State of Florida, et al. v. Sebelius, et al.

Severability of "Individual Mandate" from the Remainder of Health Care Reform Law

NCLC's Position

NCLC argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit that it is impossible to sever the individual mandate from the rest of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), because the individual mandate is inextricably intertwined with the rest of the health care law. According to the brief, if the court rules that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, then the entire health care law is suspect, and at the very minimum, the court should send the case back to the trial court to carefully evaluate what sections of the law must be struck down along with the mandate. The brief also explains that the health care law requires insurers to accept applicants without regard to their medical history and health status, and that the law prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums based on health status and other factors. Without the individual mandate, those provisions of the law would encourage consumers to apply for health insurance on the way to the emergency room. This would raise premiums for consumers, force some insurers out of the market, and shift even greater costs to employers.

Case Outcome

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that the individual mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exceeded Congress' constitutional authority under the Commerce Clause. The court also ruled that the mandate "can be severed from the remainder of the Act's myriad reforms." 

Procedural History

NCLC amicus brief filed 4/11/11. Decided 8/12/11.

Case Documents