Second Court Rules Against Affordable Care Act

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While there are still questions about how Chiropractic may fare in a reformed health care environment, there are now increasing questions about whether or not Congress can do what it did regarding passing the law in the first place. In a decision released  Monday that  declared most of the recent health care legislation to be unconstitutional, a Federal Judge in Florida has determined that not only did Congress exceed its authority when it mandated that everybody must purchase health insurance by 2014 or face big fines, but also that the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) must be voided. The reason? The controversial provision that requires everyone to buy health insurance--called the ”individual mandate”--is so thoroughly enmeshed with the rest of the act that it is impossible to separate one from another.  

The Honorable Roger Vinson, from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Pensacola, stopped short of directing the federal government to stop implementing the law, but the ruling is the harshest legal action yet against the ACA. Hansen is the second federal judge to rule against the ACA, while two other federal judges have ruled in favor of the Act.

According to Vinson’s 78-page ruling, which was released Monday afternoon of January 31st, “There is widespread sentiment for positive improvements that will reduce costs, improve the quality of care, and expand availability in a way that the nation can afford…This is obviously a very difficult task. Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution.” And again, “The act, like a defectively designed watch, needs to be redesigned and reconstructed by the watchmaker,” Judge Vinson wrote.

The case will likely move now to the Appellate Circuit Court, where other earlier rulings are now being challenged, and the ACA is almost certainly headed to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on January 19th to repeal the two pieces of legislation that make up health care reform by passing H.R. 2 or "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act", with 245 votes for and 189 against. That bill is unlikely to survive in the Senate, however. And if it does, the White House would likely veto it.

The case in Monday's ruling, brought by 26 state governors or attorneys general, as well as an association for small businesses, yielded the most sweeping decision against the ACA so far and technically could be considered to have the weight of an injunction, which would forestall an further implementation until the matter is resolved. Plaintiff states have indicated that this ruling gives them from abiding with the terms of "Obamacare". However some administration officials been quoted as saying that the ruling is "an outlier" and well beyond the mainstream of legal opinion, and that the White House will "proceed apace" with implementation of the health care reform laws.

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