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Court Fight Over Health-Care Reform Shifts to Florida
Date:12/16/2010

orman K. Moon, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, "by choosing to forgo insurance, plaintiffs are making an economic decision to try to pay for health-care services later, out of pocket, rather than now, through the purchase of insurance." A second federal judge appointed by Clinton, a Democrat, has upheld the law as well, the Times said.

In the case decided Monday, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, a Republican, had filed a lawsuit in defense of a new Virginia law barring the federal government from requiring state residents to buy health insurance. He argued that it was unconstitutional for the federal law to force citizens to buy health insurance and to assess a fine if they didn't.

The U.S. Justice Department said the insurance mandate falls within the scope of the federal government's authority under the Commerce Clause. But Cuccinelli said deciding not to buy insurance was an economic matter outside the government's domain.

In his decision, Hudson agreed. "An individual's personal decision to purchase -- or decline to purchase -- health insurance from a private provider is beyond the historical reach of the Commerce Clause," the judge said.

Jack M. Balkin, a professor of constitutional law at Yale University who supports the constitutionality of the health-reform package, told the Times that "there are judges of different ideological views throughout the federal judiciary."

Hudson seemed to reflect that reality when he wrote in his opinion that "the final word will undoubtedly reside with a higher court," the Times reported.

By 2019, the law, unless changed, will expand health insurance access to 94 percent of non-elderly Americans.

More information

To learn more about the impact of the Affordable Care Act, visit this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Web site.


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