The Washington Post:
A federal judge in Michigan ruled Thursday that the new health-care overhaul law is constitutional, rejecting an argument that Congress lacked the power to create the legislation's "individual mandate," which requires virtually all Americans to purchase health insurance.It really does always come down to abortion doesn't it? These people are such broken records.
Other federal courts have already dismissed some challenges to the law on technical grounds - ruling, for instance, that the plaintiffs lacked standing. However, the decision issued Thursday by Judge George Caram Steeh of the Eastern District of Michigan is the first to reject a claim based on the merits, marking a notable victory for the Obama administration.
The plaintiffs, three people and the Thomas More Law Center, a nonprofit public interest law firm in Ann Arbor, had objected to being compelled to choose between buying health coverage that they do not want or paying a tax penalty that, they argued, would go into the nation's general fund and could end up paying for abortions.
They further argued that because the decision not to buy insurance is a form of inactivity rather than an economic activity, it is not covered by the clause of the Constitution that grants Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce.
However, Steeh found that "far from 'inactivity,' 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, collectively shifting billions of dollars . . . onto other market participants." Therefore, Steeh ruled, regulating this decision falls well within the scope of Congress's authority to regulate the health insurance market.
The judge also echoed the administration's contention that unless young and healthy people are required to purchase coverage, the pool of those who are insured would be skewed toward the sick, making it impossible for insurers to comply with protections such as the law's prohibition on discriminating against those with preexisting conditions.
"The court found that the minimum coverage provision of the statute was a reasonable means for Congress to take in reforming our health-care system," said Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department. "The department will continue to vigorously defend this law in ongoing litigation."
Anyways, while this ruling has no bearing on the other cases (though Judge Steeh's opinion will be considered) but it still sets a good precedent.