Since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was enacted last year, several state attorneys general and other private plaintiffs have filed lawsuits to repeal it. These lawsuits, among other issues, challenge the constitutionality of the mandate under PPACA that individuals purchase health insurance no later than 2014 or face a penalty. This is known as the “individual mandate.” This alert highlights the most prominent cases which have been decided at the federal district court level. It is very difficult to predict the eventual outcome of any of these cases. As a result, plan administrators, employers and insurers should be extremely cautious in making a decision to rely on any court decision, short of a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, to avoid compliance with any part of PPACA.
State of Florida v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Services
Decided on January 31, 2011, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division
At issue was whether the government is reaching beyond its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce by imposing the individual mandate. Judge Vinson declared the individual mandate of PPACA to be unconstitutional similar to other court decisions. However, Judge Vinson’s ruling went beyond previous cases, declaring PPACA unconstitutional in its entirety. An appeal is scheduled to be heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on June 8, 2011.
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