Florida judge rules health reform suit will go to trial

Remember last week when a U.S. District judge in Michigan ruled that health reform was constitutional, calling the healthcare market one that is fundamentally necessary? Not so fast, according to a Florida judge. 

Pensacola-based U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled yesterday that he believes it has yet to be determined whether the mandate requiring people to buy health insurance is constitutional or not, reports the Associated Press, setting up a hearing in mid-December to hear more from both sides. He wrote that members of Congress who voted in favor of the bill never actually referred to the penalties for not buying insurance as "taxes" perhaps to minimize any backlash they might receive from constituents. 

Further, Vinson wondered why states and taxpayers should have to wait until 2014 to file any lawsuits challenging the bill when some already are feeling the effects of the new law. 

"To be sure, responsible individuals, businesses and states will have to start making plans now, or very shortly, to comply with the Act's various mandates," Vinson wrote. "Individuals who are presently insured will have to confirm that their current plans comply with the Act's requirements and, if not, take appropriate steps to comply; the uninsured will need to research available insurance plans, find one that meets their needs, and begin budgeting accordingly; and employers and states will need to revamp their healthcare programs to ensure full compliance." 

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and South Carolina AG Henry McMaster both agreed with the judge's ruling, with the former calling it the "first step ... to upholding state sovereignty" against an unconstitutional law. 

"This is a complete victory for the states," McCollum added. "This is a battle we must win." 

For more information:
- read this Associated Press article, via Yahoo News
- here's the judge's ruling
- check out this other AP piece, via Businessweek