Yesterday, the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio decided with a 2-1 majority that the mandated minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires that a person purchase minimum health coverage or face a modest monetary penalty beginning in 2014, is constitutional under the Commerce Clause. The ruling is significant as it is the first decision by a federal appeals court on the Affordable Care Act.
Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a conservative judge and an appointee under President Bush, was included in the majority decision, making him the first Republican appointee on a federal bench to support the provision’s constitutionality. Judge Boyce Martin, a Democrat, joined Jeffrey in the decision stating, “Congress had a rational basis for concluding that the minimum coverage provision is essential to the Affordable Care Act’s larger reforms to the national markets in health care delivery and health insurance.”
Obama’s healthcare overhaul provision was challenged by a lawsuit from the conservative Thomas More Law Center. An attorney for the Thomas More Law Center suggested they are likely to appeal. State officials from Florida , Virginia , and 24 other states are also challenging the individual mandate in a case that was just heard in the 11th Circuit Court of appeals on Wednesday in Atlanta. This case in Atlanta is probably deemed the most important. Whatever the decision, the individual mandate in all probability will go to the US Supreme court for a final decision.
Currently under the ACA, daughters and sons under 26 years of age can receive insurance through their parents’ coverage, the donut hole for seniors is closing, and certain preventive procedures, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and pap smears, no longer require a co-payment or other direct costs. President Obama signed the final version of the Affordable Care Act in March. The final law will eventually add coverage for 32 million people, increasing access to family planning and preventive care.
Media Resources: Los Angeles Times 6/29/11; USA Today 6/29/11; Associated Press 6/29/11; Feminist Newswire 5/111//; Feminist Newswire 2/1/11