VA Federal District Courts Disagree on Constitutionality of PPACA’s Individual Mandate

On Monday, the headlines and airways were filled with the news that a key provision in the sweeping healthcare overhaul was ruled unconstitutional.  Judge Henry Hudson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli’s motion for Summary Judgment against the federal government.  In a 42-page opinion[GC1] , Hudson said the provision of the law that requires most individuals to get insurance or pay a fine by 2014 is an inappropriate expansion of federal power that cannot be supported by Congress's power to regulate interstate trade. [1]

The case is one of several constitutional challenges from states, public interest groups, and other opponents filed since Congress passed health care reform earlier this year. These plaintiffs have argued that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority by including in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) an individual mandate provision requiring uninsured individuals to pay a penalty unless they purchased health insurance.

Legal Challenges to PPACA Gaining Steam

Some political pundits note that the Capitol Beltway is the unofficial dividing line between “The Federal Government” and “The Real World”.   Inside the Beltway, the federal government continues to move forward with implementing key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  Outside the Beltway, a series of legal challenges are being heard that question the Constitutionality of the new health care reform law. 

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