By Joanne Liou And Heather Nolan, The Beaumont Enterprise
Washington, Dec 13, 2010 -
Requiring most Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 is beyond Congress' power, a federal judge in Virginia ruled Monday.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, a Republican appointee in Richmond, Va., marked the first successful court challenge to any portion of President Barack Obama's health-care reform law. Two Democratic-appointed judges earlier had ruled in favor of the same provision, considered key to the health-care overhaul, an Associated Press story reported.
"If the Supreme Court rules that the legislation is unconstitutional, it will save Texas - literally - billions of dollars. Reason is because it burdens our state to fund Medicare, which would cost us billions of dollars," U.S. Rep. Ted Poe said.
Virginia is among a few states with a law saying residents cannot be forced to buy insurance. Texas has no such law, Poe said.
Texas is among 20 states involved in a lawsuit against the federal health care law.
The health care overhaul comes with a $940 billion price tag in 10 years, and of that total, the coverage provision of the law would cost about $848 billion in 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
"Unfortunately, striking the 'individual responsibility' provision could also jeopardize the most popular insurance reform in the statute: preventing insurance companies from denying health coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, in a news statement. Families USA is a nonprofit organization that supports quality, affordable health care.
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