Second Court Rules Health Care Reform Law Is Unconstitutional

Monday, January, 31, another federal court — the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida — held that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is unconstitutional. More specifically, the court held that the individual health insurance mandate provision found in the PPACA, which would require most individuals to obtain health insurance or pay a fine, is unconstitutional, and since it can’t be severed from the PPACA as a whole, “the entire Act must be declared void.”

In reaching the decision, the court first addressed whether the individual mandate was an appropriate exercise of power under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The court determined that “activity” is required before the U.S. Congress can exercise its power under the clause and that the failure to buy health insurance isn’t “activity” but “inactivity.” The court noted, “To now hold that Congress may regulate the so-called ‘economic decision’ to not purchase a product or service in anticipation of future consumption is a ‘bridge too far.’ It is without logical limitation and far exceeds the existing legal boundaries established by Supreme Court precedent.”

The court also determined that the individual mandate cannot be authorized under the Necessary and Proper Clause.

This is the fourth federal court to address the PPACA’s constitutionality, but it is only the second time a court has determined that the legislation is unconstitutional. (In December, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia also held that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.) The U.S. Supreme Court may eventually have to decide the issue.

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