Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Judge rules against health care reform

A federal judge in Virginia ruled portions of President Barack Obama’s health care reforms are unconstitutional Monday.

Specifically, Judge Henry Hudson ruled the insurance mandate portion of the health care reform bill was unconstitutional, being the first federal judge to rule against the reforms.

The insurance mandate requires everyone to have health insurance, with the federal government providing subsidies to those who cannot afford it. Hudson rejected the portion of the law requiring individuals to buy health care or face a fine if they are not already covered by 2014.


Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, who represented the commonwealth of Virginia in the case, argued the mandate oversteps the powers of the Commerce Clause.

The Commerce Clause states the federal government cannot require an individual to buy something unless it is for their own good.

While the case in Virginia will continue on to a higher court, Governor-elect Scott Walker is taking his own approach to challenging the health care reforms.

Walker sent a letter to President Obama earlier this month asking for an exception to the mandate in Wisconsin.

“It is my hope that your administration will allow Wisconsin to take a free-market, consumer driven system approach under the health care exchange provisions of the federal act,” Walker said in the letter.

If the president does not cede to this exception, Walker will reportedly be asking Wisconsin Attorney Gen. J.B. Van Hollen to begin court proceedings as well.

Van Hollen said in a statement he will defend the state and its citizens against the government’s “unconstitutional overreach.”

As for the ruling in Virginia, Van Hollen said in a statement he applauds the court for upholding the constitution.

According to Charles Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin, the health care mandate portion of the reforms provided the core financing for the Affordable Care Act and this is the first federal ruling against it.

The case will undoubtedly be appealed, Franklin said, and the ruling may or may not be reversed.

Hudson’s ruling also reminds everyone the health care reform legislation is still on the table, said Barry Burden, a UW political science professor.

Though the mandate was deemed unconstitutional by Virginia’s federal court, numerous other courts have found the mandate lawful, according to Thomas Oliver, a UW public health policy expert.

Oliver said Wisconsin has surpassed most of the nation in expanding health insurance and challenging the reforms as Walker proposes would be a major setback.

“This is just a continuation of a political food fight,” Oliver said.

Oliver said he believes resistance to the bill is simply another shift against the Democrats.

However, support for the health reforms has diminished and the law itself has met public disapproval since day one, Franklin said, and the public is divided over how far the health care reforms should go.

The case will head to the U.S. Supreme Court where the fate of the bill will be decided, Franklin said.

“The ruling was clearly a blow to the law, but it is just one district judge’s ruling,” Franklin said.

-The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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