Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Judge in Richmond will rule on whether Congress can regulate "individual inactivity" (mandatory health insurance purchase)

A federal judge (Henry E. Hudson) in Richmond will rule on the constitutionality of the “mandatory purchase” provision of the new health care reform law by the end of 2011, according to a Washington Post story Tuesday by Rosalind S. Helderman, link here.

At issue is whether the explicit power given to Congress to regulate interstate commerce means that Congress can regulate an individual’s inactivity. This sounds related (to me at least) to past debates over conscription, and as to whether people can be compelled to support others when they did not cause the need. There are constitutional, legal, moral and ethical questions.

It is true that if the healthy buy insurance, the cost is spread out among everyone and providers are less likely to jack up prices to make up for everyone.

Update: Oct. 20

An LTE ("Whose health-care rights?") on p A16 of The Washington Post by Jerry Harold suggests "no pay, no play" legislation if Virginia's challenge holds. One could deny medical treatment to people who did not enroll in "affordable insurance exchanges."

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