Ruling Is a Big Step Back for Coverage Mandate in Health Care Reform

See update below.

This is only one ruling from one court, of course, but last week’s federal appeals court decision striking down down the health care reform requirement that virtually all Americans must carry insurance or face penalties is a big one.

A three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today struck down the individual mandate, siding with the 26 states that had sued to block the law.

The 2-1 decision will most certainly be appealed to the full 11th Circuit, but it shows how difficult it will be for executives and HR professionals who are trying to plan for the health care mandates that will kick in over the next few years.

Stay tuned for more, because it is clear that health care reform is not yet a done deal, at least as long as there is room to continue to litigate the matter in the federal courts. Here’s the story on the ruling from the The Washington Post:

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A federal appeals court struck down a central provision of the 2010 health-care law Friday, ruling that Congress overstepped its authority by requiring virtually all Americans to obtain health insurance.

The divided three-judge panel from the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta is the first appellate court to rule against any portion of the statute. The decision marks a significant victory for the 26 Republican attorneys general and governors who challenged the health-care law on behalf of their states.

In June, a divided panel of the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati upheld the health-care law in a separate case. A third challenge is pending in the 4th Circuit in Richmond, with a decision expected soon.

The Supreme Court will almost certainly decide the constitutionality of the act. Friday’s decision seemed to seal the deal, because the most important factor in whether the court accepts a case is whether lower courts are split on a constitutional question. But when the court could hear the case was not clear.”

For more of this story, please click here.  

UPDATE: Here is some thoughtful insight on what happens next with health care reform, from Ezra Klein of The Washington Post. He makes the case that changes to the law are inevitable.

Even if the Supreme Court upholds the law in its entirety, there will be policies that work and deserve expansion and policies that fail and require removal. No sweeping legislation survives first contact with reality unscathed, and the Affordable Care Act will be no different. If the law is to be successful, Congress is going to have to be willing to revise, rework and reform it over time. If Republicans refuse to allow such updates, but also find themselves unable to muster the votes for repeal, we will be stuck with a policy that is never quite allowed to succeed and never quite forced to fail.”

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


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