Texans oppose insurance mandate
Nov 15, 2011 -
Wichita Falls Rep. Mac Thornberry said he hopes the Supreme Court agrees with him that President Barack Obama's 2010 health care overhaul is unconstitutional.
Thornberry and other Republicans have long taken issue with the law's individual mandate requiring Americans to buy health care insurance, starting in 2014, or pay a penalty.
"For the federal government to require everybody in the country to purchase a commercial product — and you will be fined and what not if you don't, I think is unconstitutional and a vast overreach of federal power," Thornberry of Clarendon said.
The Supreme Court announced Monday that it would hear oral arguments on the controversial Patient Protection and Affordability Act. The unusually long hearing — five and a half hours — is expected to happen in March.
Texas is among 26 states that have called for a repeal of the health care overhaul.
"With the Supreme Court's decision to hear our challenge to Obamacare, the federal health care law is closer to an end," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said.
Republicans like Abbott have framed their opposition to the law as a states' rights issue. Because of the individual mandate, they claim the federal government is intruding in areas where it has no authority.
Supporters of the law point to the Constitution as the authority for the individual mandate.
"The people who are claiming that this is the end of the law are trying to make up for the fact that they don't have anything in the Constitution backing them, by screaming really loudly," Ian Millhiser, a policy analyst for the Center for America Progress, said.
The Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate commerce among the states, Millhiser said.
The Patient Protection and Affordability Act "is a law that regulates trade in health care," he said.
Thornberry wasn't buying that argument.
Regulating trade is different from requiring the purchase of health insurance or payment of a punitive fine, he said.
But the individual mandate isn't the only thing he doesn't like about the law.
"I also object to the big growth in government, the cost of it creating new entitlements, the federal intrusiveness of regulating health care in many, many different ways," Thornberry said.
North Texas Rep. Randy Neugebauer said the Supreme Court review comes not a day too soon for small businesses and taxpayers.
"The small-business community can now have hope; their voices are going to be heard in the nation's highest court," said Neugebauer, a Republican from Lubbock who represents Young County and part of Archer County. "I join millions of other Americans in hoping that the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare as unconstitutional and counter to states' rights."
Lawmakers and groups on both sides of the issue welcomed the announcement, including the president.
Millhiser said the Supreme Court is reviewing the health care overhaul because one of four appeals courts that considered the law ruled against it.
But federal law has to be uniform in the states, so the Supreme Court is weighing in, he said.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled the individual mandate to buy insurance was not within the authority of Congress.
As first appeared on November 15, 2011. http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/2011/nov/15/texans-oppose-insurance-mandate/
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