December 16, 2010—A federal district judge's declaration this week that a key part of health care reform is unconstitutional has no immediate or direct effect on reform's expansion and improvement of the 340B drug discount program.
Acting in a case filed by Virginia's attorney general, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson ruled that Congress lacked authority to require most Americans to maintain health coverage or pay a penalty. The judge, however, said his decision applied only to reform's so-called individual mandate and its directly related provisions, not to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its entirety. He also denied Virginia's request for an injunction against the whole law, which presumably would have encompassed its 340B sections.
Two different federal district courts have declined to declare the individual mandate unconstitutional. The U.S. Justice Department is appealing Judge Hudson's decision to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
A federal district judge in Florida his holding a hearing today in another suit brought by 20 other states challenging the individual mandate.
Leaders of the new Republican majority in the U.S. House have pledged to seek health reform's repeal.