Health care reform hit by federal appeals court

A federal appeals court in Atlanta today struck down a key provision of President Obama’s health care reform law, saying the government could not force people to buy insurance.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers was quick to praise the decision:

“Today’s decision is a clear victory for federalism and the Constitution,” Suthers said in a prepared statement. “The court’s decision underlines how Congress overstepped its constitutional bounds by mandating for the first time that individual Americans buy a particular product or service. The 11th Circuit’s order and others across the country make it extremely likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide this critical constitutional question.”

Assistant Colorado Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, reiterated the Senate Republicans’ opposition to the federal health care law. “Obamacare’s unfunded mandate on Americans threatens the liberty of every citizen and the sovereignty of our states. The 11th Circuit Court decision truly strikes a blow for freedom,” he said in a prepared statement.

Matt Inzeo, communications director for the Colorado Democratic Party, said he was disappointed, but said it is just one more step on the way to the Supreme Court.

“For the president and his allies who have worked so hard, this is disheartening, for sure, but most people expected a mixed bag of decisions as these cases wind their way to the Supreme Court,” Inzeo said.

Dede de Percin, executive director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, was unhappy with the decision, but like Inzeo, she was philosophical.

“The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and it is being implemented,” she said. “This doesn’t change that.”

She said the individual mandate will not actually affect very many people and likened the court battles to a ping pong game. “This case was filed in a circuit known to be conservative, so this was expected.

“The more people are affected by the Affordable Care Act, the more they like it. The bottom line is that people ought to be able to get the care they need and be able to afford it, and that is what this law ensures,” she said.

Colorado is one of 28 states participating in this and other similar lawsuits, a move undertaken by Suthers on his own authority without direction from the governor or legislature.

As The Washington Post reports, It is widely expected that the case will ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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