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Health Care Law Ruled Unconstitutional by 11th Circuit Court of Appeals

by Lauren M. Nelson, JD on August 12th, 2011

Today the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled a main provision of the federal health care law unconstitutional. Last year 26 states, including Texas, filed suit in Florida to strike down the federal health care law. On January 31, 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson ruled the law unconstitutional and, not surprisingly, his decision was appealed.

In Florida v. United States Dept. Health & Human Serv., in a split 2-1 decision, the 11th Circuit held Congress exceeded its authority by requiring individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. The Court found the individual insurance mandate unconstitutional, but upheld the remainder of the law. The Court reasoned the unconstitutional provision could be severed from the law with other provisions remaining “legally operative.” Ruling against the states, the panel held the law’s expansion of Medicaid constitutional.

In addition to the 11th Circuit Court, the 4th and 6th Circuit Courts have heard challenges to the constitutionality of the health care law. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the individual mandate in June 2011. The 4th Circuit has not yet issued opinions on the two challenges it heard in May.

The U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately decide the constitutionality of the federal health care law. It is anticipated that the Court will address this issue in its next term which begins in October and runs through June 2012.

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From → Health Law