In a lawsuit brought by 26 state attorneys general, including Michigan’s, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Florida has ruled that the “individual mandate” provision of Obamacare is unconstitutional, and so the entire law “must be declared void.” The constitutionally defective provision mandates that every American must purchase a health insurance policy or be subject to penalties.
Initially there was some confusion on whether the ruling meant the federal government and states including Michigan must now cease actions to implement the law, whose provisions go into effect gradually over several years. Judge Vinson did not impose an “injunction” on implementation, but called his ruling the “functional equivalent,” given that government officials would be violating a binding judgment that the law is illegal.
Ilya Shapiro, editor of the Cato Institute’s Supreme Court Review, wrote, “Judge Vinson himself or the Eleventh Circuit (or even the Supreme Court) may issue an emergency stay of this or any other part of the ruling, but as of right now, the federal government must stop implementing ObamaCare.”
Cato health care policy analyst Michael Cannon concurred, writing, “absent intervention from a higher court, (the federal Department of Health and Human Services) must now sit on its hands.”
Joseph Coletti, the director of health and fiscal policy studies at the John Locke Foundation in North Carolina, said in an email: “Judge Vinson’s ruling frees the state of Michigan from any obligations imposed by ObamaCare. Gov. Rick Snyder is now better able to reject handcuffing federal grants, a government-run health-insurance exchange, and regulations that increase the cost of health care.”
By 2014, the health care law would require the State of Michigan to create an “exchange” to act as a middleman between consumers and insurance companies, or else federal agencies will do this instead. For their own reasons, special interests are already lobbying lawmakers in Lansing to create a state exchange.
Some states have already acted to halt further implementation actions following the ruling. Florida Gov. Rick Scott said, "We are not going to spend a lot of time and money with regard to trying to get ready to implement that (law) until we know exactly what is going to happen.”
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B Van Hollen wrote, “Wisconsin was relieved of any obligations or duties that were created under terms of the federal health care law.”