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Michigan court upholds PPACA "Individual Mandate"


A Michigan federal district court judge on October 7, 2010 denied an injunction and dismissed the plaintiffs' challenge to the "Individual Mandate" under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("PPACA"). The plaintiffs were a "public interest" law firm acting on behalf of its members and four individuals who asserted they do not have private health insurance and object to "being compelled to purchase health care coverage". They claimed that they were being forced by the Individual Mandate to direct into saving for health insurance to be purchased in 2014 monies they would now be spending in other preferred ways, even though the mandate and its penalties only become effective in 2014 and that Congress lacked the power to regulate "inactivity" – i.e., not buying health insurance. The court ruled that the plaintiffs did have standing and that the case was sufficiently "ripe" for resolution. On the merits, though, the court upheld Congress's power under the Constitution's interstate commerce clause to impose the penalty under PPACA for violation of the Individual Mandate to have health insurance. The court observed that the plaintiffs' "inaction" as regards purchase of health insurance effectively meant that they would purchase health care services in some other way, since they would no doubt be at some point participants in the health care services market. The federal government could regulate that choice, the court said, given the impact those choices can have on the operation of the health care marketplace. Because it upheld the law on interstate commerce clause grounds, it did not reach the separate argument by the government that the mandate penalty was enforceable under the federal government's separate taxing authority.

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