Michigan Judge Rules Individual Mandate In Health Law Is Constitutional

Reuters: “A U.S. judge on Thursday upheld a key part of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law that requires Americans to obtain coverage, rejecting a challenge by a conservative interest group. The Thomas More Law Center filed a lawsuit in Michigan the day Obama signed it into law. It argued that the provision requiring Americans buy coverage by 2014 under threat of penalty was beyond Congress’ authority and an unconstitutional tax” (Pelofsky, 10/7).

CongressDaily: “U.S. District Court Judge George Steeh, appointed by former President Bill Clinton, found that the mandate is not unconstitutional and cited Supreme Court rulings rejecting claims that individuals who choose not to engage in a market are beyond the reach of the ‘commerce clause'” (10/7).

Politico: “Steeh’s ruling represents a major legal victory for the Justice Department since the decision rejects the central legal argument against the landmark health care reform bill Obama signed in March and a provision that has become a focus of popular anger on the right. … ‘The health care market is unlike other markets. No one can guarantee his or her health, or ensure that he or she will never participate in the health care market. Indeed, the opposite is nearly always true,’ wrote Steeh” (Gerstein, 10/7).

The Hill: “Steeh also notes that, without the individual mandate — and because the new law bans insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions — consumers would have every incentive to wait until they get sick to buy coverage. … At least two additional suits challenging the constitutionality of the insurance mandate — one in Virginia and the other in Florida — are still pending” (Lillis, 10/7).

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