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PPACA: Obama Administration Appeals Vinson Ruling

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other government agencies have asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a Florida federal court ruling declaring the Patient Protection and Affordable Act to be unconstitutional.

Lawyers at the U.S. Department of Justice have filed an appeal with the 11th Circuit Justicefrom summary judgment orders issued by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson.

Vinson, a judge in Pensacola, Fla., issued the orders in connection with State of Florida et al. vs. United States Department of Health and Human Services et al., (Case Number 3:2010-cv-00091-RV).

Vinson ruled in January that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a major component of the Affordable Care Act package, is unconstitutional because the “minimum essential coverage” provision in the act, or individual health insurance ownership mandate, would regulate inaction, by requiring some individuals to take active steps to buy commercial health insurance, rather than simply regulating people’s actions.

Vinson granted a 7-day stay to the Obama administration last week. He made the stay contingent on the administration seeking a quick appellate court review.

The docket number for the appellate court case is 11-11021.

Minimum Essential Coverage Provision

If PPACA takes effect as written, the minimum essential coverage provision will require most individuals to buy health coverage starting in 2014.

Many people with incomes above a certain level who do not get health coverage from their employers will have to buy a minimum level of health coverage or else pay a penalty. The provision provides for exceptions for individuals with religious objections to owning health coverage and individuals who cannot find affordable health coverage.

Health insurers have argued that they can provide affordable health coverage for all, without basing rates on health status, only if the government requires all people – including relatively young, healthy people – to have health coverage.

Vinson has ruled that, because, in his eyes, the individual mandate is unconstitutional, and because PPACA is not written in such a way that the mandate can be considered separately from the rest of the act, “the entire act must be declared void.”

More PPACA court case coverage from National Underwriter Life & Health: