Florida Judge Rules Affordable Care Act Unconstitutional

This afternoon, Federal Judge Roger Vinson issued a ruling in a lawsuit brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) alleging that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

Judge Vinson agreed with the states’ argument that the new law violates people’s rights by forcing them to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties (this is the so-called “individual mandate” provision). His ruling strikes down the entire law finding that the individual mandate provision cannot be severed from the rest of the law.

Attorneys for the Administration had argued that the states did not have standing to challenge the law and that the case should be dismissed (several other lawsuits brought against the law have been dismissed for lack of standing before arguments could be hear on their merits).

“The existing problems in our national health care system are recognized by everyone in this case. There is widespread sentiment for positive improvements that will reduce costs, improve the quality of care, and expand availability in a way that the nation can afford. This is obviously a very difficult task. Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution. Again, this case is not about whether the Act is wise or unwise legislation. It is about the Constitutional role of the federal government…I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate….Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void.” Vinson wrote.

Read Judge Vinson’s decision.

Vinson’s ruling may be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Two other federal judges have upheld the individual mandate, but a federal judge in Virginia also ruled the requirement unconstitutional. In May the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia is scheduled to hear challenges to two conflicting federal court ruling in that state.

Both the Florida and the Virginia cases are expected to proceed toward the U.S. Supreme Court.

For an overview of how the Affordable Care Act affects the colorectal cancer community, check out our webpage http://link.fightcrc.org/healthreformandyou.

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