White House Correspondent
The Obama administration said it "disagrees" with Monday's ruling by a Virginia judge
that deemed the federal mandate for health care coverage unconstitutional.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the White House remained confident that health care reform would move forward regardless. "Challenges like this are nothing new in terms of laws that have come before the courts in the past," he said. "We're confident that [the provision] is constitutional."
Gibbs went on to say, "Of the three courts that have rendered decisions on this question, two have ruled in our favor," and sought to put the decision made by Virginia Judge Henry Hudson into a broader, national context. "I do think it's important to keep some perspective about the fact that there are now 20 or so cases making their way through federal courts," Gibbs said.
Underscoring this point, he added that, "One hundred and fifteen miles away, the Western court of Virginia ruled on November 30th to uphold the same provision that the Eastern district and judge [Hudson] had ruled against."
Given Monday's ruling, questions surrounding the constitutionality of certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act are virtually guaranteed to make their way to the Supreme Court -- though the White House would not comment on whether the Department of Justice would seek an expedited trial.
Gibbs did not seek to downplay the importance of mandated coverage as it pertains to broader health care reform. "Without an individual-responsibility portion in the law," he said, "you could not find yourself dealing with pre-existing conditions -- because the only people that would likely get involved in purchasing health care would be the very sick. And obviously, that would be very expensive."
The White House, according to Gibbs, was "not surprised" at Judge Hudson's ruling. "The bill continues to move forward in terms of its implementation," he said, adding,"the individual-responsibility aspects [of the bill] weren't to go into effect until 2014 -- so there's some time to work this through."