A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that healthcare reform is unconstitutional and expects the Obama administration to honor that ruling while it’s being appealed. But states and private companies are continuing to plan and budget for it nonetheless.
The court ruled that Congress exceeded its constitutional powers in compelling Americans to buy health insurance. Judges elsewhere have ruled the law is valid or dismissed the cases on procedural grounds, while a judge in Florida will hear another case later this week.
In the meantime, though, employers and healthcare companies have to continue adjusting to the reform law’s many provisions. States will continue to set up their health insurance exchanges, and they’ve already budgeted for the additional 16 million people who will qualify for Medicaid under the law. And the Obama administration is unlikely to stop what it’s doing, since many of the provisions won’t take effect until 2014.
A key of the lawsuit is “economic inactivity.” The ruling says that while Congress can regulate interstate commerce, it can’t regulate…well, non-commerce, in this case the decision not to buy health insurance. The judge’s decision is online. (Politico, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, MSNBC)
*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*
Last month the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual survey on health insurance coverage. The results were startling, yet few politicians seemed to take notice:
– The number of people with health insurance declined for the first time ever in almost two decades. In fact, as reported by CNN this is the first time since the Census Bureau started collecting data on health insurance coverage in 1987 that fewer people reported that they had health insurance: “There were 253.6 million people with health insurance in 2009, the latest data available, down from 255.1 million a year earlier.” The percentage of the population without coverage increased from 15.4 percent to 16.7 percent.
– Almost 51 million U.S. residents had no health insurance coverage at all, a record high, and an increase of almost five million uninsured from 2008.
– Fewer Americans received health insurance coverage through their jobs, continuing a decade-long trend. The number covered by employment-based health insurance declined from 176.3 million to 169.7 million, reports the Census Bureau. Based on the Census numbers, the Economic Policy Institute observes that “the share of non-elderly Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance declined for the ninth year in a row, down from 61.9% in 2008 to 58.9% in 2009, a total decline of 9.4 percentage points since 2000.” Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*