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A promising ruling on the mandate
September 13, 2011 - Mike Maneval
A federal judge in Harrisburg struck down the provision mandating consumers purchase health insurance beginning in 2014 as unconstitutional Tuesday.
Judge Christopher C. Conner's ruling is noteworthy for at least two reasons. First, in hearing a lawsuit filed by two private citizens, a York County couple, Conner was well-positioned to argue, as the Washington Post summarized his argument, that the mandate would "effectively sanction Congress’ exercise of police power" without endorsing a view on the Tenth Amendment that would, well, effectively sanction state legislatures' exercise of police power. Many of the past challenges either filed in court or voiced against the mandate have left open - or even invited - the possibility a state government could force free men and women to purchase health insurance. But Conner could say federal efforts to "remedy the ailing health care and health insurance markets must fit squarely within the boundaries of (federal) powers,” rather than suggest government compulsion pursued by more parochial officials wouldn't cross the boundary of individual rights.
Second, Conner characterized the plaintiffs' fears that the mandate signified America's decline into socialism as "both unproductive and unpersuasive.” Indeed, it is odious to suggest the health care reform act - which, while mandating the purchase of a privately-provided service, failed to include a state-run insurance program or public option - is a slide toward socialism more than 70 years after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. began providing government-administered insurance for consumer banking, and after the U.S. government-backed Overseas Production Investment Corp. provided insurance policies for contracting in post-incursion Iraq. If government-run insurance truly is a nightmarish descent into socialism, then perhaps the plaintiffs should fight for the abolition of the FDIC and OPIC and an end to their evil, socialist insurance for the conservative movement's pet special interests in finance and ancillary industries of nation-building.
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