Local Experts Comment On Health Care Court Ruling

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The White House says it disagrees with a Virginia judge’s ruling declaring a key provision of President Barack Obama’s health care law unconstitutional. But Ohio’s incoming attorney general says he thinks the ruling is the correct one.

U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson rejected the government’s argument that it has the power under the Constitution to require people to buy health insurance. Hudson said the decision to purchase or decline coverage is beyond the Constitution’s historical reach. Incoming attorney general Mike DeWine says he agrees with the ruling.

“The judge today, the federal judge, basically said the same thing that I’ve been saying and that is, that the Commerce Clause does not give Congress does not give the federal government the power to pass a mandate to compel every citizen of this country to buy health insurance,” says DeWine.

But what about citizens, who, for example, live in states where car insurance is mandatory? Peter Shane, a professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, says the issue centers on whether Congress has the authority to require certain purchases. Shane says the judge’s objection would not prevent states from mandating the purchase of health insurance.

“It’s pretty hard to argue the decision whether or not to buy health insurance is not an economic decision,” Shane says. “But the judge nonetheless reaches that resolve and in this highly technical, highly formulistic way reaches a conclusion that is different from the other judges who have decided the same issue thus far.”

Two other federal judges have upheld president Obama’s health reform law. The matter might ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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