Judge: Supreme Court Voice Needed on Health Care Reform


The Florida judge who declared the federal health care reform law unconstitutional "updated" his own ruling yesterday and urged that "the sooner this issue is decided by the Supreme Court, the better off the entire nation will be."

On January 31, 2011, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson (Pensacola, Florida) determined that the “individual mandate” provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is unconstitutional and declared the remainder of the Act void because it was not severable.  The defendants (the Obama administration) filed a motion to clarify with the court, suggesting that there would be adverse consequences from an immediate halt of implementing the Act given that many provisions are now in effect and that several other district court judges have upheld the law.

Yesterday, the judge stated that while his original order “was as clear and unambiguous as it could be, it is possible that the defendants may have perhaps been confused or misunderstood its import.”  He did however, treat the clarification as a stay from his original order and as such granted it.  He conditioned the stay upon the defendants filing their anticipated appeal within seven days of his order, either in the Court of Appeals or with the Supreme Court. He chastised the administration that it had been more than a month since his order and the defendants had not filed their notice of appeal.

Twenty six states, including Indiana, are party to the lawsuit. On Wednesday at the Indiana Statehouse, a joint meeting took place with the House and Senate Insurance and Health Committees. Attorney General Greg Zoeller commented on PPACA and offered his view that in those states that were party to the suit the Act was unenforceable. Those comments do not apply a day later as Judge Vinson’s stay to his original order was granted.