Health Care Reform 2010
For the first time in U.S. history, every American will have access to quality, affordable health care under the updated health insurance reform legislation passed by the House. "The Affordable Health Care for America Act or H.R. 3962, blends and updates the three versions of previous bills passed by the House committees.”(Kruger, M. 2010) This bill is expected to ease the out-of-control costs of health insurance, introduce competition into the health care marketplace that will help maintain coverage affordability, protect people’s choices of doctors and health plans, and guarantee all Americans access to quality, consistent, affordable health care. The Association of American Medical Colleges stated in a Mar. 21, 2010 article; "we have taken the first step towards truly transforming health care in this country. This historic vote by the House of Representatives sets into motion long-overdue efforts to cover 32 million uninsured Americans and to assure their access to high-quality care. The nation's medical schools and teaching hospitals have expressed their full support for this bill to President Obama, and now stand ready to work with the administration and Congress to carry out these significant changes to our health care delivery system." (AAMC, 2010) The health care reform bill creates a shared responsibility for health care among individuals, employers and the government to ensure that all Americans have affordable essential health benefits. Two of the key components, and possibly the most debated or criticized of the Affordable Health Care for America Act are the individual mandates and the health insurance exchange subsidy programs. The individual health insurance mandates under the new health care reform, will require most U.S. citizens and legal residents to have health insurance. There will be a subsidy program that will be implemented along with a state based health insurance exchanges that will assist with the cost and selection of affordable insurance. Except in cases of hardship, once market reforms and affordability credits and subsidies are in effect, individuals will be responsible for obtaining and maintaining health insurance coverage. "Those who choose to not obtain coverage will pay a penalty of 2.5 percent of modified adjusted gross income above a specified level. Exemptions will be granted for financial hardship, religious objections, American Indians, those without coverage for less than three months, undocumented immigrants, incarcerated individuals, those for whom the lowest cost plan option exceeds 8% of an individual’s income, and those with incomes below the tax filing threshold. “("Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation" 1-13) The individual mandate provision has been the subject of much debate and there are reasonable arguments for both sides. For those who oppose the responses are sometimes expressed angrily. One of the most popular oppositions to the mandate is the belief that an individual mandate is unconstitutional. Congressman John Sullivan believes that the federal government clearly overstepped its constitutional bounds by making Obama care the law of the land. Nowhere in the Constitution is Congress given the power to force Americans to buy a good or service or enter into a contract.” (Sullivan, 2010). The commerce clause of the Constitution, which grants Congress the power 'to regulate commerce among the several states, is the precedent that the mandate evolves from. The individual mandate extends the commerce clause's power beyond economic activity, to economic inactivity. That is unprecedented. While Congress has used its taxing power to fund Social Security and Medicare, never has it used its commerce power to mandate that an individual person engage in an economic transaction with a private company. The most important response to these arguments stems from the constitution itself. "The Constitution gives Congress the power to tax and spend money for...
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