Is it legal? Is IRS enforcement the best we can do?
It is a fact, that every citizen SHOULD have health insurance as a function of being a good citizen of the Republic. It is also a fact, that individuals do pretty much as they please and what is good for them at the moment. Many of these folks who CHOOSE not to buy health insurance (as opposed to those who truly cannot buy insurance) are young, still drive cars, go to concerts, buy CDs and DVDs, purchase tobacco products, liquor and other substances (legal and illegal). They have CHOSEN not to apply their resources to being a good citizen. Many have chosen NOT to buy health insurance coverage.
This bill expands the power, size and reach of the IRS. How much? The IRS will expand by some 16,500 new agents with an expenditure of over 10 billion dollars in order to oversee enforcement of the new health insurance mandates on individuals and businesses. It is the IRS under this bill that is charged with enforcement along with the sharing of the confidential tax information of citizens with the Department of Health and Human Services. This approach is akin to creating what may well amount to a KGB or Gestapo like entity (many already feel this way about the IRS and current tax law) with much broader powers to delve into the private lives of American citizens.
I do not know obviously, but it seems that the Federal Government does not have this right. Yet, we know from the recent history of legislative action and court rulings that the Federal Government has been able to carry out many actions which clearly appear to be and in fact are unconstitutional, save for rulings by 9 members of the Supreme Court. In the end, the individual mandate could well be the Achilles’s heel of the bill. In refusing to allow the sale of health insurance across state lines, something that conservatives had championed, it would appear that the authority of Congress may have been overstepped. How so? If health insurance cannot be sold over state lines, there is no interstate commerce. As such, the authority of the Congress to regulate intrastate commerce is limited and therefore this makes the issue suspect.
We have championed the idea of individual responsibility for health insurance coverage and removing this burden from ALL businesses. Businesses are not in business to be health insurers but to operate their enterprises within their chosen area of activity. If health insurance was totally an individual issue, then portability as well as loss of coverage, COBRA issues and the like would be moot. Nevertheless, the legality of a mandate for an activity which has no commerce across state lines as well as the enforcement issues raise serious questions. Time will tell how this will play out. We hope that in the end, meaningful reforms, whether under this bill, a subsequent bill or amendments to this bill will remain, while the onerous parts of this bill are removed . . . obi jo