US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Dismisses 2 Challenges to Affordable Care Act

The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed two challenges to the Affordable Care Act: Virginia v. Sebelius and Liberty University v. Geithner. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s suit claimed that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirement that most people buy health insurance, the so-called individual mandate, violated Virginia law. At the same time the ACA was passed, the Virginia legislature passed a law saying that state residents could not be forced to purchase insurance. The Court held that Virginia did not have the right to sue because “the sole provision challenged here — the individual mandate — imposes no obligations” on the state itself. In the Liberty case, the court said the law cannot be challenged before the mandate goes into effect. Appeals to the U. S. Supreme Court have been promised in both cases.

There is a divide among the circuit courts which most likely will have to be resolved by the Supreme Court. The 6th Circuit upheld the individual mandate in a June decision, while the 11th Circuit, which heard the high-profile challenge filed by 26 state attorneys general, ruled that the mandate is unconstitutional.

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