Government-Mandated Health Care Legislation and the Constitution


By Richard H. Frank 

As the Senate approaches the eleventh hour for passage of their version of healthcare legislation, we are finally hearing a few conservative voices questioning if such legislation is in fact constitutional.  Obviously, the democratic leadership in the House of Representatives and the Senate are not familiar with the Constitution or they would know that the legislation as written is neither allowed for nor in agreement with that document.  

Some congressional lawyers contend that Congress has authority to make laws under the Commerce Clause.  Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution does not empower Congress to legislate mandates upon the citizenry which are contained in their bill.  The Commerce Clause does allow regulation between the states and foreign nations but does not allow direct regulation of the citizen.  The appropriate role of congressional involvement might be to allow health care companies to sell insurance across state lines. This would create greater competition and an immediate reduction on premiums paid by employers and/or individuals.

 Another argument used to thwart the Constitution is that “to provide for the general welfare of the United States” is authorized by the Constitution. This language is taken completely out of context.  The Constitution provides that the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare… shall be uniform through the United States” does not extend to heath care.  “General welfare” means to protect the nation” not to mandate insurance purchases by individuals and impose fines and/or imprisonment upon them should they fail to purchase the same.  This would be pure tyranny! 

Those of us who believe in the Founders’’ intent of the Constitution argue that any such legislation enacted by Congress and the President is in direction violation of the “Tenth Amendment.” 

“The powers not delegated to the United States (Congress) by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it (the Constitution) to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the People.” 

The Tenth Amendment makes such legislation the province for the states and not the Federal Government.  The Constitution is not silent and cannot be clearer on this matter. 

Should the proposed legislation proceed and become law, it is incumbent upon every citizen to pressure their state legislatures to challenge the constitutionality of the law and restore the proper balance between state and federal governmental power. 

In the interim, we must challenge our representatives and senators to stand firm and address the constitutionality of this legislation while in conference.  Stop this legislation now before it becomes law or our freedoms will be impacted forever.

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