Human Resources News & Insights

Judge upholds healthcare reform’s individual mandate

The Obama administration’s up, 3-2, following a Washington, D.C. federal judge’s ruling that the individual mandate portion of the healthcare reform law is constitutional.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler is the third judge to uphold the law, while two other judges have found it unconstitutional, writes Jonathan Perlow on the Courthouse News Service.

Perlow quotes from the judge’s 64-page opinion: “The controversy surrounding this legislation is significant, as is the general public’s interest in the substantive reforms contained in the act.

“It is highly likely that a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court will be required to resolve the constitutional and statutory issues which have been raised.”

Fifth ruling

A federal district court judge in Florida ruled Jan. 31 that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

The Florida court’s ruling was the second decision to strike down the law. In December 2010, a federal district court judge in Virginia ruled that the law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional.

Earlier, two other judges had ruled in the administration’s favor.

No surprise here: The two federal judges who ruled against the PPACA were appointed under Republican administrations. The three judges who upheld the law were appointed by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.

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  • brandon eckert

    according to UN universal declaration of human rights article 20 part 2 “No one may be compelled to belong to an association”

    how is the individual mandate of this bill not a violation of this article?

  • Lauren

    How is purchasing health insurance equivalent to belonging to an association?

    (I mean that seriously – no sarcasm is intended or implied.)

  • PO’d Guy

    Brandon – I don’t get this argument against requiring people to have health insurance. Where do most of the uninsured go for their health care? The hospital ER. Who pays for it? Not the uninsured. The hospital absorbs the cost into their operating expenses and guess what, they have to raise their rates and fees to cover it. Their costs go up and get passed on through to the insurance companies who have to raise their rates to cover those expenses. And guess who pays through those higher rates? I DO. AND I’M GETTING TIRED OF PAYING FOR THESE FREELOADERS. EVERYBODY should have insurance and share in the costs and benefits thereof.

  • Common Sense

    Frankly, it does not matter what the U.N. says. We are not governed by U.N. rules. We are goverened by the U.S. Constitution. The constitution clearly enumerates what powers the federal government has. All other powers are belong to the States. The Federal government simply has no authority to mandate the purchase of insurance. The founding fathers would be rolling over in their graves if they saw this. Please don’t reply with arguments of “common good” or “commerce clause”. It simply does not apply and has been abused to long. If anybody wants to mandate insurance purchasing they can promote a constitutional ammendment, anything short of that is unconstitutional. Mandating the purchase of insurance for the “common good” is the same as mandating that people purchase gym memberships for the common good. One could make an argument that the fed’s should mandate the purchase of new cross-training shoes. Both of these mandates might make people healthier, thus lower the medical costs and be help the “common good”. Please, how much intrusion by the federal government are people going to take. I agree that the society can not support freeloaders. We need a system that will enable anybody who wants insurance, a way to obtain it. Those who choose not to obtain insurance should not be given free medical care. It sounds harsh, but it necesarry for the survival of this great nation. This can be done a lot better than the way Obamacare goes about it.

  • HR Kansas

    People are mixing and matching cases. Two of the earlier cases that ruled in favor of the law didn’t have anything to do with the individual mandate. Specific challenges to the law have been made on specific parts of it – given that it’s over 2000 pages long a case challenging all parts of the law would take several years (decades?). My understanding was that the earlier cases won dealt with states fighting the law’s requirement that they set up state health insurance exchanges. The individual mandate was challenged in Virginia where it lost, then lost again in Florida.

    U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruling included:

    ‘Congress had a rational basis for its conclusion that the aggregate of individual decisions not to purchase health insurance substantially affects the national health insurance market,’ Judge Kessler wrote in a 64-page opinion. ‘Consequently, Congress was acting within the bounds of its Commerce Clause power.’

    Essentially people choosing not to participate in interstate commerce makes them subject to interstate commerce regulation. I can’t argue with that “logic” since there is no logic to argue.

  • MMAN

    An individual mandate to purchase healthcare insurance for all who use the nation’s healthcare system is no more unconsitutional than requiring individuals who use the nation’s highways to purchase automobile insurance. It’s there for the protection of everybody.

