Health care reform bill setback

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Another federal judge ruled against the health care reform bill—in the same circuit as the now-pending comprehensive New Jersey case.

The latest health care reform bill case

James A. Byrne Federal Courthouse, Philadelphia, PA, where a landmark health care reform bill is on appeal.

The James A. Byrne Federal Courthouse, Philadelphia, PA, home of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. More than one health care reform bill case is on appeal here. Photo: US Department of Justice

The case of Goudy-Bachman & Bachman v. Sebelius & Geithner is a straight down-the-line Commerce Clause case. The plaintiffs, a married couple in York County, PA, dropped their health-insurance coverage. They did this because the premiums were higher than their mortgage payments. Any other health problems that they have had, they have paid for out-of-pocket. They would rather do it that way. But under the health care reform bill, they mayn’t. (See this report in The Philadelphia Inquirer.)

They sued in the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. There, Judge Christopher C. Conner found yesterday for the plaintiffs. He had earlier ruled that the Bachmans had standing to sue. Now, in his fifty-two-page ruling, he says that the Commerce Clause does not allow Congress to force any citizen to buy a product or service that he does not want.

The federal government, however, is one of limited enumerated powers[.]…Congress’ efforts to remedy the ailing health care and health insurance markets must fit squarely within the boundaries of those powers.

Furthermore, Conner found that Congress also exceeded its authority in telling insurers that they must not “discriminate against or deny coverage to the sick or people with pre-existing conditions.”

How this affects the New Jersey case

The Bachman case is in the same circuit (the Third) as the case of Purpura v. Sebelius. That case is now before the Third Circuit—and will get a three-judge hearing tomorrow—on the question of standing. Judge Conner held in January that the Bachmans, as individuals, have standing to challenge the “individual mandate.” He said again yesterday that whether the mandate was a fine or a tax does not matter. The Anti-Injunction Act does stop a court from enjoining a tax before someone has actually paid it and then asks for his money back. Or so it seems. Judge Conner is not so sure about that:

In Liberty University, Inc., the court concluded that it lacked standing to address individual challenges to the minimum coverage provision after finding that the individual mandate constituted a tax within the meaning of the Anti-Injunction Act, therefore barring pre-enforcement action. Liberty Univ., Inc., — F.3d —, 2011 WL 3962915. I am not persuaded by the analysis set forth in Liberty University, Inc. and reaffirm my conclusion on the non-applicability of the Anti-Injunction Act, as set forth in the prior opinion. See Goudy-Bachman, 764 F. Supp. 2d at 694-97.

Featured image: the Constitution of the United States. Photo: National Archives

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

6 Responses to Health care reform bill setback

  1. TC says:

    Why did you delete half my comments? Specifically, the ones citing decisions by the conservative justices which show why your case lacks standing. Is this how you maintain an “open” and “free” discussion board: by deleting posts which clearly, and intelligently disprove your foolish claims?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Possibly because those comments were full of vulgar language. I’ll give you another chance to talk. Blow it this time, and you’ll be not only deleted but blocked as well.

      This time, take the time to read the opinion in Bachman v. Sebelius, including the relevant case citations, and the judge’s opinion of them.

      • Steve says:

        Thanks Terry – I appreciate forum moderators who actually do their job and take the role seriously.
        Too many places on the web feel that *colorful* language is as appropriate as anything else and it just gets tiresome.

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          Yes—and vulgarism is the last refuge of the poor debater. Or one of the last refuges, anyway.

  2. […] Setback […]

  3. It is also important for people to realize that the claims of the District Court and Third Circuit claiming we (600 plus people and groups) did not have standing flew in the face of established Supreme Court rulings. The 6th Circuit, which ruled the law was constitutional, cited the same case law and conditions to say the plaintiffs/petitioners in the cases they heard did have standing. The difference between the two cases – ours : 19 specific violations with the government defaulting; theirs : a limited number of violations and the government answered. That is why the Lower Courts created the standing argument.

    People should also go and read the original briefs for the Physicians case in the Third Circuit and then look at what the Court stated. You would think the Court was responding to a very different brief than the ones the Physicians case filed. Same thing as ours.

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