Appeals Court Rules Mandatory Health Care Coverage Unconstitutional

The legal battle over health care reform continued this morning after an appeals court in Atlanta ruled that the portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requiring Americans to have some sort of health insurance is unconstitutional.

The Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit did not deem the entire bill as unconstitutional like a District Court judge in Florida had ruled in December.

The 11th Circuit decision differs from a June ruling by an appeals court panel in Detroit, which determined that the mandatory coverage portion of the legislation falls under the umbrella of the Commerce Clause because an individual’s decision to not purchase health insurance qualifies as an act that has a direct impact on interstate commerce.

There is still one appeals court, the Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, VA, that has yet to issue a ruling on the act. It heard arguments from both sides in May.

In the end, these decisions are all just the opening act for the inevitable Supreme Court showdown. Earlier this year, the Attorney General of Virginia had asked the Supremes to allow his case against the act to skip over the appeals process and be heard immediately. The Court ruled in April that it would not hear arguments on this law until after the lower courts had done so.

Appeals court rules against Obama healthcare law [Reuters]