Your Need to Know on Obamacare
March 26th – 28th, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the President’s health care law; one of the most important cases in a generation. The results of the case will have a vast impact
on Americans for decades to come.
Parties to the case: Twenty-six states*, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Individual Mandate Violates Congress’s Limited Power to Regulate Interstate Commerce:
The individual mandate compels all citizens to purchase a product from a private company; this is an unconstitutional violation of the federal government’s limited and enumerated powers. The
Framers intended that Congress only be able to use the Commerce Clause to regulate interstate economic activity, or activities that substantially affect interstate commerce. However, Congress
may not use the Clause to force otherwise inactive citizens to enter a marketplace and purchase a product against their will.
The Obama administration’s insistence that the individual mandate is a “necessary and proper” means of accomplishing otherwise Constitutional ends is a gross misunderstanding of congressional power. The Necessary and Proper Clause does not grant Congress new powers such that they may violate other limitations on their power, in this case the Commerce Clause. Both the means and the ends of Congress’s action must be Constitutional.
The Individual Mandate is not “Severable.” The Entire Law must be Struck Down:
If the Court overturns the individual mandate, it will next consider whether the remaining aspects of the bill can stand. Congress normally includes language stipulating that if any portion of a bill is found unconstitutional the remaining aspects still apply. The President’s health care law does not include this type of “severability clause” because Congress believed that the individual mandate is essential for the remaining reforms, like guaranteed issue and community rating, to function. Even the Obama Administration acknowledges this fact in their brief before the Court. AFP believes that the Court must not only overturn the mandate, but strike down the entire bill.
The President’s Health Care Law is a Coercive Expansion of the State Portion of Medicaid:
The Court will also consider whether the federal government’s Medicaid expansion is coercive. Starting in 2014, all individuals below 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (currently about
$30,000 for a family of four) will be eligible for Medicaid with the federal government picking up a decreasing portion of the costs. However, if a state decides not to expand its eligibility it loses all Medicaid funding; not just the funding for the expansion. The states argue this presents no practical choice and therefore violates the idea of American federalism.
The final issue before the Court involves a technical issue. Constitutional standing requirements insist that an individual must be injured by a law before they can challenge it in court.
According to the 1867 Anti-Injunction Act, no individual is harmed by a tax until the tax is collected. The Court will determine whether the penalty for violating the individual mandate is a tax, and if it is a tax whether the parties have standing to challenge the rest of the bill. In an unusual move, the Court proactively asked the parties to argue this issue. The Obama Administration and the States all agree that the Anti-Injunction Act does not apply.
*Twenty-six states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming