A federal judge on Thursday upheld the authority of the federal government to require everyone to have health insurance, dealing a setback to groups seeking to block the new national health care plan.I think what this judge accomplished in a couple sentences the Obama administration failed to do throughout the entire health care debate, and that was to sum up the need for the mandate in an easy to understand explanation - it is probably still too complex for the teabaggers out there.
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed in Michigan by a Christian legal group and four people who claimed lawmakers exceeded their power under the Constitution's commerce clause.
But Judge George Caram Steeh in Detroit said the mandate to get insurance by 2014 and the financial penalty for skipping coverage are legal. He said Congress was trying to lower the overall cost of insurance by requiring participation.
"Without the minimum coverage provision, there would be an incentive for some individuals to wait to purchase health insurance until they needed care, knowing that insurance would be available at all times," the judge said.
"As a result, the most costly individuals would be in the insurance system and the least costly would be outside it," Steeh said. "In turn, this would aggravate current problems with cost-shifting and lead to even higher premiums."
Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said the ruling "marks the first time a court has considered the merits of any challenge to this law."
"The court found that the minimum coverage provision of the statute was a reasonable means for Congress to take in reforming our health care system," Schmaler said. "The department will continue to vigorously defend this law in ongoing litigation."
As can be expected, the challengers of the law plan on appealing, and the law is being challenged by various people and organizations nationwide so wit will be interesting to see how other federal judges rule, but for now it seems as if the administration is the real winner.