NPR logo Judge Affirms Health Insurance Mandate In Federal Overhaul


Judge Affirms Health Insurance Mandate In Federal Overhaul

Score one for Team Obama on health overhaul.

A U.S. District Court judge in Detroit rejected a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal law overhauling health care. hide caption

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In the first ruling on the constitutionality of the law overhauling health care, a federal judge in Detroit rejected a challenge by the Thomas More Law Center and four people it represented. A bunch of other suits are pending, including a big one in Florida that's likely to go to trial before too long.

The basic thrust of their claim, like others lodged against the administration's health law, is that its mandate for just about everyone to have insurance coverage starting in 2014 violates the commerce clause of the constitution.

No problem, said U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh in a ruling issued Thursday. A mandate is needed to make the market for insurance more affordable for all:

Without the minimum coverage provision, there would be an incentive for some individuals to wait to purchase health insurance until they needed care, knowing that insurance would be available at all times. As a result, the most costly individuals would be in the insurance system and the least costly would be outside it.

And, it's quite OK for the feds to use a tax penalty to enforce the mandate, he also.

So, he denied the plaintiffs' move to have overhaul halted and tossed the lawsuit.

If you're interested in the full decision, you can find it below. One highlight is on page 13, where we learn how health coverage, marijuana and interstate commerce are intertwined.

Just because you grow pot for your own personal use, doesn't mean it's legal Steeh notes:

[T]he Supreme Court sustained Congress's power to impose regulations on individuals who claimed not to participate in interstate commerce, because those obligations were components of broad schemes regulating interstate commerce.