Pennsylvania Judge Strikes Down the Patient Health Care and Affordable Protection Act of 2010 Provisions

Author: Patrick J. Healey

On September 14, 2011, in the ongoing battle over healthcare, Judge Christopher Conner from the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that the “individual mandate” of the Patient Health Care and Affordable Protection Act of 2010 is unconstitutional.

Judge Connor’s decision occurred in the case of Goudy-Bachman et al v. Sebelius et al. (No. 10-00763). This lawsuit, requesting that the Act be overturned, was filed by a married couple from York County. The couple, Barbara Goudy-Bachman and Gregory Bachman alleged they dropped their health-care coverage because of the expense. They alleged that their health-care coverage was more than their monthly mortgage payments. The couple, who operate a bait-and-tackle and marine engine-repair shop, said they had limited use for health insurance and preferred to pay for their health care out of pocket.

“The nation undoubtedly faces a health-care crisis Scores of individuals are uninsured and the costs to all citizens are measurable and significant,” Conner said. “The federal government, however, is one of limited enumerated powers, and Congress’ efforts to remedy the ailing health-care and health-insurance markets must fit squarely within those powers.”

In reaching his decision, Conner, a 2002 Bush appointee, stated that, “[T]his case concerns the precise parameters of Congress’s enumerated authority under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. Specifically, the issue is whether Congress can invoke its Commerce Clause power to compel individuals to buy insurance as a condition of lawful citizenship or residency. The court concludes that it cannot. The power to regulate interstate commerce does not subsume the power to dictate a lifetime financial commitment to health insurance coverage”
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