Can the government make people buy insurance? The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has survived its first court test, an attempt in Michigan to overturn the mandatory insurance provision that requires Americans to buy minimum coverage. The ruling by U.S. District Judge George Steeh was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Thomas More Law Center, which had requested an injunction against the ACA on the grounds that it exceeds Congress’ authority and is an unconstitutional tax.
In his 20-page decision, Steeh ruled that Congress has the power to pass the law under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. According to the decision, “The minimum coverage provision, which addresses economic decisions regarding healthcare services that everyone eventually, and inevitably, will need, is a reasonable means of effectuating Congress’ goal.”
Steeh noted that “Without the minimum coverage provision, there would be an incentive for some individuals to wait to purchase health insurance until they needed care, knowing that insurance would be available at all times. As a result, the most costly individuals would be in the insurance system and the least costly would be outside it. In turn, this would aggravate current problems with cost-shifting and lead to even higher premiums.”
The Thomas More Law Center plans to appeal Judge Steeh’s ruling.