Third time’s the charm

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After losing two battles in federal court, including one challenge from Liberty University, foes to President Obama’s health care legislation won an important victory Monday in federal court in Richmond.

    It’s just a first step in what will certainly be a decision that will end up before — and be made by—the U.S. Supreme Court. Still, the fact that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was able to land the first blow to the massive and unpopular health care overhaul passed this year by Congress, is welcome news.
    The dismantling of the monstrosity has begun.
    The federal judge in Richmond declared that, at its heart, the legislation is unconstitutional. That’s no surprise. The requirement in the legislation that states everyone has to purchase insurance goes beyond the power granted to Congress.
    “An individual’s personal decision to purchase — or decline to purchase — health insurance from a private provider is beyond the historical reach of the Commerce Clause,” stated U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson in his ruling. Some in Congress are pushing for a challenge on that ruling to go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court, rather than to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.
    The Obama administration’s reaction to the ruling was expected—“we’re ahead two-to-one,” was the response, in so many words.
    “Keep in mind this is one ruling by one federal district court. We’ve already had two federal district courts that have ruled that this is definitely constitutional,” Obama said. “You’ve got one judge who disagreed. That’s the nature of these things.”
    But Monday's ruling gets the ball rolling.
    The incoming Congress has already promised challenges to the legislation, but the court will be the ultimate authority. Realistically, that’s where the health care boondoggle now facing the country has its best chance of being rescinded. At least in the short term.
    The sooner the better.
    The results of the health care legislation are already impacting those who carry insurance now. And not in a good way. Health care premiums have been jumping as fast as the spread of the common cold. The effects have to be dealt with now before the symptoms get worse.
    More lawsuits are on the way against the legislation. Twenty states have joined together to challenge a part of the health care law that requires states to expand their Medicaid programs.
    While Monday’s ruling only strikes down the mandate for individuals to purchase insurance—not to take effect until 2014—it also likely impacts other portions of the bill, which counts on adding a large new pool of healthy people to insure, many who wouldn’t purchase insurance if not required to do so. Without those folks, the requirements that insurers have to offer coverage to those with pre-existing conditions aren’t financially viable.
    The first domino has fallen. That’s the good news. In the meantime, as the case makes its way through the courts, the opponents to the health care legislation have the important job of coming up with a solution to the health care issues that should be addressed. The problems are still there. It’s the far-too-reaching of a solution passed by Congress that was the wrong medicine.