Florida Federal Court Finds Affordable Care Act Unconstitutional


A judge in Florida recently determined that health care reform legislation passed in 2010 is unconstitutional due to its individual insurance mandate. This marks the second time in as many months the Affordable Care Act has come under fire: in December 2010, a Virginia judge also struck down the mandate.

On Monday, January 31, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida held that the individual insurance mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional. Beginning in 2014, the mandate will require most uninsured people to either obtain government-approved health insurance or pay a financial penalty. In December 2010, a Virginia court also struck down the insurance mandate (see Virginia Federal Judge Rules on Constitutionality of U.S. Health Care Law Reform). Unlike the Virginia decision, however, the Florida decision found the ACA in its entirety to be unconstitutional, concluding that the insurance mandate is so substantively “essential” to the ACA that the law could not be implemented without it. The court also noted that, in enacting ACA, the U.S. Congress omitted severability language that is commonly included in most legislation.

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