This paper presents my proposed amendments to the U.S constitution, especially the first, second and third sections on health insurance. It, therefore, presents a brief introduction in relation to the federal government health reforms and presents the significance of these reforms on the US citizens. The paper goes further and analyses the US constitution in relation to the laws related to the proposed amendments by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 and Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr. Lastly, the paper examines both the supporting and opposing evidence in relation to the topic. Finally, the paper concludes by suggesting amendments to the US constitution so that all citizens must carry health insurance, the federal government must also offer health insurance at an affordable cost and each state should budget to aid its citizens.
A mandate requiring all the U.S Citizens to carry health insurance, federal government provisions of health insurance at an affordable cost and each state having a budget to aid its citizens will be a precedent form of federal and state action which will ensure that American live a decent life. Therefore, there is need to ensure that the US constitution is amended. Therefore section 1 should state that the federal and state governments shall ensure that all citizens carry health insurance, section 2. That the federal government is grants powers to offer affordable health insurance to its citizens and section 3. That all states and its agencies shall have the authority shall make a budget to aid its citizens.
Analysis of the constitution
The right to health is not explicitly expressed in the United States constitution. Terms such as medical care or health are missing in the constitution text. The framers of the constitution were more interested in ensuring that the America's citizens enjoy freedom from the government, rather than giving the government specific rights to provide services. An ingenious system was put in place in order to ensure checks and balance and created a division between the federal authority and the state so as to ensure that the freedom of its citizens is protected from too much control of the government (Weeks 327). The constitution, therefore, creates a legislature which has enumerated and limited powers. For instance Article 1 of the US constitution allocated to congress all legislative powers, however, some powers are beyond the reach of the congress. The constitutions necessary and proper clause also gives the congress the power to come up with laws that will ensure that the powers that are vested within the constitution are proper and necessary used by any government and department officer.
The original constitution presented a few individual rights such as protection for contracts, the writ of habeas corpus, the right to a jury trial and protection against ex-post facto laws (Swendiman 4). The Bill of rights was introduced to the constitution in 1971, while amendments added after the civil war. Most of the amendments focused on political and civil rights, not economic and social rights. There had been proposals to amend the US constitution so as to include a specific right to health care. For example, President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 advanced the Second Bill of Rights which consisted of an opportunity for Americans to enjoy good health and have the right to medical care (Swendiman 4). In 2009, Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr. come up with a bill that proposed amendments to the U.S constitution so as to ensure that there is a right to health care. The US constitution does not give the congress any mandate that allows it to make a private party enter a contract with an individual nor procure services or goods. This paper, therefore, will tend to justify that the power vested in the congress to tax or either regulate the interstate commerce justify an individual mandate.
Article 1, Section 8, clause 1, is one of the most utilized constitutional grants of power for the health care spending. This clause states that the congress is granted power to collect and lay taxes in order to provide for U.S general welfare (Rory 327). There is also the provision of power to the congress to come up with laws that will be necessary and proper to it carrying out its foregoing powers. The foregoing powers include the power of spending and taxing. The congress has the extremely broad taxation powers as per the Supreme Courts recognition. Moreover, one of the broadest constitutional grants authorities to the congress is the power to spend for the general welfare.
