Mandating health insurance

The Court will consider the effect of the relevant "class of activity," not that of any individual member of the class.To assess the constitutionality of a claim of power under the Commerce Clause, the primary question becomes, "what class of activity is Congress seeking to regulate?Second, it would require people to purchase a specific service that would be heavily regulated by the federal government.[1] This statement from a 1994 Congressional Budget Office Memorandum remains true today.Yet, all of the leading House and Senate health-care reform bills being debated in Congress require Americans to either secure or purchase health insurance with a particular threshold of coverage, estimated by CBO to cost up to ,000 per year for a typical family.[2] This personal mandate to enter into a contract with a private health insurance company is enforced through civil and criminal tax penalties in section 501 of the House bill[3] and with a freestanding mandate and equally questionable civil tax penalties in sections 501 and 513 of the pending Senate bill.[4] The purpose of this compulsory contract, coupled with the arbitrary price ratios and controls, is to require many people to buy artificially high-priced policies to subsidize coverage for others as well as an industry saddled with other government costs and regulations.


First, it would impose a duty on individuals as members of society.

But it is very unlikely that the Court would extend current constitutional doctrines, or devise new ones, to uphold this new and unprecedented claim of federal power.

Constitutional Overview In reaction to states that were enacting trade barriers and violating the rights of their citizens, those who drafted and ratified the U. Constitution were determined both to constrain the powers of states and, at the same time, limit the power of Congress.

In its modern Commerce Clause cases, the Supreme Court rejects the argument that a petitioner's own conduct or participation in the activity is, by itself, either too local or too trivial to have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.

Rather, the Court has made clear that, "where the class of activities is regulated and that class is within the reach of federal power, the courts have no powers 'to excise, as trivial, individual instances' of the class."[19] Thus, for example, a potential challenger of the proposed mandate could not argue that because her own decision not to purchase the required insurance would have little or no effect on the broader market, the regulation could not be constitutionally applied to her.

The Supreme Court's "Class of Activities" Test In the last seventy years, the Supreme Court has applied a relatively straightforward judicial test to determine whether a federal statute is within the commerce power of Congress.


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