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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Virginia Makes Individual Healthcare Mandate Illegal

When Barack Obama first spoke about the idea of requiring each American to purchase healthcare and then news leaked that Congress and the Senate both wrote versions of Obamacare to include a health insurance "mandate", article after article from legal scholars to political pundits to news media all argued about the constitutionality of such a mandate that would not only force an individual to buy health insurance, but if the individual did not buy into it there would be a monetary fine and if the fine wasn't paid there could be jail time involved.

Today, Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) released a letter from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirming that the failure to comply with the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the Pelosi health care bill (H.R. 3962, as amended) could land people in jail. The JCT letter makes clear that Americans who do not maintain “acceptable health insurance coverage” and who choose not to pay the bill’s new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

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Today we see, via Washington Post, that Virginia's Democratic-controlled state Senate has passed a measure that will make it illegal to require aka mandate that individuals buy health insurance.

Proponents of the Virginia measures said Congress would overstep the bounds of its constitutional authority if it required the purchase of private insurance.

"I don't believe someone should be forced to buy something they don't want to," said Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, a Democrat who represents rural Russell County. "It's un-American. And it might be unconstitutional."

Virginia is not the only state looking to pass measures or constitutional amendments which would exempt the members of their state from having to comply with the constitutionally questioned mandate in both the Senate and House versions of the Obamacare bill.

Washington Times:

Congress can pass a federal health care bill and President Obama can sign it, but that doesn't mean the states plan to abide by it.

Lawmakers in 30 states are pressing for constitutional amendments to exempt individuals from the requirement to purchase health care, a pivotal piece of the legislation under debate in Congress.

A little further down in the article we see that 19 states have already either filed or pre-filed legislation that would block the individual mandate in their state and 10 others have announced their intent to do the same to protect their state's residents from the government forcing them to purchase healthcare coverage.

Nineteen states have filed or pre-filed legislation using the organization's legislative language, known as the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act, said Christie Herrera, ALEC's director of health and human services task force. Ten others have announced their intent to introduce similar bills this session.

"It's all about preserving the right of people to choose health care for themselves," said Ms. Herrera.

Constitutional issues aside, the problem with requiring people to purchase health care insurance is that many cannot afford it. Unemployment is at 10 percent, higher in some states and many of those that are working are living paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to purchase insurance.

To insist they buy something they cannot afford and set up penalties that would require them to pay for not being able to afford it, via fines that they also cannot afford, is ludicrous.

In a perfect world, everyone would be covered with no hardship.

Our world is not perfect.