Feds to Appeal HCR Challenge Ruling

December 14, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – The U.S. Justice Department will ask a federal appellate court to review a federal judge’s Monday ruling that the health care reform law’s individual health coverage mandate is unconstitutional.

According to a Bloomberg news report, Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman declared in an e-mail sent to reporters that the government believes the Virginia federal judge’s ruling should proceed through the normal federal court appellate process.

“The department believes this case should follow the ordinary course of allowing the courts of appeals to hear it first so the issues and arguments can be fully developed before the Supreme Court decides whether to consider it,” Schmaler wrote. Federal appeals from Virginia are heard by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.  

The ruling is the government’s first loss in a series of challenges to the law in federal courts in Virginia, Michigan and Florida, where 20 states have joined an effort to have the statute thrown out.

In Monday’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson asserted that the reform law’s mandate that Americans have to buy health coverage or pay a penalty is an unconstitutional overreaching of the power of Congress under the Commerce Clause (see Judge Strikes Down HCR Coverage Mandate).

Justice Department lawyers in court papers called the mandatory insurance measure the cornerstone of the overhaul, pushing younger and healthier people into the insurance pool.