Judge deals another blow to Obamacare

by Leslie Turk

A federal judge in Florida struck another blow to the Obama administration's health care overhaul.

A federal judge in Florida struck another blow to the Obama administration's health care overhaul, this time throwing out the entire law. Because of the mandate that requires people to purchase health insurance, the entire law must be voided, U.S. District Judge Roger Vincent ruled Monday.

Vincent became the second federal judge to rule that the historic health care reform act is unconstitutional, giving more momentum to Republicans who have been vowing to repeal it. Vincent wrote: I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the act with the individual mandate. That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and inequities in our health care system. The health care market is more than one-sixth of the national economy, and without doubt Congress has the power to reform and regulate this market. That has not been disputed in this case. The principal dispute has been about how Congress chose to exercise that power here.

The Obama administration immediately pledged to appeal the judge's ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, warning that health care costs would soar if the law is overturned. The case appears headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Opponents of the legislation, including Louisiana's Democratic attorney general, were elated by the ruling. Buddy Caldwell, who joined 25 other states in a lawsuit filed against the law last March, applauded the ruling, noting that the court also found that the individual mandate is not "severable" from the rest of the act. "If Congress could force Americans to buy health insurance, it could force Americans to buy anything. Everyone agrees our system of health care needs reform, but the Constitution places limits on what Congress can force people to do," Caldwell said. "The individual mandate plainly exceeded those limits, and the court rightly struck it down, and the entire Act along with it."

The AG said the court recognized that when Congress required every American to buy federally-approved health insurance - or pay a fine - "it did something literally unprecedented in our nation's history."