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Is it unconstitutional to mandate health insurance?
It seems unprecedented to require citizens to purchase insurance simply because they live in the U. (rather than as a condition of driving a car or owning a business, for instance). Since I’m writing in part for a non-legal audience, I’ll start with some basics and provide a lay explanation. Constitutional attacks fall into two basic categories: (1) lack of federal power (Congress simply lacks any power to do this under the main body of the Constitution); and (2) violation of individual rights protected by the “Bill of Rights.” Considering (1), Congress has ample power and precedent through the Constitution’s “Commerce Clause” to regulate just about any aspect of the national economy.
When Congressional power exists, nothing in law says that stronger actions are less supported than weaker ones.
An insurance mandate would be enforced through income tax laws, so even if a simple mandate were not a valid “regulation,” it still could fall easily within Congress’s plenary power to tax or not tax income.
In other words, because Congress has the power to regulate business between the states, it must have the authority to demand it from individuals.
The final push for health care is this week, and one question remains: Is the individual mandate that forces citizens to purchase health care insurance a constitutional power of the federal government?
The most common argument used to justify a federal mandate to purchase health insurance is the talking point that states are allowed to force individuals to buy car insurance before they are allowed to drive.
However, there is a fundamental constitutional difference between the inherent police powers of the states and the enumerated powers of the national government not to mention that driving is a voluntary activity.
For instance, anyone purchasing insurance could be given an income tax credit, and those not purchasing could be assessed an income tax penalty.
The only possible constitutional restriction is an archaic provision saying that if Congress imposes anything that amounts to a “head tax” or “poll tax” (that is, taxing people simply as people rather than taxing their income), then it must do so uniformly (that is, the same amount per person).
What Supporters of Obama Care Will Tell You The proponents of expansive federal power hang their hat on the “Commerce Clause” of the constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3) for Congress’s authority to mandate health care insurance for citizens.