A federal appeals court ruled Friday against the mandate that forces individuals to buy private health-care insurance. This will help push the high court to take the case soon. And it should help better define freedom in personal health choices.
On Friday, a federal appeals panel ruled against the mandate – only a few weeks after another appeals court ruled in favor of it. Rarely does the high court wait to resolve conflicting decisions among the regional appellate courts – especially on a hot-button issue like the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The latest ruling, coming in a 2-to-1 decision by a panel of the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta, provides the strongest legal arguments yet for what could be a similar Supreme Court ruling against the mandate, perhaps by early next year.
The panel’s majority found the mandate violates the limits set on Congress by the Constitution and previous court rulings – limits that are “first principles,” or those designed to protect individual liberties, the right of judicial review, and the powers granted to states.
If the Supreme Court concurs, lawmakers would need to find other ways to finance universal health care. In writing the law, Democrats sought to finance it largely by forcing the young, the healthy, and those who rely on nonmedical means for health into buying private insurance. With millions more swimming in the risk pool, insurance companies could, in theory, afford the law’s expensive requirements on expanding coverage.