August 12th, 2011
01:19 PM ET

Parts of health care law ruled unconstitutional

A federal appeals court has tossed out key provisions of the sweeping healthcare reform bill championed by President Obama, setting up a likely election-year showdown at the Supreme Court over the landmark legislation.

A divided 2-1 panel of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta on Friday found the law's "individual mandate" section, requiring nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties - was an improper exercise of federal authority.

"The individual mandate exceeds Congress's enumerated commerce power and is unconstitutional," wrote Chief Judge Joel Dubina. "This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives."

Significantly, the court concluded even though that key section to be unconstitutional, the entire law need not be set aside. In fact, the judges said law's expansion of the federal Medicaid program was constitutional, since states - which administer it - would not bear "the costs of the program's amplified enrollments."

This appeal resulted from in a massive lawsuit brought by Florida and 25 other states opposing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Filed under: Health • Health Care • Health care reform
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. bho

    They better not get rid of the insurance reforms. Things like pre-existing conditions and the ability to drop coverage. Seemed like everyone agreed these were good things and needed to be fixed. It's to bad it got lumped into a bunch of "other" legislation but that's another debate entirely.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hazel Meade

      If you allow people with pre-existing conditions to buy coverage, nobody will buy coverage until after they have a pre-existing condition.
      Why would you waste vmoney on health insurance when you are healthy, if you can buy it after you get sick?

      August 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alison

      Hazel... so someone with a pre-existing condition should just be left uninsured? Especially since some insurance companies will tell you pregnancy is a pre-existing condition. People like you make me sad.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chrissy

    you guys are all ignorant fools, you'll jump on the band wagon when ATLANTA decides things are unlawful.....really why don't they offer services for autistic children, they dont' even see it as a problem they just label them retards and shove them in a home when they are 18. the healthcare reform isn't hurting small businesses, small businesses need to be a little less greedy and offer health care to their full time employees, end of story. everyone should have health care plain and simple i'm sick of paying for those who don't!

    August 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whitney

      Chrissy, as a small business owner, I can barely afford health care coverage for myself, much less an employee! Do you realize just how much it costs for someone to obtain insurance coverage when they aren't part of an organization? It's not realistic. I'm not greedy; I'm barely surviving on what I make.

      August 12, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daryl

      "Youre sick of paying for those who don't?" You fool! Who do you think will pay for it if the health reform happens? YOU!!!!!!!!! That is if you are a worker. Since only 50% of us pay taxes, you may be one of the ones who are free loading off the backs of hard working Americans. Where do you people think the money comes to pay for these "benefits"? The government does not make money. NONE! It is operated by tax dollars. Every salary of an elected official, military operations and pay, roads, space, ALL of it is paid for by 50% of Americans!!! Enough!!!!

      August 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Allen

    Funny, I have lost my job before. I have been laid off, heck I was even fired. I do not remember thinking "Yea, now I can get me some free health care and food stamps." I was a single father with 3 kids. I didn't think "Yea, now my kids can get them some free insurance!" I was thinking "Damn, I better find a job!" So, I went and found another one. People whining about "if" they lost their job what would they do. Wringing their hands and all worried. I will tell you what you need to do. Find a job, and if you have an emergency go to the emergency room. Didn't anyone teach you how to take care of yourself? Sheesh...

    August 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tennyson98

      Why do you pay taxes if you are not willing to except help when the time is needed? I commend you on working hard to take care of your family, but dont you feel that having health care that will always be there for them would be better than not? What if at the age of 24 you child gets cancer? You going to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars for treatment? Being to proud to accept help is your issue. Not everyone is lazy, some people just get the short end of the stick.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allen

      I didn't need help that is my point. I was able to do it myself. Most people are able to help themselves. Just because there is help, doesn't necessarily mean it should be taken.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tennyson98

      100% agree. People should put a 100% effort into getting a job and not counting on the system to take care of them or fix it.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daryl

      Exactly!!! Well said!

      August 12, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tennyson98

    I love how people use the word socialism over and over. What do you think public roads are? They are a form of socialism. Let’s be real here, we consider ourselves a first world country. That’s barely true. All true first world countries have socialized healthcare that’s free with the idea of preventive medicine included, also a quality education systems that are teaching toward an economic based system. So next time you use anything that is provided by public funds you better stop using it right away. You don’t want to become a socialist. And really Obama care isn’t perfect but its great step in the right direction. It just needs to be perfected by normal people who are not controlled by drug companies and corrupt politicians. To have a president who cares about people and their wellbeing is not wrong and it’s not socialist.

    August 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Your first world countries also take 50% of your income to pay for all of that. The vast majority of people use roads – it makes sense for everyone to pay taxes for them. A lot of people choose to go to private schools so it makes no sense for me to pay taxes for everyone to go to school for free when maybe 50% choose to use it.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • LandofOpportunityNotHandouts

      All those countries with "free" healthcare has weeks of waiting to get to see a doctor. Canada, yes. U.K., yep. Everyone wants to blame insurance companies for trying to maintain a sustainable business. The energy should go into finding out why everything in healthcare costs so much. Then focus on the solutions to that and the rest will follow. I think the main thing wrong with BO's healthcare plan is making it mandatory and fining you if you don't comply with King BO.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ?

    Here's a thought.
    Lets issue cards to people who want to pay their taxes which allows them to use the highways, roads, buses, airplanes (FAA, TSA), eat food that has been graded by the FDA, use the parks system, call the police and fire dept., use prescription drugs (FDA), drink safe water, buy safe products, ride trains, send mail through the US Post, collect Social Security, draw from Medicare, and enroll in the new health care plan. The rest of you can keep your precious money and use it to pay a fee for all of these things as you go. Sound good? We'll see how long you can go without having a fit or dying from some low grade foreign, Walmart product.

    August 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daryl

      I like it!

      August 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tennyson98

      I love it. Perfect. Sign me up.

      August 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Allen

    Anyone who compares the interstate road system to socialized medicine hasn't a clue. Such shallow arguments point to how many in our society have become really dumb. And to say that other countries give "free health care" is just a really, really ignorant statement. The citizens are taxed to pay for the health care system. I am ok to pay taxes to help pay for the roads and infrastructure that make the country work. I pay for my own health care, I do not want to pay for yours...period

    August 12, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oallen

      The only problem is, you already do pay for others not having insurance. I don't want it either. The hippocratic oath of the doctors forces them to treat anybody walking into the emergency room. Who do you think pays for the guys who cannot pay, because he thought he does not need to pay for insurance. If you are consequently following through on your thoughts, then we need to have proof of insurance or your ability to pay for anyone regardless of the condition who walks into a hospital emergency room.
      Look at the hospital balance sheets and your eyes open up. Everybody should be forced to pay or set aside enough funds, so that they can pay for their hospital bills.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tennyson98

      Since you need a little more information to understand what socialized projects are here is small list.
      Social security. Medicare, Medicaid, Food stamps, Requirement of automobile insurance is a form of it, Enforced seat belt use also. It provides laws where it is believed the public is too stupid to police themselves. This is a form social. fire department, public library, public works, parks, eco preservations, roads, bridges, sidewalks, bike paths, armed forces, NASA, welfare, social security, Medicare, Medicade, subways, port authority, Electric Cooperatives, public transit.

      So by your argument then you should never collect a single social security payment, never touch a bridge or a road, or a sidewalk, don’t even think about taking your kids to a public library. I expect you to never call 9-1-1. I don’t want you to pay for anything that other might use.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • LandofOpportunityNotHandouts

      we pay into social security: not socialism. The reason its in trouble is that the govt back in Clinton's day used social security to "balance the budget" because it didnt show up on the books as a debt. Problem is, they've never paid it back. Government waste is totally out of control. stop the agencies with duplicate services, the lavish spending and travel at taxpayers expense. If you've done all you can do to control waste, then come to me if you still need more money.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jimmy

    Well there you go Nancy Pelosi, they read it and they found out what was in it.

    August 12, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. michaelfury

    It's right outside your door.

