Circuits Split Over Healthcare Law’s Constitutionality

Today the federal Court of Appeals for the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit struck down as unconstitutional the so-called individual mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires all individuals to either purchase health insurance coverage or pay a penalty.  The 11th Circuit case has been closely followed because it includes 26 states as plaintiffs.  Its decision is now at odds with the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit, which held in June that the individual mandate is constitutional.

The Richmond-based 4th Circuit, which has heard oral argument in Virginia’s separate lawsuit challenging the individual mandate, should be releasing its opinion in the coming weeks.

Widely seen as the crucial foundation of the wider healthcare-reform law passed in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to eventually rule on the individual mandate’s constitutionality, which may, in turn, lead to the unraveling of some of the law’s other provisions that are seen as dependent on the mandate.

The 11th Circuit’s opinion is here.


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