Congress has the authority to make people take action to buy health coverage because the health care market is different from most other markets, according to a 3-member panel at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The 3-member panel has decided in Thomas More Law Center vs. Barack Obama (Case Number 10-2388) to uphold a determination by the U.S. District Court in District that the minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) is constitutionally sound. One judge on the panel, James Graham, has agreed with the majority on procedural matters but has concluded that the PPACA coverage ownership mandate is unconstitutional.
Members of Congress and others are trying to repeal PPACA or block implementation of all or part of the federal legislative package.
If the act takes effect as written and works as supporters expect, PPACA Section 1501 – the “minimum essential coverage provision” – will require many people who have incomes over a minimum level to have a minimum level of health coverage or else pay a penalty. PPACA also would require many employers to offer health coverage or else pay a penalty.
PPACA supporters say the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the authority to regulate the health insurance market.
The plaintiffs in the Thomas More case — the Thomas More Law Center, Ann Arbor, Mich., and four Michigan residents – have argued that Congress has no authority to make them buy health coverage.
The 6th Circuit has held that Congress does have the authority to require the purchase of health coverage.
“Congress may regulate economic activity, even if wholly intrastate, that substantially affects interstate commerce,” U.S. Circuit Judge Boyce Martin writes in an opinion for the 6th Circuit majority. “Congress may also regulate even non-economic intrastate activity if doing so is essential to a larger scheme that regulates economic activity…. Congress had a rational basis for concluding that, in the aggregate, the practice of self-insuring for the cost of health care substantially affects interstate commerce. Furthermore,