    August 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Allen

    I think some of the posters do not have jobs. I pay for social security and medicare through my payroll taxes. Don't you? Of course I should get social security and medicare when I retire. I have paid for it through payroll tax. But that is the problem to many people are taking from a system that have not paid into. Right now the us government is nothing more that a ponzi scheme

    August 12, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arran Webb

      Yes you should get it. The debate is why the cost of it is increasing exponentially faster than any other service in the country and why we can't seem to do anything to contain the always increasing costs. Why unionized workers have seen all their earned productivity increases go to higher health insurance premiums and no wage rises for a decade? Because the health industry is outside of the market and beyond the reach of the tools of economic restraint.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tennyson98

      You pay a small amount of social security, you get more back then you pay. With social security collecting interest and investing the money that is there, it increases the overall amount. it’s just like any business. This way they can pay you when you retire. And when you retire someone will be paying to they system for you to keep collecting your check. Everyone needs to do thier part. And we can agree the government spending is out of control and needs to be fix but people who are not puppets.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allen

      I looked at my payroll stub. I pay close to $300 a month in social security and medicare taxes. I have been doing that for 30 years now. I will probably be doing it for another 20 or so years. If that money was taken and put into some fixed rate interest bearing government account. I would probably be able to retire pretty well off. But I will not get near anything close to that. It will be a subsistence amount, if I am lucky. Just because it is done by the government doesn't mean it is that great a thing.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Alison

    I find it so ridiculously sad that so many of you are happy that this bill is being held up. How can you be okay with the fact that there are people out there that die every day because they are afraid to go to a hospital and face financial ruin because they don't have insurance? I get that this bill wasn't perfect, but something needs to be done. The system that we have now is VERY flawed. This whole ordeal just leaves me speechless.

    August 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. RJ FROM PA


    August 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arran Webb

      A basic but sensible logic that seems to be beyond the mindset of the health industry and policy makers. For a start the Federal Employee Benefits will have to be reduced – that includes politicians and bureaucrats – and there is our first hurdle and so far we can't get past that.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mike

    Social Security is going to collapse. We aborted our future. Demographically there simply are not the numbers to sustain the baby boomers. The trust fund is not a pile of money sitting there earning interest, it's a pile of I.O.U.'S sitting there wondering how they are going to be redeemed.

    August 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allen

      Finally someone gets it...Government hands out are simply promises. You can not bank on that. We should be upset that money is being spent in DC on things the tax code was not meant to support.....

      August 12, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Social Secutiry, in its current state, will not collapse. What will happen is the Federal Government wil borrow more money to pay those IOUs off. When those IOUs dry up, then Social Security will only be able to pay the amount Social Security collects in any given year. ILast I heard, this will happen in th 2020s. Social Security will probably be required to make each check smaller for each month. THis is similar to Medicare and Medicaid. Where the IOUs for those will be gone by the end of the decade. Last I have heard, by 2019, Medicare and Medicaid will only be able to pay out 75 – 80% of claims.

      August 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bob

    I agree with the 11 Circuti Court of Appeals. How can Congress require you to purchase anything for the rest of yrou life? THe individual mandate is just that. The Federa. Government requireing you to purchase health insurance. Just because I was born, I am now required topurchase something (for my entire life)! This is not a tax as the Democrats, Obama and HHS argued. If this was a tax, I would send money to Washginton, and the Federal Government would then provide me with free health care. This is not the case – I am required to get health care from my place of work or pruchase a health care package from a state listing of providers. This is also not like the requirement for car insurance. Remember – myself and everyone in the U.S. is not required nor are we provided with a car when we are born. We as people choose to purchase and drive a car.
    The U.S. Health Care system needs to be fixed. No one will argue with that. What we need is everyone in Congres, the President, and us citizens have open discussions on how to reform health care.
    We need to take a strong look at what our national goals in the health care industry are. Get a real educated costs of what we pay for. This is all costs, malpractice insurance, cost of courts, cost of drugs, nurses, doctors (along with traiing costs) along with medical equipment. This will give us a startign point as to where, as a nation, can cut costs. This also should be discussed open honestly by all parties.

    August 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mike

    Hey allen. How about some math. Start with 14.3 trillion. (That's a billion a day in interest). Plus 2.4 trillion debt ceiling increase between now and Nov 2012, equals 16.7 trillion ( can you spell debt service?), plus 7000 baby boomers retiring every day for the next nine years. And you say we are just going to borrow endlessly to solve this ? Nice.

    August 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. joe atkinson

    If they are not going to spend your tax money for the benefit of all,why are we paying taxes?

    August 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
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