Rule of Law

State lawmakers back healthcare mandate


The Hill
State lawmakers back healthcare mandate
By Sam Baker
June 6, 2011


The legal battle over healthcare reform’s coverage mandate is often portrayed as a battle between states and the federal government. But a group of state legislators says it’s not that simple.

More than 150 state legislators have signed a brief supporting the requirement that most people buy insurance. State attorneys general from 26 states have sued over the policy, saying it’s unconstitutional.

“The benefits of national health care reform for states and their citizens will be substantial, in part because the size of the problem with health care is so great,” the lawmakers’ brief says.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case this week. The lower court ruled not only that the mandate is unconstitutional, but also that it can’t be separated from the rest of the law.

Opponents of the mandate argue that Congress can regulate the economic activities in which people choose to participate, but can’t mandate that participation. Supporters say the coverage mandate simply regulates how people will pay for the healthcare services that almost everyone will use at some point.

“There is no constitutionally protected right to freeload that is infringed by the individual responsibility aspect of the minimum coverage provision,” the state lawmakers wrote in their brief.