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Healthcare Constitutional Challenge

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Guest Jesse

Health-care survived its first legal challenge

 

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130410821

 

A federal judge on Thursday rejected an attempt to stop some key provisions of the new national health care law, saying Congress has the authority to require people to get insurance by 2014.

 

The ruling — the first in a challenge to the Obama administration's health care overhaul — came in a lawsuit filed in Michigan by a Christian legal group, the Thomas More Law Center, and four people who claimed lawmakers exceeded their power under the Constitution's commerce clause.

 

But U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh in Detroit said the insurance mandate, and the financial penalty if someone skips coverage, are not illegal. He said Congress was trying to lower the overall cost of insurance by requiring participation.

 

"Without the minimum coverage provision, there would be an incentive for some individuals to wait to purchase health insurance until they needed care, knowing that insurance would be available at all times," the judge said.

 

"As a result, the most costly individuals would be in the insurance system and the least costly would be outside it," Steeh said. "In turn, this would aggravate current problems with cost-shifting and lead to even higher premiums."

 

U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler noted the ruling "marks the first time a court has considered the merits of any challenge to this law."

 

"The court found that the minimum coverage provision of the statute was a reasonable means for Congress to take in reforming our health care system," Schmaler said. "The department will continue to vigorously defend this law in ongoing litigation."

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Guest No Obamacare

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center commented, “Obama Care is one of the most oppressive measures in the history of our Nation. And it was passed by Congress despite overwhelming opposition of the American people. It was not about reforming health care, but government seizure of unprecedented power over our lives. It transfers control of one-sixth of our Nation’s economy to Washington bureaucrats, and it will add an estimated 16,000 to 20,000 additional IRS agents to monitor tax returns and records to determine compliance with the new regulations. We will continue to challenge it in the courts.”

 

According to the Law Center, the court took the extraordinary step of concluding that Congress’ Commerce Clause power does not end at regulating economic activity. Rather, this power can be extended to regulate economic decisions whether made consciously or not. The court stated, “While plaintiffs describe the Commerce Clause power as reaching economic activity, the government’s characterization of the Commerce Clause reaching economic decisions is more accurate.”

 

Rob Muise, The Law Center’s senior trial counsel who handled the case commented, “This decision is ripe for appeal, which we intend to do expeditiously.”

 

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life. It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America. The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities. It does not charge for its services. The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501©(3) organization. You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.

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Guest LAW

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN

SOUTHERN DIVISION

THOMAS MORE LAW CENTER,

 

JANN DeMARS; JOHN CECI;

STEVEN HYDER; and SALINA HYDER,

Plaintiffs,

 

vs.

 

BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA, in his

official capacity as President of the

United States, et al.,

Defendants.

 

Case No. 10-CV-11156

HON. GEORGE CARAM STEEH

 

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR INJUNCTION AND DISMISSING PLAINTIFFS' FIRST AND SECOND CLAIMS FOR RELIEF [DOC. #7]

 

Plaintiffs Thomas More Law Center ("TMLC"), Jann DeMars, John Ceci, Steven

Hyder, and Salina Hyder filed their complaint to challenge the constitutionality of the

recently enacted federal law known as the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" ("Health Care Reform Act" or "Act")1, which was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. Plaintiffs seek a declaration that Congress lacked authority under the Commerce Clause to pass the Health Care Reform Act, and alternatively a declaration that the penalty provision of the Act is an unconstitutional tax. In addition, plaintiffs allege that the Health Care Reform Act violates states' rights under the Tenth Amendment, the Free Exercise Clause, and the Fifth Amendment's Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses.

 

The matter is presently before the court on plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary

injunction. As agreed to by the parties, and subsequently ordered by the court, trial and the preliminary injunction hearing on plaintiffs' Commerce Clause and tax power claims have been consolidated pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 65( a )(2). Also, the parties agree that there are no factual disputes to be resolved by the court before the matter can be decided as a matter of law. Oral argument was heard July 21, 2010.

 

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 

The Health Care Reform Act seeks to reduce the number of uninsured American and the escalating costs they impose on the health care system. In an attempt to make health insurance affordable and available, the Act provides for "health benefit exchanges," allowing individuals and small businesses to leverage their collective buying power to obtain prices competitive with group plans. Act §§ 1311, 1321. It provides for incentives for expanded group plans through employers, id. §§ 1421, 1513, affords tax credits for low income individuals and families, id. §§ 1401-02, extends Medicaid, id. § 2001, and increases federal subsidies to state-run programs. Id. § 2001( a )(3)( B ). The Act also prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing medical conditions, setting eligibility rules based on medical factors or claims experience, or rescinding coverage other than for fraud or misrepresentation. Id. §§ 1001, 1201.

