WASHINGTON BUREAU — Senior Judge Gladys Kessler, a judge who sits on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, has upheld the constitutionality of an Affordable Care Act mandate that could require many individuals to buy health coverage.
Kessler says in an opinion explaining the ruling that Congress was acting within the bounds of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution when it enacted Section 1501 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a major component of the Affordable Care Act package.
If implemented as written, the PPACA Section 1501 will require individuals with incomes over a certain level who have no religious objection to owning health coverage to have a minimum level of health coverage. The provision, which is set to take effect in 2014, will require individuals who fail to have a minimum level of coverage to pay a penalty.
Kessler was ruling on Margaret Lee Mead, et al, vs. Holder, C.V. 10-950.
She granted a motion to dismiss sought by the U.S. Justice Department.
MEAD VS. HOLDER
The suit was brought by Mead, 62, a self-employed resident of North Carolina who has not purchased health insurance for about 18 years.
Another plaintiff, Charles Edward Lee, Lee, 62, is a resident of Texas who has not had health insurance for 22 years.
Some of the other plaintiffs say they intend to seek medical services in the future, but intend to pay cash. Mead, Lee and a third plaintiff say they will refuse all medical services “for the remainder of their lives” for religious reasons.
THE KESSLER RULING
U.S. District judges in Florida and Virginia earlier have ruled that the PPACA individual health coverage ownership mandate is unconstitutional, because it would regulate inactivity, not simply affect actions individuals were already taking.