HealthReformGPS is made possible through generous financial support from the RCHN Community Health Foundation. Visit them at

Michigan judge rules individual mandate constitutional

Posted on October 8, 2010 | No Comments

PDF Version

US District Court Judge George Steeh has dismissed a case claiming Congress acted beyond the scope of its powers under the commerce clause when it included a requirement that individuals carry health insurance in the health reform law. “The decision whether to purchase insurance or to attempt to pay for health care out of pocket is plainly economic,” he wrote in his opinion, and this has a “clear and direct impacts on health care providers, taxpayers and the insured population, who ultimately pay for the care provided to those who go without insurance.” He concludes, “While plaintiffs describe the Commerce Clause power as reaching economic activity, the government’s characterization of the Commerce Clause reaching economic decisions is more accurate.”

No Comments

Public comments are closed.

The minimum coverage provision, or individual mandate, is a provision under the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to a short paper recently issued by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute, if the ACA were in effect today, 94 percent of the total population (93% of the nonelderly population) or 250.3 million people out of 268.8 million—would not face a requirement to newly purchase insurance or pay a fine. In this brief, the authors use the Urban Institute’s Health Insurance Policy Simulation Model (HIPSM) to estimate the number and share of Americans potentially subject to the mandate, identify their insurance status absent the ACA, and simulate eligibility for Medicaid and exchange-based premium and cost-sharing subsidies. To allow the most direct comparison of postreform coverage with coverage absent reform, their analysis treats the provisions of the ACA as if fully implemented in 2011. The results of their analysis are presented in a table format—with estimates of the population exempt from the mandate; the population potentially affected by the mandate but already covered by insurance of some type; and the remaining population required to newly purchase coverage or pay a fine.
The RAND Corporation recently released a report addressing the question "How would removing the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) affect the number of insured individuals, premium costs for those who are insured through the exchanges, and government spending on health coverage?" RAND addressed the question by using COMPARE (Comprehensive Assessment of Reform Efforts) microsimulation model to predict the effects of a possible Supreme Court decision invalidating the individual mandate provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while keeping the other parts of the law intact. The authors predict the effects of such a decision on health insurance coverage overall and for subgroups based on income. They also estimate where people will obtain insurance in scenarios with and without the mandate and how the elimination of the individual mandate will affect insurance premiums. The analysis predicted that...
Today the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released a report authored by researchers from the Urban Institute called "Eliminating the Individual Mandate: Effects on Premiums, Coverage, and Uncompensated Care: Timely Analysis of Immediate Health Policy Issues." The report examines the effect that eliminating the individual mandate—the requirement for most Americans to have health insurance or face a penalty—would have on health insurance coverage, spending, premiums and uncompensated care. Using the Urban Institute’s Health Insurance Policy Simulation Model, the researchers simulated the Affordable Care Act as enacted, as well as several alternative scenarios of health reform without the mandate. The authors find that without the mandate: 1) Between 40 and 42 million would remain uninsured as opposed to 26 million with the mandate; 2) Private coverage would fall 11 million, covering 4 million fewer people than it would have without reform; 3) Uncompensated care spending would be much higher due to the increased number of uninsured; and 4) Individual premiums in the health benefit exchanges would increase by 10 percent in a scenario assuming high exchange participation, and by 25 percent with a low participation scenario.
Many policy gurus fear that repeal of the minimum coverage provision and corresponding penalty from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would lead to adverse selection and thus a premium spiral. However, a recent Health Affairs article highlights other ACA provisions that would mitigate the negative repercussions of an individual mandate repeal. For example, the ACA subsidies to help people purchase coverage would restrain a premium spiral by absorbing much of the impact of premium increases. The article proffers that without the individual mandate, 7.8 million people would lose coverage, as opposed to other estimates in the 16-24 million range. In sum, the ACA would still cover 23 million people who otherwise would have been uninsured. Although the individual mandate would have important effects, the article says, perhaps it is not crucial to the successful implementation of health reform.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has released a report on the individual requirement to purchase health insurance (individual mandate) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The report, "Individual Mandate and Related Information Requirements under PPACA," lays out the various exemptions granted from the individual mandate provisions under the law, as well as explains how enforcement of the mandate by the IRS will work once the mandate takes effect in 2014.