Florida Federal Judge Declares Individual Mandate and the Reform Law Unconstitutional Appeal to Supreme Court Likely
February 1, 2011
On Jan. 31, 2011, Florida U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson, declared the "individual mandate" of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) unconstitutional, ruling the government cannot require Americans to purchase health insurance starting in 2014. Vinson concluded that, "Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void."
The Department of Justice will appeal the decision in this case, which was filed in March 2010 by Florida and joined by 25 other states. The constitutionality of the individual mandate is expected to eventually be decided by the Supreme Court.
In December 2010, a Virginia federal district court decided against the individual mandate, but didn't declare the entire law unconstitutional. Two earlier decisions in Virginia and Michigan found the mandate constitutional. Other cases are pending while several other lawsuits have been dismissed.
Under the PPACA, starting in 2014, individuals must be enrolled in a health insurance plan that meets basic minimum standards. Health care exchanges, also starting in 2014, will provide a new insurance marketplace where individuals and small businesses can buy qualified health benefit plans.
It's still unknown if the Supreme Court will agree to bypass the federal appeals courts and hear the appeal of one of the federal court decisions. Meanwhile, Florida Governor Rick Scott recently announced that the state would halt its preparations for implementing PPACA. Until the Supreme Court rules on the mandate or Congress amends the law, Cigna's recommendation is to administer our plans in accordance with PPACA guidelines. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, probably in 2012. For updated information as the case progresses, please visit www.InformedonReform.com.
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