Mike Kueber's Blog

June 22, 2012

A primer on federal police powers

Filed under: Issues,Medical,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 12:36 pm
Tags: , , ,

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected any day to determine the constitutionality of ObamaCare.  Although many conservatives have attacked ObamaCare on the basis of its massive intrusion in health insurance, the Court has already accepted such intrusion by government as valid under two different powers:

  1. The federal government can regulate private health insurance, like it already does employee health insurance under the ERISA law, under the interstate-commerce power in the U.S. Constitution.  The question for the Supreme Court is whether that power includes the right to require that individuals purchase health insurance.
  2. State governments can regulate health insurance, including a requirement like that in Massachusetts to purchase insurance, under its police power.  This power is defined in Merriam-Webster as “the inherent power of a government to exercise reasonable control over persons and property within its jurisdiction in the interest of the general security, health, safety, morals, and welfare except where legally prohibited.”  Under the Tenth Amendment, police powers are reserved to the States.

Thus, even if the U.S. Supreme Court determines that the federal government has no right under its interstate-commerce power to require individuals to buy health insurance, there is a strong possibility that it will validate the federal take-over of private health insurance, just as it did with employee health insurance under ERISA.  Furthermore, regardless of whether ObamaCare is found unconstitutional, in whole or in part, any state will be able to adopt a program similar to ObamaCare of RomneyCare.





  1. give me a break. the usa already provides free health care to those that can’t or won’t pay. those of us that pay taxes already pay for it… we had a chance to get more people paying into the system…

    Comment by q — June 24, 2012 @ 7:02 pm | Reply

    • But if you want more people paying into the system, the constitution requires that you go with state laws or a single-payor federal plan.

      Comment by Mike Kueber — June 24, 2012 @ 7:54 pm | Reply

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