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Obama Says Individual Mandate About Fairness, Ignores States’ Powers

August 18, 2011 by  

Obama Says Individual Mandate About Fairness, Ignores States’ Powers

On Monday, President Barack Obama, during the first stop on his three-day-long Economic Bus Tour of the Midwest, took questions at a town hall in Cannon Falls, Minn. One of the questioners referenced the recent decision by the 11th Circuit Appeals Court, which ruled that the individual mandate portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unConstitutional.

“[T]he individual mandate is important. Because the basic theory is, look, everybody here at some point or another is going to need medical care, and you can’t be a free-rider on everybody else — you can’t not have health insurance, then go to the emergency room and each of us who’ve done the responsible thing and have health insurance, suddenly we now have to pay the premiums for you. That’s not fair,” Obama said.

“This should not be controversial, but it has become controversial partly because of people’s view that — well, let me just say this: You’ve got a governor who’s running for president right now who instituted the exact same thing in Massachusetts,” Obama said. “There have been two appeals courts so far. One has said it’s fine. The other one has taken sort of the conservative line that this restricts freedom and Congress doesn’t have the authority to do it. If the Supreme Court follows existing precedent, existing law, it should be upheld without a problem.”

However, at least one columnist took issue with Obama’s dismissal of the 11th Circuit Appeals Court’s decision.

“In his first public comment on last week’s federal court ruling that declared the centerpiece of the health care law unconstitutional, President Obama today defended the law as good public policy but sidestepped, or chose to ignore, the legal issues at the core of the decision,” read an NBC column.

“But in invalidating the requirement that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals explicitly noted that the Constitution gives states much broader powers than the federal government to regulate health care. The health care industry ‘falls within the sphere of traditional state regulation,’ last Friday’s ruling said,” the column read. “It may not be fair, but that doesn’t make the individual mandate constitutional.”

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