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NAVIGATION
PNHP RESOURCES

Medicaid is constitutional; mandate isn't

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA PENSACOLA DIVISION

STATE OF FLORIDA, by and through Attorney General Pam Bondi, et al.;
Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, et al.,
Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. Medicaid Expansion (Count Four)

Accordingly, summary judgment must be granted in favor of the defendants on Count IV.

II. Individual Mandate (Count One)

The individual mandate is outside Congress’ Commerce Clause power, and it cannot be otherwise authorized by an assertion of power under the Necessary and Proper Clause. It is not Constitutional. Accordingly, summary judgment must be granted in favor of the plaintiffs on Count I.

I must conclude that the individual mandate and the remaining provisions are all inextricably bound together in purpose and must stand or fall as a single unit. The individual mandate cannot be severed.

Injunction

Thus, the award of declaratory relief is adequate and separate injunctive relief is not necessary.

Conclusion

For the reasons stated, I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate. That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and inequities in our health care system. The health care market is more than one sixth of the national economy, and without doubt Congress has the power to reform and regulate this market. That has not been disputed in this case. The principal dispute has been about how Congress chose to exercise that power here.

Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void.

For all the reasons stated above and pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment (doc. 80) is hereby GRANTED as to its request for declaratory relief on Count I of the Second Amended Complaint, and DENIED as to its request for injunctive relief; and the defendants’ motion for summary judgment (doc. 82) is hereby GRANTED on Count IV of the Second Amended Complaint.

In accordance with Rule 57 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Title 28, United States Code, Section 2201(a), a Declaratory Judgment shall be entered separately, declaring “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” unconstitutional.

DONE and ORDERED this 31st day of January, 2011.

ROGER VINSON
Senior United States District Judge

Comment: 

By Don McCanne, MD

Judge Roger Vinson has ruled that the individual mandate in the Patent Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, as Judge Henry Hudson had ruled earlier. Judge Vinson went further and ruled that the individual mandate cannot be severed from the rest of the Act, and, therefore, the entire Patent Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

He also ruled that "officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court. As a result, the declaratory judgment is the functional equivalent of an injunction."

There are two fundamental decisions in this summary judgement:

1) The individual mandate to purchase private health insurance is unconstitutional. Since he has ruled that the mandate cannot be separated from the rest of the Act, the entire Act is unconstitutional.

2) Medicaid is constitutional. Summary judgement in support of Medicaid expansion was granted on behalf of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Forget the Supreme Court. Let's walk away from the unconstitutional Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and instead enact the constitutional Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. It's less expensive, works better, and includes all of us.

As Judge Vinson stated, "That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and inequities in our health care system."