Obama’s healthcare reforms cause tricky debate among federal judges

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US Health Care Reform NewsA federal appellate judge panel with conservative inclinations has expressed apprehension regarding the Obama administration’s healthcare laws, but has also indicated that it may be premature to challenge the overhaul.

The case before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington involves a lawsuit that is arguing whether or not Obama’s massive healthcare reforms have caused Congress to step outside its authority in giving people the choice starting in 2014 to either purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

Former top George W. Bush aide, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who received his bench appointment from that president, voiced a “major concern” that the courts may be incapable of ruling on the constitutionality of the law until 2015. This is because there is a federal law which states that the majority of challenges to legislation relating to taxes cannot occur until a penalty or tax has been paid.

A Richmond, Virginia, federal appeals court has also cited that law to halt a different challenge to the healthcare reforms. This follows closely on the heels of two other appeals courts that have made differing verdicts; as one said that the legislation was unconstitutional and the other had upheld it. In all likelihood, the law will be reviewed by the Supreme Court before the Washington circuit will be able to reach its own opinion.

According to attorney Edward White, who represents the plaintiffs, “Congress cannot force people into private commerce and to buy a private product for the rest of their lives.”

However, Kavanaugh called attention to the fact that Congress does have the authority to regulate commerce and can order insurers to provide coverage to all Americans. He explained that “It won’t work without an individual mandate attached to it.”

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