What editorial writers are saying about ruling in Virginia's health reform lawsuit
■ A federal judge ruled that the individual insurance mandate in the health reform law is unconstitutional.
Posted Dec. 27, 2010.
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The Dec. 13 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson was the first against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, although judges in two other cases came to the opposite conclusion.
ObamaCare loses in court
Liberals are attacking Judge Hudson because he was appointed by George W. Bush, but his ruling is relatively narrow. He didn't strike down the rest of ObamaCare even though it lacked a severability clause, and he didn't enjoin the law's implementation pending appeal. His opinion also doesn't touch Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's long-shot claim that his state's "health freedom" law can nullify an act of Congress.
Uncertain mandate on health care
Without the mandate, a lot of people will wait to buy coverage until they get sick, effectively allowing them to escape much of the burden of universal coverage while enjoying the benefits. The question will eventually have to be answered by the Supreme Court. If the court were to overturn this requirement, Congress and the president would have to look for other, less reliable ways to induce individuals to obtain health insurance, including more generous federal subsidies. Chicago Tribune, Dec. 13
Ruling on health law offers a victory for freeloaders
Troublingly for the judiciary, which is supposed to be politically independent, judges so far have divided along the same political lines Congress did when the law passed: Democratic-appointees for, Republican-appointees against. USA Today, Dec. 13
An unsettling second opinion on health care
The political nature of the court decisions suggests that Obama's achievement isn't yet down for the count -- it's just a matter of waiting for the right court and the right time, at least until the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the case. San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 14
Congress needs to amend health care, not repeal
Hudson's argument is that the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause doesn't give Congress the authority to compel people to buy health insurance. But the way the law is actually written calls for a change in the Internal Revenue Service code, requiring Americans to pay a tax if they don't have health insurance from either a private or government source. Aurora (Colo.) Sentinel, Dec. 13
The latest health care decision
Judge Henry Hudson concluded that Congress can't regulate "economic inactivity," the failure to buy health insurance, as if it were "economic activity" that affected interstate commerce. Yet it seems clear that decisions not to buy insurance will, in the aggregate, affect costs in the broader health care markets. The New York Times, Dec. 13