U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Conner of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued the ruling in a suit filed by Barbara Goudy-Bachman and Gregory Bachman, a self-employed couple who said they now have no health insurance. As have numerous other similar suits filed around the country, the Bachman’s complaint charges that the health reform law is an unconstitutional exercise of Congressional power.
In allowing the Bachman’s challenge to move forward, Conner rejected arguments by government lawyers defending the law that the couple could not prove they would personally face immediate harm from the law’s controversial “individual mandate” requiring most Americans to buy insurance or pay a penalty.
Conner accepted the Bachman’s contention that they are immediately impacted by the mandate – even though it doesn’t go into effect until 2014 – because they have to immediately factor health coverage costs into their financial planning. Plus, the couple argued, they have had to put off buying a new car because they wouldn’t be able to afford the payments and cost of the new health coverage when the requirement kicked in.
“The Bachmans allege immediate economic pressure as a direct result of the individual mandate,” Conner wrote. “The Bachmans’ decision to forego the purchase of a new vehicle in anticipation of future budgetary needs is not rooted in some remote contingency, but on a law with manifest budgetary implications in 2014.“
Conner continued: “The economic impact is immediate: the Bachmans must forego the purchase of a new vehicle and rearrange their finances in anticipation of the statutory requirement that they purchase insurance. Although it is certainly true that the Bachman’s circumstances may change, they must undertake financial planning and budgeting decisions now in preparation for the implementation of the individual mandate. The mandate will likely require a significant financial investment by the Bachmans. Changes in their family budget are required now and are reasonably traceable to the mandate. The Bachmans have no crystal ball. They must engage in financial preparation and reduced spending based upon their present circumstances in light of the impending effective date of the individual mandate.”
The case is Goudy-Bachman v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, M.D. Pa., No. 10-763.