In the 2-1 ruling, a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said the requirement that everyone have minimum insurance is reasonable.
"Congress had a rational basis for concluding that, in the aggregate, the practice of self-insuring for the cost of healthcare substantially affects interstate commerce," the majority opinion said. "Furthermore, Congress had a rational basis for concluding that the minimum coverage provision is essential to the Affordable Care Act's larger reforms to the national markets in healthcare delivery and health insurance. Finally, the provision regulates active participation in the healthcare market, and in any case, the Constitution imposes no categorical bar on regulating inactivity. Thus, the minimum coverage provision is a valid exercise of Congress's authority under the Commerce Clause, and the decision of the district court (judge) is affirmed."
A coalition of challengers led by the Thomas More Law Center, a Christian legal facility in Ann Arbor, Mich., had filed suit against the individual mandate provision.
A number of challenges to the healthcare reform law in general and the individual mandate are working themselves up through the courts, and the issue should reach the U.S. Supreme Court next term.
A federal appeals court in Atlanta heard a challenge June 8 filed by 26 states to the law's requirement that everyone have health insurance. A ruling in that challenge is pending.
Georgia and 25 other states are challenging the law's constitutionality, asserting that Congress cannot force people to purchase coverage in an attempt to control costs.
The Atlanta appeals court heard the U.S. Justice Department's appeal of a ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola, Fla. He found the individual mandate unconstitutional and is the only federal judge to void the whole Affordable Care Act.
Three federal judges, including the one in Detroit -- all Democratic appointees -- have upheld the mandate. Vinson and another Republican appointee have ruled against it.