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Fla. Federal Judge: Health Reform Law Is Unconstitutional
Date:2/1/2011

By Karen Pallarito
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- A federal judge in Florida ruled Monday that the controversial health-care reform law passed by Congress last spring is unconstitutional because it requires people to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.

"I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the act with the individual mandate," wrote U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, becoming the second federal judge to rule against the law signed by President Barack Obama in March, USA Today reported.

The law's constitutionality is expected to ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Florida court case marked the largest challenge so far to the health-reform law, including governors and attorneys general from 26 states opposed to the legislation.

Two other federal courts have upheld the constitutionality of the law -- a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's first two years in office and the first significant overhaul of the nation's health-care system in decades. It also pitted Democrats, who backed the reform for the most part, against Republicans, who opposed it.

Vinson had indicated in the past that he would likely rule that the so-called individual mandate overstepped constitutional limits on federal authority. "The power that the individual mandate seeks to harness is simply without prior precedent," Vinson wrote in an earlier opinion in October, the Wall Street Journal reported.

On Dec. 13, a federal judge in Virginia sided with that state's attorney general, who contended that the individual insurance mandate -- to take effect in 2014 -- violated the Constitution, making it the first successful challenge to the legislation.

The dispute over the constitutionality of the insurance mandate is similar to arguments in about two dozen health-care reform lawsuits that have been filed acro
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