By Nicholas Lawrence
The Supreme Court is set to rule on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, in June. Twenty-six states brought the act to court after it was passed, saying it is unconstitutional, specifically regarding the individual mandate. Well, we’re going to talk about what the mandate means and the criticism it is facing.
Interesting tidbit though, according to factchecked.org, many republicans into the 1990s thought that the individual mandate was a good idea, and up until he was elected president, Obama was against the individual mandate, both a stark contrast from what we see today in Congress.
The Pew Research Center recently did a poll which showed that 56 percent of people opposed the mandate, while 41 percent were in favor. 3 percent didn’t know. And a Recent Gallup poll said that about 72 percent of people say the law is unconstitutional.
Ok, what is the individual mandate? The individual mandate, or “minimum coverage requirement,” says that all people must have some sort of insurance. The exceptions are recognized religious groups, Native American tribes, those in jail, those whose incomes are so low they don’t have to pay taxes, undocumented immigrants and those who cannot afford it. For the purpose of the law, individuals who can afford insurance is defined by people who’s minimum policy is less than 8 percent of their monthly income, according to The Washington Post.
The actual language is below in the transcript. It’s a bit long to include here.
`(a) Requirement To Maintain Minimum Essential Coverage- An applicable individual shall for each month beginning after 2013 ensure that the individual, and any dependent of the individual who is an applicable individual, is covered under minimum essential coverage for such month.
`(b) Shared Responsibility Payment-
`(1) IN GENERAL- If an applicable individual fails to meet the requirement of subsection (a) for 1 or more months during any calendar year beginning after 2013, then, except as provided in subsection (d), there is hereby imposed a penalty with respect to the individual in the amount determined under subsection (c).
But essentially you must have some sort of health insurance plan or you are penalized. The penalty is fully in place in 2016. Those who don’t have insurance will be fined $695 or 2.5 percent of their income, whichever is higher.
It is this part of the law that is expected to be targeted from the Supreme Court. Can the federal government force you to purchase something? There are many valid concerns here. Republicans think that this bill took too large a step in the interactions government has in our lives. They don’t think that the Commerce Clause, which allows the government to manage interstate activity, provides for the measures of this minimum coverage requirement. Democrats defend this, largely citing previous examples such as the requirement of car insurance to legally drive. Both sides disagree with the effect the mandate will have on jobs, the deficit and the economy. Speculators ponder whether the individual mandate will be struck down, whether the entire law will be struck down or whether anything will happen at all. We will see in June.Contact Nicholas Lawrence.