Judge Henry E. Hudson even the scorecard of support of the bill, as two affirmative judgments were handed down from Lynchberg Judge Norman K. Moon and Detroit Judge George C. Steeh. All four judgments are moving toward their respective federal Appelate Courts, and could proceed to a final decision by the U.S. Supreme Court within the next two years.
Additional information from CNN