Judge upholds healthcare reform law

A federal judge in Virginia on Tuesday rejected a legal challenge to the healthcare reform law, the second time the law's mandate that people buy insurance has been ruled constitutional.

The lawsuit was brought by Liberty University, which also argued that the law violates the First Amendment by requiring people to buy insurance that could cover abortions. 

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"I hold that there is a rational basis for Congress to conclude that individuals' decisions about how and when to pay for health care are activities that in the aggregate substantially affect the interstate health care market," ruled U.S. District Judge Norman Moon, a Clinton appointee. "Nearly everyone will require health care services at some point in their lifetimes, and it is not always possible to predict when one will be afflicted by illness or injury and require care.…

"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. As Congress found, the total incidence of these economic decisions has a substantial impact on the national market for health care by collectively shifting billions of dollars on to other market participants and driving up the prices of insurance policies."

A federal judge in Michigan ruled the same way last month. And in August, a California federal judge rejected a similar lawsuit on the grounds that the plaintiffs had no standing.

Two major lawsuits challenging the individual mandate — a 21-state lawsuit in Florida and another brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — are still moving forward however.

The White House immediately claimed victory on its blog Tuesday.

"In the weeks ahead, there will be additional court cases examining this matter and the health reform law," wrote Stephanie Cutter, the administrator's communications guru for healthcare reform. "We can’t predict the outcome of each case, but we are confident that we will ultimately prevail in court and continue to deliver the benefits of reform to the American people."