The SCOTUSblog reports that the Affordable Care Act has survived the first round of court challenges intact. A federal judge ruled today that the mandate is a necessary part of the overall regulatory scheme and falls within Congress's powers to regulate commerce.
This is a lawsuit brought by the Thomas More Law Center, a right-wing Michigan advocacy group who proclaims themselves the "Christian response to the ACLU." They're funded by entities like the DeVos family foundation, Koch Industries and the Cato Institute.
From the ruling, with regard to the individual mandate:
There is a rational basis to conclude that, in the aggregate, decisions to forego insurance coverage in preference to attempting to pay for health care out of pocket drive up the cost of insurance.The costs of caring for the uninsured who prove unable to pay are shifted to health care providers, to the insured population in the form of higher premiums, to governments, and to taxpayers. The decision whether to purchase insurance or to attempt to pay for health care out of pocket, is plainly economic.These decisions, viewed in the aggregate, have 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.
The health care market is unlike other markets.No one can guarantee his or her health, or ensure that he or she will never participate in the health care market. Indeed, the opposite is nearly always true.The question is how participants in the health care market pay for medical expenses - through insurance, or through an attempt to pay out of pocket with a backstop of uncompensated care funded by third parties.This phenomenon of cost- shifting is what makes the health care market unique. Far from “inactivity,” 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, collectively shifting billions of dollars, $43 billion in 2008, onto other market participants. As this cost-shifting is exactly what the Health Care Reform Act was enacted to address, there is no need for metaphysical gymnastics of the sort proscribed by Lopez.
Wonkroom has more on the ruling, and next steps.