Examining Supporting evidence
The individual mandate advocates such as Professor of law Erwin Chemerinsky and Speaker Nancy Pelosi were of the opinion that the health insurance requirement is constitutionally right in relation to US Supreme Court commerce clause jurisprudence. Article 1, section 8 grants the congress powers to regulate trade with its foreign partners, Indian tribes, and other states. Despite the struggle of both the Supreme Court and the congress in defining the authority but it has been understood that there exist some limits that the congress ought not to go. (Bednarek, Heather L., and Barbara S. Schone 403)
The provision of health care services by governments can be found in various U.S state constitutions. For instance, the constitutions of thirteen states in the U.S consist of the provisions which refer specifically to matters related to health (Timothy 362). The requirement of the state protects and provides public health care is found in New York, Hawaii, Alaska, North Carolina and Wyoming states. For example, the Alaskas constitution states that the legislature shall provide for the protection and promotion of public health. The Wyoming state constitution recognizes that morality and health of the people as they are very important to their wellbeing, hence the state has an obligation to promote and protect this interests. Some constitutions of other states permit and require a legislative action for the funding of health care services for special groups such as the indigent persons. For instance, the Mississippi constitution permits the state government to take of indigent sick in state own hospitals. The insane people also benefit from the health provisions in Arkansass constitution that require the legislature to provide health care for the insane (Swendiman 12). Therefore, the constitutions of various authorize the provision of health care services. Some states had opted to opt out or nullify the federal care reforms requirements, however, in 2010, Virginia was amongst the first state to enact statutes that were in line with the provision the Federal Health Care Reforms. The Virginia statute stated that as a matter of law in Virginia, no individual shall obtain or maintain a policy of individual insurance cover. Idaho also enacted a law similar to that.
Examining Opposing evidence
It can be argued that the law that ensures automobile drivers to use public roads while carrying auto insurance cards is not different from ensuring that the US citizens obtain health insurance covers. However, the US constitution has clauses that render the comparison inapposite. The Chief Justice Marshall was of the opinion that the legislatures powers were limited and defined within the constitution, therefore, this limits ought not to be forgotten nor mistaken as the US constitution is a written law. While interpreting the Necessary and Proper clause, the Chief Justice Marshall affirmed that it will be very painful to the duty of the Supreme Court if the congress passes laws under the pretext of executing powers and passes the law that is not in entrusted to the government.
Despite the state of Virginia being the first state government to comply with the Federal government health provisions, the statute that they enacted went contrary to the section 1501 of PPACA which holds that individuals by the year 2014 needed to purchase health insurance cover. The Utah bill which was signed into law in the year 2010, prohibited individual health insurance reform and prohibited state agency in implementing the federal health reforms without the Utah legislature consent. Legislators in 38 states have ended up introducing bills that oppose, limit or even change the provisions of federal reforms related to health care (Swendiman 11). Most of these legislatures have sought to ensure that individuals can procure health insurance of any type of coverage and also the health insurance being considered as optional.
There have been a good number of lawsuits related to the constitutionality of the individual health insurance mandate. For instance, 13 states in the year 2010 filed a lawsuit in Florida that the proposed Act was an unprecedented encroachment on the individuals liberty and it exceeded the powers of the Federal government under Article 1 of the constitution and also it violated the constitution tenth amendment (Swendiman 10). On the same day when there was the filing of a lawsuit in Florida, another one was filed in Virginia. Virginia State had enacted a statute that no residents of this state would be required either to maintain or acquire individual insurance coverage (Weeks 337). Thomas More Law Center which is a public interest law firm also filed a lawsuit on behalf of four individuals and itself claiming that the congress lacked power under the clause on commerce in the U.S constitution to force private individuals to procure health care policy.
The provision of affordable health care of benefit to the citizens of any state. Therefore, the amendment of the U.S constitution section1, 2 & 3 is of great importance towards the legalization of the federal government health reforms. Moreover, through critical examination of both the supporting and opposing evidence in relation to the proposed health law, it is clear that the law provides power to both the federal and states governments to safeguard its citizen's welfare. Therefore, the proposed amendments are justified.
Bednarek, Heather L., and Barbara S. Schone. "Variation in Preventive Service Use Among the
Insured and Uninsured: Does Length of Time Without Coverage Matter?" Journal of
Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 14.3 (2003): 403-19. Print.
Swendiman, Kathleen. Health Care: Constitutional Rights and Legislative Powers. Congressional
Research service, 2010. 1-12
Rory, Weiner. Universal Health Insurance under State Equal Protection Law. 2002. 23 W.
New Eng. L. Rev. 327,334
Timothy S. Jost, Can the States Nullify Health Care Reform? 362 New Eng. J. Med. 869-871
(November 8, 2016), available at http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/362/16/869.
Weeks, Elizabeth. State Constitutionalism and the Right to Health Care (updated August 13,
2009), available at http://works.bepress.com/elizabeth_weeks/3/.
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