Health care reform lives to see another day

Maryalene LaPonsie | December 1, 2010

U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon, recently dismissing Liberty University's challenge to a provision that most Americans obtain medical coverage, took 54 pages to say what we'll tell you in one sentence: health care reform is here to stay. Despite nearly two dozen challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), many experts agree that the chances of health reform provisions being overturned range from nil to zero. So time to pull out your wallet and start looking for the best health insurance rate.

The controversy surrounding health care

Spend any time surfing blogs or watching the news, and you'll quickly discover that there is a little something in health reform for everyone to dislike. Health insurance companies don't like the medical loss ratios. Employers don't like the benefits mandate. And the tea party crowd simply hates it all.

However, of all the parts of health reform that raise the ire of some, none has been quite so front and center as the health insurance mandate. This is the core of health care reform. After years of haggling over whether the government should provide health insurance or shouldn't provide health insurance, Congress chucked the whole idea of a public option.

Instead of providing medical coverage for all Americans, the government decided that all Americans should have medical coverage. How you choose to find that health insurance is up to you.

And if locating affordable medical insurance is a problem, the government will help. In 2014, when you will be required to maintain medical insurance on yourself and your family, Health Insurance Exchanges and government subsidies will be available for those making less than 400% of the poverty level.

Legal challenges to mandatory health insurance

Not long after the PPACA passed, the lawsuits came fast and furious. State attorney generals and advocacy groups were among those who rushed to claim that health insurance as a requirement of citizenship was unconstitutional.

Last month, U.S. District Judge George C. Steeh dismissed a suit brought by the Thomas More Law Center that made that claim. More recently, Judge Moon, a Virginia judge, made a similar ruling. Judge Moon, like Judge Steeh, cited the Commerce Clause as the basis for the government to require medical coverage of all citizens.

The Virginia suit was brought by Liberty University, the college founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell. The university argued that the Commerce Clause does not give the government the authority to regulate inactivity. In other words, the lawsuit made the point that the Constitution cannot be used to compel someone to make a purchase.

Judge Moon ruled that, on the contrary, the issue at hand had nothing to do with regulating inactivity. In his ruling, he wrote, "by choosing to forgo insurance, plaintiffs are making an economic decision to try to pay for health care services later, out of pocket, rather than now, through the purchase of insurance." And that, he said, opened the door for the Commerce Clause and government regulation.

With lawsuits still pending across the nation, chances are we haven't heard the last of this debate. However, as we close in on 2011, the health insurance mandate looms just three years away. Time to find some low cost health insurance, don't you think?

Tags : health insurance mandate, health reform

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