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Another Federal Court Gives A Thumbs-Up To Individual Mandate

09/09/11

  05:18:33 pm, by MedBen5   , 248 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Another Federal Court Gives A Thumbs-Up To Individual Mandate

Chalk up another win for the “pro-individual mandate” contingent – albeit a win that comes in an unexpected fashion. The Washington Post reports that a Virginia federal appeals court has thrown out a prominent case challenging the Affordable Care Act requirement that nearly all Americans must carry health insurance starting in 2014.

The Fouth Court of Appeals ruled that Virginia’s attorney general lacked legal standing to bring the case, essentially reversing a lower court judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitional. The three-judge panel – all Democratic appointees – also said it did not have authority to rule on the case.

Even before Congress and President Obama approved health care reform, Virginia passed a law barring the mandated purchase of health insurance in the state. The move set up a direct conflict between state and federal law, thus laying the groundwork for the court challenge. The Fourth Circuit dismissed the strategy, noting in its decision: “Under Virginia’s standing theory, a state could acquire standing to challenge any federal law merely by enacting a statute – even an utterly unenforceable one – purporting to prohibit the application of the federal law.”

This latest verdict puts the individual mandate supporters one up on their opponents, and adds to the likelihood that the Supreme Court will make the ultimate decision on the law’s legality. Assuming the court agrees to hear the case, a ruling could occur in spring of 2012 – which should make for an interesting lead-up to the presidential election.

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