    Let’s see here, maybe if people would stop their cell phone plans that cost $100.00 a month for their data plans, texting plans, their regular minutes and the additional cost of addtional phones on the plans as well as laying down their tobacco, drinking and drug habits, they might be able to afford health insurance. Hmmm. But wait a minute, this would be, let’s say preposterous for some.

  • HR Kansas

    Except there is no law requiring that you buy a car and drive on the highway. If you choose not to buy a car you don’t have to buy insurance. By virtue of being an American and alive this law requires that you buy insurance.

    Then there is the basic fact that individual mandates are stupid to begin with.

    Obama stated it best:

    “But, it’s one that she’s (Hillary Clinton) tried to elevate, arguing that because I don’t force people to buy health care that I’m not insuring everybody. Well, if things were that easy, I could mandate everybody to buy a house, and that would solve the problem of homelessness. It doesn’t.”

  • Common Sense

    Mman, you are right, both are equally unconstitutional when done by the federal government. Congress passes laws all of the time that are unconstitutional. Just because they pass the law does not make it right. Passing one unconstituional law does not justify passing others. The state mandating car insurance is not unconstitutional.

    The federal government of the United States requires that all automobile drivers possess minimal insurance coverage. Generally speaking, minimal coverage can be defined as enough insurance coverage to pay for damages to other people and property in a car accident. Just how much coverage is defined as “minimal” coverage is an amount set by each state, not by the federal government. The federal law simply states that drivers must comply with the minimal standard that’s been set.

    Read more: Federal Laws on Automobile Insurance |

    Your second point is moot. Even though every one should purchase health insurance, some people don’t. It is not the governments place to mandate it.

  • PO’d HR Guy

    HR Kansas – Point taken on, “Except there is no law requiring that you buy a car and drive on the highway. If you choose not to buy a car you don’t have to buy insurance.” Correct. And conversely, if you do choose to buy a car and drive on the highway, you do have to buy the insurance. It protects you and all the other drivers that use the highways. Use the same logic regarding healthcare. If you use the healthcare system, you should be required to buy healthcare insurance. It’s pretty simple.
    If an uninsured driver gets in an accident, who pays? Maybe the uninsured driver, but he/she probably doesn’t have the bucks anyway to pay for your damage and medical bills, so the insurance company winds up paying. Then what? They charge their customers more to recoup their higher costs. Same with healthcare. The uninsured go to emergency rooms for their health care and they can’t be turned away. Who pays? The hospital absorbs the cost and ultimately everything is passed on through higher insurance rates to those who buy health insurance. That includes me and I’m tired of absorbing the costs of healthcare for those who don’t have insurance.

  • Common Sense

    PO’d HR Guy- Everything you say is right, if it is the states that are requiring the mandate. The mandate can not be done by the fed’s w/o ammending the constitution. It is that simple. Until that happens, I think it is time to start denying care to those who are insurable and choose not pay. No one should have to absorb the cost for others negligence.

  • HR Kansas

    Except no one is required to use the health care system. Using your “logic” the states can require everyone to buy car insurance because they MIGHT someday own a car.

  • PO’d HR Guy

    HR Kansas – But if I want to drive a car, I’m required to be licensed and drive an insured vehicle. So, I guess we wait until someone is sick and needs to go to the doctor, then have them buy the insurance? What do you think the chances are that an individual will go through life not needing to use the healthcare system? I’d say it’s pretty slim. So, no insurance, then no health care I guess. They can sit outside the hospital and die? That would say a lot about us as a society, doesn’t it?
    Answer this: if the uninsured need medical care and can’t afford it, who should pay for it?

  • HR Kansas

    Answer this: if the uninsured need medical care and can’t afford it, who should pay for it?


    In case you haven’t noticed, this law doesn’t answer that question.

  • Common Sense

    PO’d HR Guy Says: “So, no insurance, then no health care I guess. They can sit outside the hospital and die? That would say a lot about us as a society, doesn’t it?”

    Maybe it’s not what is says about us as a society so much as what it says to society. The loud and clear message would be, we as a responsible society with limited resources can no longer support deadbeat leeches who refuse to be responsible citizens. Once the message is sent, I would be willing to bet that enrollment in health insurance skyrockets. (children and others with extenuating circumstances would obviously be cared for as exemptions to the policy)