Supreme Court Goes Beyond Individual Mandate

Posted by

Merrill Goozner

Posted 11/14/11 on Gooz News

The Supreme Court, as expected, will consider the constitutionality of the individual mandate in health care reform. But as Tim Jost, a Washington and Lee University professor of law, noted today on theHealth Affairs blog, the high court will also hear arguments on the constitutionality of using Medicaid to expand insurance coverage to people earning up to 138 percent of the poverty line. States are challenging this mandate under what the attorneys general in the 26 states challenging the law call “the coercion theory.” Noted Jost:

The coercion theory calls into question a multitude of federal government programs.  Many federal programs, and not just health care programs, operate through conditional grants to the states.  Were the Supreme Court to hold that the Medicaid expansions are unconstitutional, it would open every one of these programs to judicial challenge.  New programs, or changes in existing programs, could be tied up for years as litigation proceeded.  Such as decision could pose a much greater threat to the power of Congress to address national problems than might a decision holding that Congress exceeded its authority under the Commerce Clause in enacting the individual mandate. It would be a truly radical decision.

I don’t know that this cases yet rises to the level of a Dred Scott decision for the 21st century. But its framing by the states challenging the law has all the hallmarks of the southern states that challenged the 1964 civil rights act, claiming states had the right to nullify federal laws that prohibited local laws condoning segregation, impeding voting and the like. The stakes in this spat over the individual mandate have suddenly grown significantly larger.

7 comments

  1. The question is really, “do we want a country where the federal government dictates to it’s citizens how to live their lives, or do we want a country with more power locally in it’s communities and states?”

    The Supreme Court is the place for this argument, and it’s decision will frame the debate for the 2012 elections.

  2. less inflammatory language would be helpful — Seem to me that “where federal government dictates to it’s citizens how to live their lives” is overstating the case of wanting citizens to have affordable access to health care

  3. I would call it dictating that you buy a product, in this case, one that can be argued to be for the common good, not dictating “to its citizens how to live their lives” I still object to the rhetoric rather than discussing this issue in real terms of what it means.

  4. I would call it “rhetoric” the use of the term “common good” when a majority of Americans disagree with the mandate and the health care law signed by Obama.

    Who actually wrote the healthcare law? Were any practicing docs, outside of large corporations or academia even asked to participate?

    What you call rhetoric is what I call truthfully stating facts that many don’t want to contemplate.

  5. I still do not find it helpful to jump from one activity, buying insurance to how our “lives are run”. Common Good is an economics concept which I would be glad to discuss if you would like. Can you give me the study that show that a majority of Americans disagree with the mandate. I know it has been dropping but….

  6. Please tell how it is in the common good to dictate to people that they need to buy a product that they may not want, especially when the cost is pretty much fixed by the government and third party insurers.
    If the govt, for the common good can force us to purchase health insurance, why not force us to buy who,e grains, fruits and vegetables as well? What will the govt force us to buy next? The common good ends up taking away individual responsibility for our health and placing it upon the govt and insurers. That is a scary concept!

    As per you question about Obamacare being unpopular, please google Rasmussen reports healthcare law and look for the running totals over the past year. I would include the link but my iPad does not seem to want to copy and paste into this comment field.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s