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Is the individual mandate in the healthcare reform legal?

20 Jun

The biggest issue facing the federal government as it reforms healthcare is the individual mandate.  The courts have upheld the federal government has the power to regulate the buying and selling of products and services, but does the federal government have the power to regulate inactivity, not buying of health insurance?  Many cases have been filed in the courts with mixed results.  Ultimately the Supreme Court of the United States will have to decide if the individual mandate is in line with previous rulings or they will set the precedent of expanding the power of the federal government.

 

The Supreme Court has ruled several times stretching Congress’ power in regulating commerce.  In McCullogh v. Maryland (1819), the Supreme Court ruled the Congress has “implied powers.”  This was ruling allowed the Congress to write laws that were necessary and proper to carry out the enumerated powers as well as the implied powers. In Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), the Supreme Court ruled “commerce as all commercial intercourse-all business dealings…the commerce power of the national government could be exercised in state jurisdictions.” (American Government & Politics Today, 2010-2011, Schmidt, p.54).

 

Based upon these precedents the case  Liberty University v. Geithner(2010) was dismissed by US District Judge Norman Moon.  “Judge Moon said the health-care reform law fits “well within Congress’ authority under the Commerce Clause.” (Warren Richey, Christian Science Monitor (2010, December, 1), Health-care reform law is constitutional, federal judge rules, CSMonitor.com)  As to the individual mandate clause and more specifically to the “inactivity” argument Judge Moon states “by choosing to forgo insurance, plaintiffs are making an economic decision to try to pay for health care services later, out of pocket, rather than now, through the purchase of insurance,” (Warren Richey, Christian Science Monitor (2010, December, 1), Health-care reform law is constitutional, federal judge rules, CSMonitor.com).  Thus he upheld the individual mandate.

 

U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Conner ruled in Goudy-Bachman et al v. United States Department of Health and Human Services et al.(2011) the individual mandate was unconstitutional.  He said “The [individual mandate] provision of the [Affordable Care Act] exceeds Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause.” (Joyce Frieden, MedPage Today (September 13, 2011), Court: Individual Mandate “Unconstitutional”, MedPageToday.com).  The Judge addressed the “inactivity” in this way. “…because it requires people to buy something ahead of time that they may or may not need in the future. “Congress cannot require individuals … who are not currently seeking or receiving services in the healthcare market to purchase health insurance in order to stabilize the health insurance market,” he wrote. “Congress cannot mandate or regulate in anticipation of conduct that may or may not occur in the future.” (Joyce Frieden, MedPage Today (September 13, 2011),  Court: Individual Mandate “Unconstitutional”, MedPageToday.com).

 

The biggest issue facing the Healthcare Reform is the individual mandate and the interpretation of is inactivity.  Meaning does inactivity imply activity at a later date?  The Supreme Court will have the final say in the matter.

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Trying to legislate obesity? Really?

31 May

I just read New York City is trying to ban large sugary drinks.  They are proposing that any establishment that receives a letter grade from the Health Dept. will not be able to serve any sugary beverage larger than 16 oz.  The reason is obesity is a major problem and according to Dr. Tom Farley, of the NY Health Dept., sugary drinks are a “major contributor” to the obesity rates.  How can you even dream this kind of law up?  Do you really think you can regulate obesity through the legislature?

First all I am considered obese.  I have lost a lot weight, but I am still obese.  I struggle to continue to lose weight.  I would love to have a magic pill that would melt away the excess pounds.  That magic pill is not realistic and neither is banning large sugary drinks.  Did anyone in the Health Dept. read in American History about the time they banned alcohol?  How well did that work out?  Oh, how about our 30 year plus “War on Drugs.”  It certainly didn’t stop that problem did it.

Get real!  There is no way this ban is going to do anything except make a lot of lawyers rich.  People are still going to get their MEGA LARGE sugar drink somewhere.  Restaurants are going to lose out on revenue.  Well maybe not.  Instead of ordering the 32 oz. drink, I will order two16oz. drinks.  Whew, that gets me what I want and skirts the law at the same time.

Gee, do I really need to go about this.  New York leaders, let your people decide to go large or not!  If you ban large soda’s you are definitely treading on the Declaration of Independence’s guarantee of the pursuit of Happiness.