The Fifth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court ruling in part that says the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional. While the district court went further to argue that the entire ACA, more colloquially known as Obamacare, was unconstitutional, the Fifth Circuit narrowly ruled on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. It then remanded the case back to the district court to determine what provisions, if any, were severable from the individual mandate.
The “individual mandate” of the ACA is a tax imposed on people who can afford health insurance but do not get health insurance. The purpose of the individual mandate was to encourage people to sign up for health insurance through ACA-created insurance exchanges, in order to offset the costs imposed on insurers by many of the ACA’s requirements. However, the individual mandate’s tax penalty was effectively reduced to zero in 2017, and the Fifth Circuit thus ruled it was no longer a constitutional exercise of the Article I tax power of the Congress.
The primary argument that remains is whether the ACA can function as a law without the individual mandate. If the individual mandate is determined to be severable (in other words, that it can be separated from the rest of the law without impacting other aspects of the law), the ACA may continue intact. If, however, the court determines the mandate isn’t severable, it could render all or part of the ACA unconstitutional, and thus unenforceable. Whichever way the court rules, however, the ACA is likely to remain the subject of litigation for years to come.
Healthcare law offers many pitfalls for the unwary healthcare provider. With offices conveniently located in Garden City, Nassau County, and Babylon in Suffolk County, the firm provides high-quality legal care at reasonable prices. The attorneys at Blodnick, Fazio & Clark are well-versed in all manner of healthcare law issues and are dedicated to saving their clients both time and money. Call (516) 280-7105 to arrange a free consultation or visit our contact page.