Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 January 2021
Despite historic efforts to enact the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in 2010, national health reform is threatened by multiple legal challenges grounded in constitutional law. Premier among these claims is the premise that PPACA’s “individual mandate” (requiring all individuals to obtain health insurance by 2014 or face civil penalties) is constitutionally infirm. Attorneys General in Virginia and Florida (joined by 25 other states) allege that Congress’ interstate commerce powers do not authorize federal imposition of the individual mandate because Congress lacks the power to regulate commercial “inactivity.” Stated simply, Congress cannot regulate individuals who choose not to obtain health insurance because they are not engaged in a commercial venture. Several courts initially considering this argument have rejected it, but two federal district courts in Virginia and Florida have concurred, leading to numerous appeals and the near promise of United States Supreme Court review.