A federal judge today rejected an attempt to stop key provisions of the new national health care law, saying Congress has the authority to require people to get insurance by 2014. The ruling—the first challenge to the Obama administration's overhaul—came in a lawsuit filed in Michigan by a Christian legal group, the Thomas More Law Center, and four people who claimed lawmakers exceeded their power under the Constitution's commerce clause. But US District Judge George Caram Steeh in Detroit said the insurance mandate, and the financial penalty if someone skips coverage, are not illegal.
He said Congress was trying to lower the overall cost of insurance by requiring participation. "Without the minimum coverage provision, there would be an incentive for some individuals to wait to purchase health insurance until they needed care, knowing that insurance would be available at all times," the judge said. "As a result, the most costly individuals would be in the insurance system and the least costly would be outside it," Steeh said. "In turn, this would aggravate current problems with cost-shifting and lead to even higher premiums."