By Chris Mondics
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Federal District Judge Christopher C. Conner said the federal government’s power to regulate interstate commerce does not give it the power to compel individual citizens to purchase products against their will.
“The nation undoubtedly faces a health-care crisis,” Conner said. “Scores of individuals are uninsured and the costs to all citizens are measurable and significant.
“The federal government, however, is one of limited enumerated powers,” Conner continued, “and Congress’ efforts to remedy the ailing health care and health insurance markets must fit squarely within the boundaries of those powers.”
The lawsuit was brought by a married couple in York County who sued Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who is overseeing the health-care plan, to overturn the law. The couple, Barbara Goudy-Bachman and her husband, Gregory Bachman, said they had dropped their own health coverage because it exceeded the cost of their mortgage payments.
They said they preferred to pay for their health care out of pocket.
However, Conner rejected an argument by the couple that the mandate is “disastrous to this nation’s future, such as the Bachmans’ prediction of America evolving into a socialist state. These suggestions of cataclysmic results … are both unproductive and unpersuasive.”
While most of the massive law can remain intact, Conner said, certain provisions are linked to the health insurance requirement and must also be struck down. Those provisions are designed to guarantee that insurance companies cannot discriminate against or deny coverage to the sick or people with pre-existing conditions.
Their complaint is one of 30 different lawsuits in various federal jurisdictions around the country challenging Obama’s health-care plan, which became law in 2010.
Separate lawsuits have already reached appeals courts in Richmond, Va., Atlanta and Cincinnati.
The Supreme Court is expected to eventually take up the issue.