On August 12, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unconstitutional the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirement that all individuals enroll in health insurance. The provision, known as the individual mandate, has been the overwhelming focus of legal challenges against the law.
The latest ruling came in the lawsuit filed by Florida and 25 other states. Previously, the District Court judge who first heard the case ruled that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and could not be severed from the rest of the law; therefore, he struck down the entire ACA. In contrast, the Circuit Court ruled that the individual mandate could be struck down separately from the rest of the law, which they left intact. Additionally, the Court specifically upheld the law’s Medicaid expansion, rejection the states’ argument that the Medicaid expansion is unconstitutionally “coercive” of states.
In the wake of the 11th Circuit Court’s decision, the Obama Administration issued a statement on its blog reiterating its position on the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
In a separate appeals case, heard by the 6th Circuit Court earlier this year, the court upheld the individual mandate and the ACA. The conflicting rulings from the two circuit courts increase the likelihood that the Supreme Court will take up the matter in its upcoming session. For the latest on the status of the various legal challenges to the ACA, visit Kaiser Health News’ Scoreboard: Tracking Health Law Challenges.