Posted on July 10, 2011



For 30 million Americans going without health insurance at the risk of illness and even early death, a recent federal appellate court’s decision was another milestone toward ensuring that their health needs are better met.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, ruled that a federal requirement to buy health insurance is constitutional. It won’t be the last word on the subject, but it moves the nation closer to full implementation of the needed health-care reforms launched last year.

Athe first appellate ruling,  and the first that didn’t break along political lines, the June 29 decision also should cleanse the partisan taint apparent in some lower-court verdicts on the reform law’s requirement. The 2-1 ruling was joined by Judge Jeffery Sutton, a conservative appointee of former President George W. Bush. So, the court’s pivotal support for the Affordable Care Act, known also as Obamacare, cannot be dismissed by opponents as easily as earlier favorable rulings by three Democratic appointed judges.

The ruling also puts the law in better position to survive its expected final test before the Supreme Court. That’s because Sutton concluded that Congress acted within its power to regulate interstate commerce by requiring that citizens obtain insurance. He concluded that a decision to go without coverage, or delay signing up would impact the cost of health care for every American.

If the health-care overhaul hasn’t yet taken on an air of inevitability, it should soon enough.

Helping most Americans obtain access to health care shouldn’t require a court order. It must be a national priority.

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