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Individual Mandate

OPINION
September 26, 2009
Republicans and Democrats have finally found common ground in the debate over the healthcare reform bills moving through Congress. Unfortunately for the bills' advocates, the two sides are united in their distaste for a central part of the legislation: the requirement that every American obtain health insurance. The complaint from the right is that forcing people to buy policies is an unconstitutional infringement on individual liberty. The critique from the left is that the mandate imposes too great a burden on members of the working class, who would have to spend up to 12% of their incomes to buy policies.
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NEWS
December 27, 2011 | By Kim Geiger
As a Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich has routinely criticized rival Mitt Romney for enacting a 2006 healthcare bill in Massachusetts that required citizens to carry health insurance. But a video and newsletter unearthed Tuesday show that Gingrich, as a private citizen, was a strong backer of the so-called individual mandate. Acknowledging that it was, “for a conservative, a little controversial,” Gingrich said in 2008 that he believed, “You've got to require everybody to either have insurance or to post a bond.” (Video below.)
NEWS
March 29, 2012 | By Jon Healey
For wont of the right word, will "Obamacare" be lost? Some analysts are predicting the demise of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, saying the Supreme Court will declare unconstitutional the law's requirement to buy insurance, then find the measure unsustainable without it. This is purely speculation, of course; the justices aren't expected to release their decision until the end of the current term in June. Nevertheless, the back and forth in the courtroom this week -- and particularly the conservative justices' grilling of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the administration's principal attorney -- suggested that defenders of the law would have been on much more solid ground had they made two changes in the terms used to describe one of the core features of the act. At issue are two aspects of the individual mandate, the requirement that virtually all adult Americans maintain insurance coverage.
NATIONAL
June 29, 2011 | By Noam N. Levey and David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
President Obama's healthcare overhaul survived its first test before a federal appellate court, as the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati concluded that the law's insurance requirement is constitutional. "We find that the minimum coverage provision is a valid exercise of legislative power by Congress under the Commerce Clause," a 2-1 majority of the panel concluded, rejecting a challenge by the conservative Thomas More Law Center. Notably joining the majority opinion was Judge Jeffrey Sutton, an appointee of President George W. Bush and a former law clerk to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
NATIONAL
March 26, 2012 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
The Supreme Court's opening day of arguments on the healthcare law will not focus on whether the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Instead, the justices will consider whether the legal challenge to it has arrived too soon. The problem is the Anti-Injunction Act, which dates to 1867. It says, "No suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person. " How does this figure in the healthcare case? It could block a suit against this key part of the healthcare law if it imposes a tax. The law seems to say that no one can sue over a tax provision until he or she has paid the tax. How is the Affordable Care Act a tax law?
NEWS
December 12, 2011 | By Michael A. Memoli
Say what you will about the political wisdom of making a $10,000 wager with one of your GOP rivals at a time of economic distress. As far as the fact-checkers are concerned, Rick Perry would be writing Mitt Romney a check today if he had taken him up on his wager on healthcare reform. During the discussion of mandates in Saturday's Iowa debate, Perry made this charge: "I read your first book and it said in there that your mandate in Massachusetts should be the model for the country.
NEWS
March 26, 2012 | By David G. Savage
The U.S. Supreme Court opened its historic session Monday to debate the constitutionality of President Obama's healthcare law. For the first time in decades, the court has set aside six hours of argument - most cases are limited to one hour - over three days. On Monday the justices started by handing down opinions before delving into 90 minutes of argument. But today's arguments do not focus on whether the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Instead, the justices are considering whether the legal challenge to it has arrived too soon.
NEWS
December 10, 2011 | By James Oliphant
Mitt Romney, the millionaire who has tried again and again to try to show voters that he's just another everyday Joe, may have given his GOP rivals and President Obama a gold-plated gift in Saturday's debate in Iowa. While sparring with Rick Perry over healthcare at the debate in Des Moines, Romney challenged Perry to a wager. The stakes? A cool 10 grand. That's not exactly your typical bar bet. Perry had accused Romney of altering a paperback version of his book to delete a line that had Romney wanting to make his Massachusetts healthcare plan a model for the rest of the nation, suggesting that Romney is a champion of an individual mandate to force people to purchase health insurance.
NEWS
June 28, 2012 | By Jon Healey
In their dissenting opinion Thursday, four of the Supreme Court's conservative justices wasted little time in revealing their exceedingly narrow view of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The first sentence by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. reads, "Congress has set out to remedy the problem that the best health care is beyond the reach of many Americans who cannot afford it....
OPINION
March 29, 2012 | Doyle McManus
In 2009, President Obama was asked whether the individual mandate in his healthcare plan was really just a tax in disguise. "I absolutely reject that notion," he responded. But if the president had been brave enough back then to call a tax a tax, his healthcare law might not be in such a mess today. At the Supreme Court this week, both sides basically agreed that the Constitution allows the federal government to enact a national health insurance plan - even a government-run single-payer plan.
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