Health Care Bill: Is it Constitutional?

Mike Hennessy
Published Online: Monday, April 2, 2012
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The constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) moves from water cooler talk to the Supreme Court on March 26. That’s almost the exact same day just 2 years ago when the bill was first passed. The American public continues to voice its own opinion of the health care bill, which mandates that individuals must buy health insurance—or pay a fine. Considerable new opposition is reflected in a new survey conducted by USA Today/Gallup among the nation’s top dozen “battleground states.”

Now, as the presidential primary season heats up, President Obama would like to take credit for this health care bill. It already covers 2.5 million young people, and by the time it is fully implemented “will give 30 million people health insurance,” as he noted at a recent local fund-raiser. But it seems that the president doesn’t want to draw too much national attention to it—the PPACA was only mentioned twice, briefly, at the recent State of the Union speech. If this new poll is any indication, the health care bill will be inescapable as an important national topic. In fact, it rates at the very top of voters’ concerns—right after the economy and the deficit.

The new poll, taken in mid-February, revealed that middle-of the-road voters ultimately felt uncomfortable with the health care bill as it is unfolding. Eight in 10 say it is “a bad thing,” and nearly 6 in 10 would like to see it repealed. If the poll is any indication of sentiment against big government, the 9 in 10 who feel the provision for requiring Americans to buy health insurance or pay a fine is unconstitutional are speaking up loudly against more government intervention in the public’s daily life.

Some health care policy makers say that Americans are wary of the bill and its long-term impact—plus, most don’t see what the bill can do for them. A total of 69% nationwide and 72% in the battleground states say that it has had no effect on their family yet. But when asked how it will ultimately affect their family, fully 41% nationwide and 42% in the swing states say that it will “make things worse.”

Certainly, making things worse is not what this country needs as small businesses, pharmacy owners among them, continue to struggle with rising health care costs. One has to question the time and money spent in Washington to debate these issues with no positive result. Now that presidential politics enters the scene, one can only wonder how the upcoming Supreme Court debate will impact public opinion further as the onion is peeled back and reality sets in.

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