Pioneer Editorial: Ruling only first step in court appeal
Monday's U.S. District Court ruling puts a kink in health care reform legislation, but doesn't kill it. Nor should it, as the health care reform package signed into law earlier this year by President Barack Obama provides sweeping changes to benefit all Americans.
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson in Virginia ruled unconstitutional a provision in the package which mandates that all Americans have health insurance. The provision is needed to pay for other provisions in the law, such as not allowing pre-existing conditions to bar someone from obtaining health insurance or provisions that allow offspring up to age 26 to remain covered under their parents' policy. The thought is many young healthy people would not purchase health insurance, thinking they don't need it, thus taking a revenue stream away from paying for the rest of the reform package.'
The U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday it would appeal the ruling, which no doubt will eventually end before the U.S. Supreme Court. Two other district courts have upheld the law, setting up the need for a higher court ruling on the matter.
There are many reasons for tweaking the health reform package, and no reasonable ones for its repeal. The idea is to have every American on health insurance, but in a way that isn't burdensome to the taxpayer or to the private insurance industry.
Without the participation of every American, the costs of providing insurance will add greatly to the national debt. The goal, however, is to insure every American. That provision will not take effect anyway until 2014, so there will be plenty of time for the courts to work it out.
Meanwhile, the health reform package as a whole is working to the benefit of Americans by broadening the scope of health insurance to allow consumers to purchase insurance across state lines, to place their children in coverage until age 26 and havjng non-coverage of pre-existing conditions dropped.
Congress should work on implementing the law so that the financial impact to taxpayers is minimized, not seeking to repeal the total works.