A federal judge in Washington, DC, on Tuesday upheld the constitutionality of the new health care law's requirement that individuals purchase health care coverage or pay a fine.
US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler, the third justice to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), said Congress had a "rational basis for its conclusion that the aggregate of individual decisions not to purchase health insurance substantially affects the national health insurance market" and was "within its constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce when it chose to penalize people who forgo health insurance." She adds in her opinion, "There is nothing extraordinary about Congress's use of its Commerce Clause power to rein in the price of health insurance policies."
With Kessler's decision, the score is 3-2 in favor of the law. Recently, US District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola, Florida, ruled that the health care law's requirement that most Americans purchase insurance violates Congress's authority to regulate interstate commerce. Unlike a Virginia judge who invalidated the same clause in December but made no other recommendations, Vinson issued a declaratory judgment against the entire law.
The individual mandate is set to go into effect in 2014. It is expected that the Supreme Court will take up the health care reform law to settle the issue.
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