A Key Legal Victory for Health Care

Today, the Affordable Care Act, and the millions of Americans and small businesses benefitting from it scored another victory when the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law is constitutional. Today’s ruling in the case of Thomas More Law Center v. Obama is the first time an Appeals Court has ruled on the constitutionality of the law.

We’re gratified by today’s ruling, which came from judges appointed by Democratic and Republican Presidents who agreed that the law’s individual responsibility provision (sometimes called the minimum coverage provision) is constitutional. In today’s ruling, the court held that:

…the minimum coverage provision is a valid exercise of legislative power by Congress under the Commerce Clause...

Judge Martin also addressed the claim that the individual responsibility provision somehow regulates “inactivity.” He wrote:

Furthermore, far from regulating inactivity, the minimum coverage provision regulates individuals who are, in the aggregate, active in the health care market…The vast majority of individuals are active in the market for health care delivery because of two unique characteristics of this market: (1) virtually everyone requires health care services at some unpredictable point; and (2) individuals receive health care services regardless of ability to pay. Virtually everyone will need health care services at some point, including, in the aggregate, those without health insurance. Even dramatic attempts to protect one’s health and minimize the need for health care will not always be successful, and the health care market is characterized by unpredictable and unavoidable needs for care.

Judge Sutton agreed that the individual responsibility provision is constitutional and wrote:

In choosing how to regulate [people who choose to self-insure], Congress also did not exceed its power.

There are a number of cases regarding the Affordable Care Act that will continue to be heard in courts nationwide, and at the end of the day, we are confident the constitutionality of these landmark reforms will be upheld.   For more information about the individual responsibility provision, check out this post I wrote in May that outlines the importance of this provision.

Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor

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