August 13th, 2011 – In a blow to President Obama’s administration, a federal appeals court overturned an earlier ruling and declared that the requirement that Americans have health insurance or be subject to fines is unconstitutional. In a 2-1 decision, judges decided that the mandate represented a unprecendented” expansion of federal power.
However, the fate of the “individual mandate” will not be decided until the Supreme Court’s ultimate decision, which is expected by June of 2012 and before the next major election.
Many insurance industry experts feel that the individual mandate is essential or else some people will wait until they are ill to purchase health insurance, which would drive up premiums for everyone else. Of course, for those who take that gamble there is a large risk that they may an accident or require emergency treatment and there would be no time to get coverage.
The dissenting opinion from Judge Stanley Marcus, stated “At bottom, Congress rationally concluded that the uninsured’s consumption of healthcare services shifts enormous costs onto others…and the individual mandate directly addresses this cost-shifting problem.”
How this will all play out remains to be seen and we’ll have to wait until the Supreme Court’s ultimate ruling in mid-2012. If the 2012 elections provide a sufficient shift in controlling power to the Republicans that could also impact the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010.