Nashville – The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has declared the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate unconstitutional.
According to rand.org, “The individual mandate, which took effect on January 1, 2014, is a requirement of the ACA that most citizens and legal residents of the United States have health insurance. People who do not have health insurance must obtain it or pay a penalty.”
Rand.org also noted that the individual mandate has been one of the ACA’s most politically charged provisions. It previously survived a Supreme Court challenge in 2012, when the Court ruled that it was a tax and therefore constitutional.
Whether any part of the ACA can now remain — considering the mandate’s unconstitutionality — is now up to the district court.
“This has always been a question of legality, not health care policy,” said Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III. “The Fifth Circuit’s opinion has provided the answer for which Tennessee, among other states, joined this lawsuit. The individual mandate is unlawful.”
A press release from Slatery’s office explained the decision: When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ACA in 2012, most of the justices agreed the law’s individual mandate was constitutional only because its accompanying tax penalty could justify forcing individuals to purchase health insurance under Congress’ taxing power. Devoid of that penalty, the ACA’s individual mandate cannot be preserved as a tax, rendering it unlawful.