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A key health care reform law provision that requires individuals to purchase coverage or pay a financial penalty does not violate their constitutional right to make their own medical decisions, a federal appeals court panel ruled.
The suit, filed by an uninsured businessman in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, charged that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act individual mandate interfered with his right to medical autonomy by forcing him to apply financial resources to pay health care premiums or forcing him to save his income to pay a health care reform penalty if he did not purchase coverage.
But Justice Susan Graber, who wrote the unanimous decision for the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, said Thursday that even under the individual mandate, the plaintiff “remains free to obtain medical insurance of his own choosing — or to obtain no insurance, but at a financial cost — and to use or not to use any such insurance in selecting future doctor-patient relationships.”
The ruling upholds the lower court decision.
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a measure Wednesday that would delay the health care reform law individual mandate by one year, putting off until 2015 the requirement that individuals enroll in a health plan or pay a fine.