Posts Tagged - ‘individual mandate’

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Florida Rep. Tries Anti-Health Insurance Mandate Amendment Again

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

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Last year, State Representative Scott Plakon (R-Florida) attempted to put a measure that would amend the state’s constitution to forbid mandating the purchase of health insurance on the ballot. That time, a judge rejected it due to what was considered overly political and misleading language.

Undaunted, Plakon is trying again. House Joint Resolution 1 would challenge the Obama administration’s healthcare reform legislation, which will eventually fine certain individuals and employers for failing to purchase affordable health insurance. It would give Florida more legal standing in its lawsuit against the federal government’s provision.

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Another State to Join Healthcare Reform Lawsuit?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

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Although the very first challenge to the Obama adminstration’s affordable health insurance reform law was rejected by the Supreme Court, that isn’t stopping states from continuing to oppose it. Over 20 attorney generals launched a lawsuit over the individual mandate provision earlier this year; it is predicted that arguments will be heard sometime in 2011.

Now, Kansas is mulling over the possibility of becoming yet another plaintiff in the large Florida-led case. The Republicans recently elected to state office, Governor-elect Sam Brownback and Attorney General-elect Derek Schmidt, have vowed to mount legal challenges. However, it will most likely take awhile for them to gear up for it.

Ironically, former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who retired in order to become the Secretary of Health and Human Services, is in charge of promoting and implementing the healthcare reform legislation.

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First Legal Challenge of Healthcare Reform Fails

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Image: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

A rare bright spot for the Obama administration this past week: a legal review of the healthcare reform law was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Granted, it wasn’t necessarily a referendum on the merits (or lack thereof) of the changes to the health insurance plan market in America. Instead, the challenge–filed by a conservative legal group in California–was denied because similar legal challenges are already winding their way through the lower courts. Moreover, the individual mandate provision at the centerpiece of the lawsuit is not scheduled to take effect until 2014.

Interestingly, both Justices Elena Kagan (a former Department of Justice lawyer for the current administration, although she didn’t participate in healthcare reform-related litigation) and Clarence Thomas (whose wife, Virginia, is a high-profile activist seeking repeal of the law) did not exclude themselves from the decision.

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Michigan Judge Says Health Insurance Reform is Constitutional

Monday, October 11th, 2010

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Opponents of healthcare reform are pinning their hopes of overturning the law on the legal system. Specifically, they contend that the individual mandate provision that requires people to purchase a health insurance plan violates states’ rights.

That argument was recently rejected by one federal judge. In Michigan, U.S. District Judge George Sheeh accepted the Obama administration’s contention that the refusal to buy health coverage materially affects interstate commerce; therefore, Congress has the right to create the mandate.

Of course, the plaintiffs will appeal. Also, two other similar lawsuits are pending in Florida and Virginia–which may be in more conservative districts.

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Arizona Proposition Would Ban Affordable Health Insurance Mandate

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

The issue of healthcare reform is very controversial. Proponents admit that while the bill isn’t perfect, one of the most unpopular elements is necessary. Basically, in order to provide affordable health insurance without a public option or a national health service, private health insurers must be induced to accept the more popular regulations (such as accepting people with pre-existing conditions) by guaranteeing them a larger supply of healthy consumers, which is where the individual mandate comes in.

In November, Arizona voters will try to launch a challenge to that provision. Proposition 106 would write a ban against forcing residents to buy health coverage into the state constitution. Tea party groups believe that the Healthcare Freedom Act will inspire conservative voters to head to the polls, voting for Republican candidates at the same time. A similar proposition narrowly failed in 2008.

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Health Insurance Plans’ Autism Coverage Under Fire

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

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Republicans running for Congress this year are touting their anti-Obamacare credentials. Nevada’s Sharron Angle is no different. Boosted by the tea party past a more moderate candidate in the GOP primary, she is going up against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November. As one of the key architects behind the controversial healthcare reform law, Reid is in danger of losing his seat.

Angle is obviously against the individual coverage mandate, as well as health insurance plans being forced to cover certain conditions. She blames the latter for raising costs. Video from a speech last year on that issue has recently been released to controversy. In that speech, Angle railed against a state law that requires health insurers to cover early treatment for autism spectrum disorders. When she mentioned the word “autism”, she used air quotes, which some have interpreted as meaning that she doesn’t believe that autism is a legitimate condition that children’s health insurance should treat.

Not done offending people, Angle went on to say that maternity coverage should not be mandated, since she herself is done having children.

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Impact of Affordable Health Insurance Reform on Farming Families

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Image: AJay Tallam under CC 3.0

Although agriculture currently employs under 2% of American workers, farmers play a significant role in feeding the nation. How will affordable health insurance reform affect them?

For farming families, the impact is mixed.

On the positive side:

  • Health insurance exchanges will be created in 2014, which are meant to make prices more competitive for farmers and others.
  • A family of four that earns up to $88,000 will be eligible for subsidies to help them purchase health insurance. Most small farmers fall under this threshold.

Unfortunately, there is also bad news. Most significant is the individual mandate, which will require everyone to buy an individual health insurance plan. However, the annual penalty for not purchasing it is fairly minor.

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Healthcare Reform Lawsuit Arguments Continue

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
health insurance plans
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When it comes to healthcare reform, controversy is never far behind. The federal government has continued to argue that the law is constitutional. In a district court, their lawyers claim that the burden of proof should be on the coalition of states suing.

Specifically, the states claim harm from the provision that mandates the purchase of health insurance plans. If a person or business does not comply, they are subject to annual fines of $695. However, the plaintiffs have allegedly failed to demonstrate imminent or actual financial injury, since that aspect of the legislation does not take effect until 2014.

Moreover, the federal government claims that even if the penalty (which would be collected by the IRS) is technically considered a tax, the Anti-Injunction Act prevents states from challenging it, since the individual mandate is considered integral to the structure of the bill.

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Amendment Against Ohio Health Insurance Mandate?

Friday, May 28th, 2010

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In Ohio, a group of “tea party” activists are looking to enact a state constitutional amendment that would exempt them from one of the major elements of healthcare reform: the individual mandate.

Ohio Liberty and American Patriots Against Government Excess want to put the Health Care Freedom Amendment on this November’s ballot, and are currently gathering petitions. If it passes, it would prevent any state or federal agency from mandating a person or employer to purchase Ohio health insurance–or pay a penalty or fine for failing to do so.

Laws in place before March 19th (prior to President Obama signing the health care bill) will not be affected.

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Obama Administration Wants VA Healthcare Reform Lawsuit Dismissed

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

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Yesterday, Department of Justice Lawyers requested that a federal judge dismiss the state of Virginia’s lawsuit against healthcare reform.

Shortly before the federal legislation passed, Virginia passed a state law that forbids any entity from mandating that its residents purchase a health insurance plan. Its attorney general then filed a lawsuit on the grounds that the individual mandate that is at the center of the Obama administration’s reform efforts is an unconstitutional overreach on the part of the federal government, therefore violating the 10th Amendment. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said in the government’s motion that the Commerce Clause allowed them the power to regulate this issue, and that striking down the provision would virtually cancel out the law’s attempt to control costs while simultaneously expanding coverage.

The judge is still mulling over both sides’ arguments. Whether or not this particular Virginia health insurance mandate lawsuit continues, there is still the one from 20 other states to deal with.

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