A federal judge in Virginia on Dec. 1 threw out a suit brought by Liberty University in Lynchburg against the health care reform act passed earlier this year, ruling that the legislation is legal.
In a 54-page memorandum, Senior U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon said the government’s mandate that all Americans have health coverage by 2014 is not unconstitutional.
“By choosing to forgo insurance, plaintiffs are making an economic decision to try to pay for health care services later, out of pocket, rather than now, through the purchase of insurance,” Moon said. “As Congress found, the total incidence of these economic decisions has a substantial impact on the national market for health care by collectively shifting billions of dollars on to other market participants and driving up the prices of insurance policies.”
The Christian university brought the suit partially on the grounds that it believes that abortion is “immoral,” and that the act does not protect against mandated insurance being used to fund abortion coverage. Moon said the act states that no plan is required to cover any form of abortion coverage.
“In every state…there must be offered at least one plan that does not provide coverage of non-excepted abortion services, which, under current law, are any type of abortion services except in cases of rape or incest where the woman is endangered,” Moon wrote. “Any state may pass a law prohibiting health plans offered through that state’s health benefit exchange from covering any form of abortion services.”
The university’s lawyer called the ruling a minor setback, and said he believed the health care reform law will eventually be repealed.
“I am confident that the federal health-care law will eventually be struck down on appeal because it is unconstitutional,” Liberty’s attorney, Mathew Staver, told Bloomberg News. “Congress does not have the authority to force every American to purchase a particular kind of health insurance product.”
Obama administration officials said they are aware that there are multiple court cases pending which seek to overturn the law, but remain confident that those cases will fare no better than Liberty’s.
“In the weeks ahead, there will be additional court cases examining this matter and the health reform law,” Stephanie Cutter, assistant to Liberty’s president for special projects, wrote in a blog. “We can’t predict the outcome of each case, but we are confident that we will ultimately prevail in court and continue to deliver the benefits of reform to the American people.”