Most of the health care reform news in the past week focused on the implications of a recent decision by the U.S. Treasury Department delaying enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate until 2015. Both politicians and media had widely diverging assessments of whether the decision is a helpful sign of flexibility or a harbinger of growing chaos surrounding implementation of the law. Less widely covered, but far more definitive, was a decision last week from the Fourth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals affirming the constitutionality of the employer mandate in a case brought by Liberty University. On the issue of the Commerce Clause, the court held that the employer mandate “is simply another example of Congress’s longstanding authority to regulate employee compensation offered and paid for by employers in interstate commerce.” The court also held that the ACA did not violate the plaintiffs’ religious freedom rights under the First Amendment because it was a “valid and neutral law of general applicability.” In June 0f 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ACA’s individual mandate.Liberty University now says it intends to pursue its case to the U.S. Supreme Court as well.
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