Debate over health care reform’s individual mandate rages on
A second appeals court has weighed in on the legality of the “individual mandate” contained in the federal health care reform law known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this time ruling that the mandate is unconstitutional. The ACA’s individual mandate is the requirement that by 2014 nearly all U.S. citizens must maintain health insurance coverage, or face a financial penalty. The constitutionality of this provision of the ACA has been the subject of much heated debate, with the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upholding its constitutionality last month. Now, the Eleventh Circuit, ruling on an appeal filed by several state attorneys general, has found that the individual mandate exceeds Congress’s power to regulate the states, and therefore is unconstitutional. However, unlike the district court decision at the trial level, the Eleventh Circuit found that the mandate was severable from the rest of the ACA, and therefore the entire law did not need to be struck down as unconstitutional (State of Florida v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 11th Cir, Aug. 2011).
Tips: The U.S. Supreme Court will almost certainly hear this case, or another like it challenging all or part of the ACA, possibly as early as this fall. Vigilant will keep members updated as new developments occur. In the meantime, the ACA is the law of the land and employers should be aware of how it will affect them and take any necessary steps toward compliance. If you have questions about how health care reform will affect your business, contact Kristine Bingman at Vigilant (800-733-8621 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
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