Essay: Constitutional Status of Obama’s Health Care Bill

By | May 26, 2011

Sample Essay

In an article in New York Times, contributors have debated the constitutional status of Obama’s health care bill. Balkin supports the bill and considers it constitutionally valid. He considers the mandate a tax and argues that it gives people an option to buy health care insurance or pay an amount as tax if they want to opt out of it. He argues that in the absence of an individual mandate, people will wait until they become too sick to buy insurance. He also argues that Supreme Court will reject the belief that this health care program attacks individual freedom.

Barnett believes that Congress has exceeded its mandate by forcing citizens to buy products from a particular company. It is equivalent to forcing someone to buy a particular car and if he refrains, he has to pay a tax. This according to Barnett is unconstitutional. He feels that Congress was not confident in the Commerce clause theory, that’s why they reverted to the taxation concept. Gluck supports the stance on this issue and she believes Congress has the power to tax for welfare of its citizens. She discusses the aspect of 10th Amendment which stops government from compelling states to increase their Medicare program. In her view, the Attorney generals will fail in courts in this context as Medicaid is a state sponsored program and federal government pays more than half of the cost of the state’s Medicaid program. The states have an option of entirely pulling out of Medicaid program, which seems highly unlikely.

Rivkin and Casey contend that mandatory requirement by congress of all citizens to buy health care or otherwise being taxed is like “police power”. They believe that this law is unconstitutional and must be annulled. Blumstein views state opposition to this health care program with cynicism and says that although it is questionable whether buying of insurance falls within the purview of inter-state commerce, congress can enact required legislation to provide legal cover to this step.

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