Federal judge deems healthcare mandate unconstitutional

Virginia federal judge Henry Hudson struck down the healthcare reform “individual mandate” requiring Americans to get health insurance by 2014.
This sets the stage for a legal struggle that’s likely to end up in the Supreme Court.
Hudson’s ruling contradicts two other federal court rulings — one in Virginia and Michigan — that said the mandate is constitutional.
However, this is the first case in which a judge entered a decision on the question of the constitutionality of the individual mandate at prompting of a state. The other cases were brought by individual parties.
Virginia already had a law on the books that says residents cannot be forced to buy health insurance.
Hudson said he was sure he wouldn’t be the last federal judge to rule on the issue. “The final word will undoubtedly reside with a higher court,” he said.
Last month the Supreme Court passed up its first opportunity to review the mandate. Its reasoning: Because no individual or business had been harmed by reform law’s mandate, no one can challenge the law yet.
White House unfazed
It’s unclear what kind of effect — if any — Hudson’s ruling could have, because federal law trumps state law.
But Obama administration officials say Hudson’s ruling does not create uncertainty about the implementation of the law’s current mandates.
“Our belief is that when all the legal wrangling is done, this is something that will be upheld,” Robert Gibbs, a White House spokesman was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
Bottom line: The mandate requiring individuals to purchase health insurance doesn’t kick in until 2014, and a lot could happen in the next few years to alter that provision.