KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Judge Upholds Health Law’s Insurance Coverage Requirement

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., became the third federal judge to uphold the constitutionality of the health overhaul's individual mandate. The decision was issued Tuesday evening.

The New York Times: A Third Judge Validates Health Care Overhaul Law
A third federal judge upheld the constitutionality of the Obama health care law on Tuesday, reinforcing the divide in the lower courts as the case moves toward its first hearings on the appellate level (Sack, 2/22).

The Wall Street Journal:  Judge Upholds Health Law's Coverage Requirement
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday evening became the third U.S. trial judge to uphold the constitutionality of the new health-care law's requirement that individuals maintain health coverage or pay a penalty (Kendall, 2/22).

Bloomberg: Obama Health Care Law Survives Constitutional Challenge In Washington Case
The Obama administration's health care reform law survived a constitutional challenge in federal court in Washington, marking the third U.S. victory against cases seeking to block the measure. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler yesterday dismissed a lawsuit brought in June by five individuals who claimed the provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requiring people to procure minimum insurance coverage starting in 2014 is unconstitutional. In a 64-page opinion, Kessler said Congress was acting within the bounds of its constitutional Commerce Clause power when it imposed the insurance requirement (Schoenberg and Harris, 2/23).

National Journal: US District Judge Tosses Religious Challenge to Health Care Law
A federal judge threw out a lawsuit on Tuesday that argued the health care reform law's insurance coverage mandate violates the religious freedom of those who rely on God to protect them, The Associated Press reports. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in Washington, D.C., dismissed the suit that was filed by the American Center for Law and Justice, the group founded by conservative evangelist Pat Robertson. The suit was filed on behalf of five Americans who have declined to buy health insurance even though they can afford it (2/22).

Politico Pro: The Path To The Supreme Court
Of about two dozen lawsuits against the health care overhaul, there are four to five "frontrunners" on the path to the Supreme Court. But all roads lead to one likely scenario, if the court decides to take the case: oral arguments in early 2012 and a ruling at the close of the session in May or June. Two cases in Virginia – one brought by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on behalf of the commonwealth, the other brought by the conservative Liberty University – are scheduled to be argued in the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in early May. The Fourth Circuit has six judges nominated by Republican presidents and nine judges nominated by Democratic presidents. Until now, all five judges who have ruled on the merits of the law have ruled along partisan lines – Republican nominees have struck down the law and Democratic nominees have upheld it (Haberkorn, 2/23).

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