 

Integral to the legislative effort to lower the cost of health insurance, expand

coverage, and reduce uncompensated care is the so called minimum coverage provision which requires that every United States citizen, other than those falling within specified exceptions, maintain "minimum essential coverage" for health care for each month beginning in the year 2014. If an individual fails to comply with this requirement, the Act imposes a penalty to be included with a taxpayer's return.

 

Congress determined that the Individual Mandate "is an essential part of this larger regulation of economic activity," and that its absence "would undercut Federal regulation of the health insurance market." Id. § 1501( a )(2)(H). Congress found that without the Individual Mandate, the reforms in the Act, such as the ban on denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, would increase the existing incentives for individuals to "wait to purchase health insurance until they needed care," which in turn would shift even greater costs onto third parties. Id. § 1501( a )(2)(I). Conversely, Congress found that by "significantly reducing the number of the uninsured, the requirement, together with the other provisions of this Act, will lower health insurance premiums." Id. § 1501( a )(2)( I ). Congress concluded that the Individual Mandate "is essential to creating effective health insurance markets in which improved health insurance products that are guaranteed issue and do not exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions can be sold." Id.

 

Plaintiff Thomas More Law Center ("TMLC") is a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. TMLC's employees receive health care through an employer health care plan sponsored and contributed to by TMLC. TMLC's health care plan is subject to the provisions and regulations of the Health Care Reform Act. The individual plaintiffs are United States citizens, Michigan residents, and federal taxpayers. None of them have private health care insurance, and each of them objects to being compelled by the federal government to purchase health care coverage. They contend that if they do not purchase health insurance and are forced to pay a tax, such tax money would go into the general fund and could go to fund abortions. Each of the individual plaintiffs objects to being forced by the federal government to contribute in any way to the funding of abortions.

 

VI. Injunctive Relief

 

The purpose of a preliminary injunction is to "preserve the relative positions of the parties until a trial on the merits can be held." University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 395 (1981). In this case, the court consolidated the hearing on preliminary injunction with a trial on the merits pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 65( a )(2). Plaintiffs' claim that the minimum coverage provision of the Health Care Reform Act is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause has failed on the merits. Defendants have also succeeded in overcoming plaintiffs' challenge to the penalty provision of the Individual Mandate. As these are the only issues before the court at this time, further consideration of plaintiffs' application for injunctive relief is not necessary.

 

CONCLUSION

 

For the reasons given above, plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction is DENIED and the court finds for defendants on plaintiffs' first and second claims for relief; those claims are DISMISSED

 

Analysis can be found here:

 

http://www.thomasmor...NTIFFSMOTIO.pdf

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Guest LAW

Judge Steeh wrote that the uninsured have a substantial effect on the health care market, a trigger for congressional regulation under the Commerce Clause, because they shift costs by foregoing insurance now only to pay later.

 

The Thomas More Law Center case is in collision with an earlier federal court ruling from Virginia, rejecting the government's motion to dismiss in a case challenging the individual health insurance mandate, due to there not being a court case that has extended the Commerce Clause or Tax Clause.

 

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA

Richmond Division

 

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

EX REL. KENNETH T. CUCCINELLI, II,

in his official capacity as Attorney

General of Virginia

Plantiff,

 

v

 

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS

SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT

OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES,

in her official capacity,

Defendant

 

Civil Action No. 3:10cv188-HEH

 

August 2, 2010

 

MEMORANDUM OPINION

(Defendant's Motion to Dismiss)

 

While this case raises a host of complex constitutional issues, all seem to distill to the single question of whether or not Congress has the power to regulate - and tax - a citizen's decision not to participate in interstate commerce. Neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor any circuit court of appeals has squarely addressed this issue. No reported case from any federal appellate court has extended the Commerce Clause or Tax Clause to include the regulation of a person's decision not to purchase a product, notwithstanding its effect on interstate commerce. Given the presence of some authority arguably supporting the theory underlying each side's position, this Court cannot conclude at this state that the Complaint fails to state a cause of action.

 

The Secretary's Motion to Dismiss will therefore be denied. Resolution of the controlling issues in this case must await a hearing on the merits.

 

http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/08/02/Va%20ruling.pdf

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Guest AmericanPatriot

"Judge in Florida Lets Challenge to Health Care Law Advance"

New York Times - Kevin Sack

 

"In a foreboding ruling for the Obama administration, a federal judge in Florida decreed Thursday that a legal challenge to the new health care law by officials from 20 states could move forward and warned that he would have to be..."

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/health/policy/15health.html

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