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Health Care: Individual Mandates

Editor’s note: A few takes on the idea of an individual mandate for health care.

Do you agree?


Individual Mandates

Two senior attorneys wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post that an individual mandate may be unconstitutional. They ask, “can Congress require every American to buy health insurance?” And answer, “In short, no. The Constitution assigns only limited, enumerated powers to Congress and none, including the power to regulate interstate commerce or to impose taxes, would support a federal mandate requiring anyone who is otherwise without health insurance to buy it.”

They go through some relevant case law and conclude, “The federal government does not have the power to regulate Americans simply because they are there. Significantly, in two key cases, United States v. Lopez (1995) and United States v. Morrison (2000), the Supreme Court specifically rejected the proposition that the commerce clause allowed Congress to regulate noneconomic activities merely because, through a chain of causal effects, they might have an economic impact. These decisions reflect judicial recognition that the commerce clause is not infinitely elastic and that, by enumerating its powers, the framers denied Congress the type of general police power that is freely exercised by the states.”

Mandate Unconstitutional

Paul Mulshine writes that, “mandatory health insurance is a scam on young people.” He references a column he wrote in March when Democrats in New Jersey were considering mandatory coverage in that state. He says, “As part of the package unveiled by state Sen. Joe Vitale, a Democrat from Middlesex County, every New Jersey resident will be required to provide proof of health insurance at tax time. If you don’t have insurance, the state will sign you up and start charging you for it. The pols aren’t doing this because they’re worried about the younger generation. They’re doing it because they’re worried about the older generation.”

He explains, “The ideal target for mandatory health insurance, said David Knowlton (head of an advocacy organization), is “somebody who graduates from college. They haven’t started their new job yet. They haven’t got a family. They haven’t got a house yet, so they’re uncovered but they’re a good risk, and that spreads the risk of the people who are older who need the care. That’s how insurance works.”

“But then they’re being forced to subsidize people who have greater demand than they have,” I protested. “That’s right,” Knowlton replied. “That’s how insurance works.”

Mulshine isn’t persuaded by the comparisons to auto insurance. He writes, “But you can avoid mandatory car insurance by not driving. The only way to escape mandatory health insurance is by not breathing. That alone should be reason for every young person in the state to oppose the approach.”

Mulshine on Mandates

Phil Kerpen of Americans for Prosperity echoes these concerns. He says the “public option” is a distraction from the real threat in the current bills, mandatory coverage. He says, “Mandates–either an employer mandate that requires all employers to provide health insurance, an individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance, or a combination of the two, as envisioned in the House bill H.R. 3200–are, in my view, now the biggest threat we face.”

He continues, “The insurance companies will insist on, and probably receive, an individual health insurance mandate that will make it illegal not to buy their products.  The penalty for violating the mandate will be a sizable new tax (2.5 percent of gross income in H.R. 3200), or garnishing your wages.  President Obama beat Hillary Clinton in part by opposing such a mandate, but now he supports it.” And adds, “The big insurance companies will spend tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars supporting a mandates bill, because their smaller competitors will be regulated out of business while they can mint huge profits from all of the new customers now required by law to buy their products.”

He says once coverage is mandated, the politicians will get to define what it is you must buy, and “Vast new subsidies will be required to ease passage of a bill that would otherwise slam lower income constituents–those subsidies mean businesses and the middle class will be slammed twice –once to pay higher premiums for the now-legally-mandated purchase of health insurance, and again with higher taxes to subsidize coverage for others.”

Fox News

August 30, 2009 - Posted by | healthcare | , ,

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