Judge rules health reform to be constitutional

In the first ruling on the multi-state lawsuit against health reform, a U.S. District Judge in Detroit sided with the Obama administration in rejecting the claim that requiring Americans to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. 

"The economic burden due to the Individual Mandate is felt by plaintiffs regardless of their specific financial behavior," Judge George Steeh said in his ruling. "The [Affordable Care] Act does not make insurance more costly, [and] in fact the contrary is expected; rather the Act requires plaintiffs to purchase insurance when they otherwise would not have done so." 

Furthermore, Steeh refers to the plaintiffs in the case as "participants in the healthcare services market" and "not outside the market," explaining that the healthcare market isn't one created by Congress, but rather one that is fundamentally necessary. 

Robert Muise, an attorney with Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., who opposes the ruling, believes that the case ultimately will go to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Detroit Free Press. "I think it's important that this decision be reversed to prevent Congress from overreaching the way it did in passing the original mandate," he told the newspaper. 

However, Timothy Jost, a professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law writing on the Health Affairs Blog, couldn't be happier with the decision. In his post, he called the arguments made by those who brought the lawsuit "nonsense," echoing Steeh's decision by explaining that one of the roles of insurance is to prevent the shifting of costs to others by the insured. 

"They claim that if Congress can require the purchase of health insurance, it will soon be passing laws requiring people to buy cars or eat spinach," Jost wrote. "You cannot drive a car in most states without liability insurance, or get a loan to purchase a home without homeowner's insurance....But if you don't own a home or drive a car, there is no reason to require the purchase of these auto liability or homeowner's insurance. Everyone can get sick or injured, however, and thus everyone must have health insurance to avoid cost-shifting." 

To learn more:
- read through Steeh's 20-page decision
- check out this Detroit Free Press article
- here's Jost's commentary

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