Cynical Synapse

Wed, 27 Oct 2010

Constitutionality of Obamacare

Filed under: Citizen rights, Congress, Government, Legal, Medicine, People, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 6:39 am

Pres. Obama signs the healthcare bill into law

Everyone knows the health care bill, officially the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, includes penalties for people who do not obtain health insurance. In common parlance, this is a mandate to buy a product—the health insurance mandate. There has been much discussion on the constitutionality of requiring people to buy health insurance.

Before its passage, I asked my Senators and Representative to tell me what clause of the US Constitution gave Congress the right to mandate citizens buy a product or service. Sens. Carl Levin (D) and Debbie Stabinaw (D) did not provide any constitutional citation. Neither did Rep. Sander Levin (D).

constitutionality of health care bill

Tuesday morning, NPR asked two former Solicters General about the insurance mandate’s constitutionality. Bill Clinton’s Solicitor General, Walter Dellinger, said encouraging people to buy health insurance is an essential corollary to requiring insurance companies to cover everyone, preexisting conditions notwithstanding. Paul Clement, Solicitor General for Pres. George W. Bush, had a different view.

[T]he Constitution does not give the Federal Congress plenary power. So they can’t do anything they want.

I think there’s a strong argument that the health care mandate is pretty far removed from the Framers’ original conception of what Congress’s Commerce Clause power would be.

So, constitutional challenges are proceeding. Since many provisions of the law don’t even take effect until 2014 or so, it’s likely going to be years before all of the issues are litigated and resolved. And this helps contain skyrocketing medical costs how?

Update:

27 Oct 2010

How could I have forgotten about this gem?

And how could Rep. Conyers have found anything unconstitutional in the bill? He openly admitted that he never read it. I’m sorry—isn’t that your fricking job, Congressman?

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