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Federal judge dismisses New Jersey health care suit

A judge for the US District Court for the District of New Jersey [official website] on Wednesday granted a motion to dismiss a lawsuit [case materials] brought by a physician organization challenging the constitutionality of the recently enacted health care reform law [HR 3590 text; JURIST news archive]. Nonprofit New Jersey Physicians, Inc. [advocacy website] filed the complaint [text, PDF] in March, arguing that the new federal health care law goes beyond the enumerated powers allowed in the US Constitution [text] by penalizing individuals who choose not to buy health insurance and preventing doctors from receiving payments directly from patients. The group also stressed that it supports many of the health insurance coverage provisions in the new law and only opposes parts of the law they believe hurt the health care industry [press release], such as reimbursement methods. However, Judge Susan Wigenton ruled that the law does not cause the alleged harms and does not violate the Constitution. The New Jersey Physicians group intends to appeal the case [Bloomberg report] to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website].

The recently enacted health care reform law has faced numerous lawsuits over the last few months. Last week, a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia [official website] dismissed [JURIST report] a health care lawsuit filed by Liberty University [academic website]. In October, a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website] denied a motion to dismiss [JURIST report] a lawsuit brought by a group of attorneys general challenging the constitutionality of the health care law. The lawsuit [complaint, PDF], filed in March and joined by 20 states [JURIST reports] and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) [association website; JURIST report], seeks injunctive and declaratory relief against what it alleges are violations of Article I and the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution, committed by levying a tax without regard to census data, property or profession, and for invading the sovereignty of the states. A week earlier, a federal judge in Michigan ruled [JURIST report] that the law is constitutional under the Commerce Clause as it addresses the economic effects of health care decisions, and that it does not represent an unconstitutional direct tax.

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