D.C. Circuit Upholds Healthcare Mandate

     (CN) - The D.C. Circuit dismissed an artist's claim that the Affordable Care Act unconstitutionally forces him to buy health insurance against his will, or pay a penalty.
     Matt Sissel is an artist and part-time public relations officer for the National Guard. He claims that he is financially able to afford health insurance, but "does not have, need, or want health insurance," preferring to pay his healthcare expenses out-of-pocket.
     Because he is not eligible for government assistance, the Affordable Care Act requires him "to purchase, at his own expense and against his will, federally approved health insurance, or pay the 'shared responsibility payment,'" in violation of the Commerce Clause, according to the complaint.
     But the D.C. Circuit dismissed his suit Tuesday, finding that his argument fails under the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Act in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (NFIB).
     "In NFIB, the government 'ask[ed] [the Court] to read the mandate not as ordering individuals to buy insurance, but rather as imposing a tax on those who do not buy that product.' Although Chief Justice Roberts stated that '[t]he most straightforward reading of the mandate is that it commands individuals to purchase insurance,' he concluded, in an opinion joined by four other Justices, that 'it need not be read to declare that failing to [purchase insurance] is unlawful,'" Judge Judith Rogers said, writing for the three-judge panel.
     Therefore, the Supreme Court already considered Sissel's argument, and decided against it.
     "Although the Chief Justice stated that the individual mandate 'would ... be unconstitutional if read as a command,' he concluded that it is not unconstitutional as beyond the scope of Congressional authority because it 'can reasonably be read' as not imposing a command," the 17-page opinion said. (Emphasis in original.)