A federal judge in Florida has deemed the health care reform unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge, Roger Vinson, sided with 26 other states in a suit against the bill, arguing that the law violates people’s rights by mandating them to buy health insurance or face costly penalties. Federal attorneys claim that the state has no ground to determine whether the law is or is not unconstitutional. The case is likely to make it to the Supreme Court within the next few months.
The provision at the heart of the debate is a measure that states that citizens must purchase health insurance by the year 2014. Failing to do so will result in fines and, in the most severe circumstances, prison time.
According to the law, states are required to establish insurance exchange programs. The exchanges will help citizens purchase affordable health coverage that they would not be able to find by themselves. They will also offer competition for private insurance companies, driving premiums lower and inciting more comprehensive plans to be developed.
Currently, only one other judge has joined Vinson is declaring the entire law as unconstitutional: The federal judge of Virginia.
Administration attorneys claim that the health care program is part of an interstate commerce system. According to them the government is able to levy penalties on citizens that decide not to purchase insurance because they will be consumers of medical care one way or another.
Whether the bill is, in fact, the government overstepping its boundaries or attempting to improve the lives of its citizens will be an issue the Supreme Court will have to decide upon.