Nullification is defined as the failure or refusal of a U.S. state to aid in the enforcement of federal laws within its limits, especially on Constitutional grounds(www.dictionary.com, 2018). This practice has been underway in the United States over the last several years. Some examples in recent years include state marijuana laws, federal gun laws, and even same-sex marriage. However, the one that stuck out the most to me is health care. The federal law that is currently being challenged by uncooperative states is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare. Some people say it is saving our country, others say it is destroying our country. But throughout this paper, I will identify the pros and cons of Obamacare and explain why particular states are nullifying the law and how they are doing so.
Starting off with the pros, passed by U.S. Congress in March of 2010, the Affordable Care Act was designed to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable healthcare regardless of age, sex, or race. Essentially, Obamacare is supposed to represent a medium that still allows people to choose their own health package but also prevents people from being abused by the system (The Balance, 2018). Obamacare supposedly does this by offering people subsidies on government healthcare policies and expanding the Medicaid system up to 26 years of age ensure the less fortunate to be able to afford as well. As well as this, The Affordable Care Act also contains certain rules that insurance companies must now follow to prevent people from being mistreated by the system. For example, people can no longer be refused insurance or be forced to pay huge premiums simply for having a preexisting condition.
Moving forward to the cons, the issue with Obama Care is that some argue that it has caused insurance premiums and deductibles to skyrocket. Another con for this bill includes the individual mandate that forces people to pay for a penalty for not purchasing health insurance. For example, all the young and healthy Americans who aren’t covered felt that they did not want to pay high premiums for health care they may never use. Moreover, the people who can afford to pay the premiums may not be able to afford because of high deductibles. The issue with that is in the United States people want to be free to make their own decisions about medical treatment for themselves and their loved ones.
States are nullifying this law because, forcing Americans to buy something is a coerced contract, which is an oxymoron on the law. The constitutionality of the healthcare reform law lies at the heart of this debate which is the individual mandate. This portion of the law basically says that every American must buy health insurance whether they want to or not. Now the reason why this is so controversial is that contrary to sort of a popular misconception, Congress does not have the power to pass any kind of law it wants to in the name of the general welfare. Instead, every time Congress passes a law it must base that law in one of seventeen very specific enumerated power sources listed in article one section eight of the Constitution. In the case of the individual mandate, the power source relied upon is Congress’s power to “regulate commerce”. The question is, does the power to regulate commerce include the power to compel it? And that answer is no. For hundreds of years prior to the ratification of the constitution, it’s been understood that to be legally binding, a contract must be based on voluntary, mutual assent of the parties to the contract. So, in other words, the law has always presupposed that you cannot coerce a contract, i.e. an oxymoron under the law. The implications for individual liberty are enormous because presumably if the power to regulate commerce includes the power to compel or coerce contracts, lifelong contracts against your will then presumably it doesn’t just stop with this individual mandate. Our individual liberty is at stake because they can force us to buy anything else. So, you must realize that whether you like the idea of providing access to health insurance or not, you should as an American have deep constitutional concerns about the implications of upholding this individual mandate. It would effectively eviscerate the constitutional architecture that we’re supposed to have where the federal government is supposed to only have limited and enumerated powers only. This version of a commerce clause would be unstoppable. It would create an omnipotent legislature. Moreover, that’s exactly the kind of legislature that our founding generation spilled its blood to resist.
According to the Tenth Amendment which states, “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people” (Study.com, 2018), as a rule of construction we are told two primary things. First, the federal power is strictly limited, meaning they are only authorized to exercise those powers delegated to it in the constitution and nothing more. Second, the people are in charge, meaning if something isn’t delegated to the federal government and isn’t expressly prohibited to the state then the people of each state get to determine whether they want to deal with something and how. Out of 50 states, 27 so far have filed suits against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. These states strongly feel that the mandate is clearly unconstitutional, and they are finally acting upon nullification rights to do something about it. Since our founding fathers have paved the way for a stable foundation of a country, many people in today’s congress misinterpret the commerce clause. This clause was intended for the states to promote trade amongst each other. I highly doubt it was intended as a power-up scheme to force today’s society into buying health insurance policies. Among the 27 states, a few have decided not to wait for pending outcomes of current nullification lawsuits in the federal court system. Their ways of doing so are by simultaneously voiding Obamacare through their state legislatures. In doing so allowed 12 states to adopt a version of the Federal Health Care Nullification Act, which are bills that refuse the compliance of Obamacare. The Federal Health Care Nullification Act states that Obamacare is hereby declared to be invalid, shall not be recognized, is specifically rejected, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect (Tenth Amendment Center, 2018). A few states such as Wyoming, Texas, Maine, Montana, and Oregon have already adopted and introduced this Act in their state to nullify Obamacare. Moreover, in January of this year, the Governor of Idaho signed an executive order that allowed insurance companies to offer cheaper plans that ignore the mandates of Obamacare in the state.
In conclusion, throughout this paper, I discussed the practice of nullification and how it has been underway in the United States over the last several years. I also identified the pros and cons of Obamacare and explained why particular states are nullifying the law and how they are doing so. All in all, I feel that the overreaching of the government will continue to take over our health care systems if we the people ignore the fact that we have rights to tell the federal government No. I also feel we need to utilize our right of the Tenth Amendment to prevent future unconstitutional laws from being passed.
www.dictionary.com. (2018). the definition of nullification. online Available at: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/nullification Accessed 9 Nov. 2018.
Tenth Amendment Center. (2018). Federal Health Care Nullification Act | Tenth Amendment Center. online Available at: https://tenthamendmentcenter.com/nullification/health-care-nullification-act/ Accessed 8 Nov. 2018.
Study.com. (2018). The 10th Amendment: Definition, Summary & Examples – Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.com. online Available at: https://study.com/academy/lesson/the-10th-amendment-definition-summary-examples.html Accessed 7 Nov. 2018.
The Balance. (2018). What You Really Need to Know About Obamacare. online Available at: https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-obamacare-the-aca-and-what-you-need-to-know-3306065 Accessed 14 Nov. 2018.