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Florida judge strikes down health care overhaul

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A federal judge ruled Monday that the Obama administration's health care overhaul is unconstitutional, siding with 26 states, including Indiana, that sued to block it.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson accepted without trial the states' argument that the new law violates people's rights by forcing them to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties.

Attorneys for the administration had argued that the states did not have standing to challenge the law and that the case should be dismissed.

The next stop is likely the U.S. Supreme Court. Two other federal judges have upheld the insurance requirement, but a federal judge in Virginia also ruled the insurance provision violates the Constitution.

In his ruling, Vinson went further than the Virginia judge and declared the entire health care law unconstitutional.

"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," Vinson wrote in his 78-page ruling.

At issue was whether the government is reaching beyond its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce by requiring citizens to purchase health insurance or face tax penalties.

Attorneys for President Barack Obama's administration had argued that the health care system was part of the interstate commerce system. They said the government can levy a tax penalty on Americans who decide not to purchase health insurance because all Americans are consumers of medical care.

But attorneys for the states said the administration was essentially coercing the states into participating in the overhaul by holding billions of Medicaid dollars hostage. The states also said the federal government is violating the Constitution by forcing a mandate on the states without providing money to pay for it.

Florida's former Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum filed the lawsuit just minutes after Obama signed the 10-year, $938 billion health care bill into law in March. He chose a court in Pensacola, one of Florida's most conservative cities. The nation's most influential small business lobby, the National Federation of Independent Business, also joined.

Other states that joined the suit are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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  • Health Care Law
    You don't need to be a constitutional scholar to understand what the government's intent was. Taking over health care from insurance companies was the aim.

    Additionally, we should remember that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, especially when the few want it for free. We do not "owe" health care to anyone. If they can't get it, then that is the hand they have been dealt. If any choose to help, fine, but most of us don't want our government requiring us to subsidize someone else one more time. This is health insurance and it is not a right.

    And, no one should be told they have to play the game. Sorry to be crass, but no ticket, no laundry. We cannot afford any more giveaways.

    Keep it up and anyone with any money and sense will just move out of the US. Run off the rich and who pays the bills then?

    Hmmmmm?
  • Congress has the power to enact this law
    Under the commerce clause Congress can authorize just about anything, it just depends on how they achieve their end. Does it fall under the necessary and proper clause? Does it violate the enumerated powers? There are a few ways that the legislature could have written this law to unquestionably comply with the Constitution. It will be interesting to see which side the Court falls on.

    The funny part is that this law is getting most of it's opposition in the individual mandate. The easiest way around the constitutional problems with a mandate is to tax people without insurance and subsidize the insurance industry... which is much less "free market" than the healthcare law we have in its current form.

    Basically what the free market advocates received in the original bill was a compromise allowing the people to choose who they pay their money to, and thus eliminating the bureaucracy of subsidizing an industry as a whole. The preexisting condition coverage that most of the country wants does not work without everyone paying into the system. If this gets challenged on Constitutional grounds, and is found to be unconstitutional, Congress will just tax the people who do not purchase insurance, and funnel the money back to the insurance companies so they can achieve universal coverage of preexisting conditions. The only achievement of a successful Constitutional challenge would be to funnel tax dollars through the government to achieve the same end of the bill as it is currently written. Sounds pretty foolish to me. I would much rather have people pay for what they use directly and leave the bureaucracy out of it.

    It will be an interesting case to watch when it gets to the Supreme Court in the next few years. It will be a battle between Scalia and Ginsburg/Breyer. Thomas will be the swing vote... Stay tuned!

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