Health Care

Florida Judge Rules Health Reform Law Unconstitutional

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Today's big news is the decision of the judge in Florida striking down the health reform law. He found that it violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Now, this is 2 judges for, 2 against.

I haven't finished reading all 78 pages. I think there's no question that the judge was wrong when he said that, since the individual mandate is unconstitutional, the whole law is unconstitutional. That's the easy part -- courts are supposed to try to salvage a statute if part of it is unconstitutional. This judge went further than any other judge to have ruled on health reform, saying without the individual mandate, the whole reform law falls. The White House charges him with judicial activism. That's usually something of which conservatives accuse judges! Another White House official said the decision is "dubious."

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There's no question in my mind that this is going to the Supreme Court. Although the judge did not rule that the law doesn't have any effect while on appeal, the 26 states who brought the lawsuit say they don't have to follow the law while it's on appeal, leaving great confusion and mess. The Justice Department may try to get a stay of the decision pending appeal, I suspect, but that's risky -- if they ask for a stay and it's denied, then the law is going to be frozen while on appeal. And that means all of the good things that have already taken effect would be gone -- a very confusing situation for all involved.

The judge did say that the federal government has the right to expand Medicaid, so the states lost that part of the case.

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You can read excerpts here.

Were I a Democrat health reform supporter in Congress, I think I'd be thinking about ways to recraft the law without the individual mandate, which would make all this court nonsense go away. It makes me nervous to leave this in the hands of 5 Justices of the Supreme Court. And there's no question that this ruling gives health reform opponents some fire power. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin will be holding hearings on the law's constitutionality.

Meanwhile, many Americans apparently don't even know the law was passed 10 months ago and has begun to take effect.

In other news, concierge medical care is beginning to become available at a cheap price tag.

This is an interesting essay by a doctor about what it's like to be a doctor these days.

Tort reform? How about trying mediation? Interesting.

Health information remains one of the most popular uses of the internet.

Disappointment about losing the Super Bowl can harm one's heart. Really. So I hope your team wins.

And that's today's news. Jennifer