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Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often shortened to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or nicknamed Obamacare, is a United States federal statute enacted by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. The term "Obamacare" was first used by opponents, then reappropriated by supporters, and eventually used by President Obama himself. Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 amendment, it represents the U.S. healthcare system's most significant regulatory overhaul and expansion of coverage since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

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A section of interest within the Affordable Care Act bylaws is the section on individual mandate! It requires that: U.S. citizens and legal residents to have qualifying health coverage. In addition, individuals without coverage will have to pay a tax penalty of the greater of $695 per year which could add up to a maximum total of $2,085 per family or 2.5% of household income. Fortunately there are exemptions that will be granted. For example: individuals with “financial hardship, religious objections, American Indians, those without coverage for less than three months, undocumented immigrants, incarcerated individuals, those for whom the lowest cost plan option exceeds 8% of an individual’s income, and those with incomes below the tax filing threshold.” This Section is extremely fascinating to me because it "forces" citizens to partake in health insurance and if you don't then you will penalize monetarily! The sole purpose of being the “land of the free” contradicts this notion because this makes people join something that they once did not have before! An article that I felt was dead on the nail was "Constitutional challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" written by Elizabeth J Bondurant and Steven D. Henry. In this article it explains in depth of what the individual mandate truly means to us by focusing on the Commerce Clause. There has been an uproar within congress that the mandate is unconstitutional. In two important cases, Commonwealth and Florida, the plaintiffs introduced the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Commerce Clause states that the "United States Congress shall have power "[t]o regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." This section of the Commerce Clause allows Congress to regulate intrastate activities that have close ties to or a substantial relationship or effect on commerce. As time goes on, the Commerce Clause has been used by Congress for authority purposes. Also, the PPACA incorporated the Commerce Clause in a way that showed that the mandate "requires" all persons over age 18 to purchase health insurance. I do agree with the notion that health insurance companies cannot push away people with preexisting condition. This is awesome for individuals that have life threatening diseases to be covered instead of being denied or charged high premiums previously. . Commonwealth was the first case that stated that the individual mandate was unconstitutional. The court ruled that because the individual mandate “does not focus on an activity "selfinitiated" by an individual.” Purchasing is an individual’s decision and is not in the scope of the Commerce Clause. Moreover, the individual mandate “regulates economic inactivity, as opposed to activity." The section of the mandate that bothers me is the act of punishing individuals without health insurance. Most young people do not use health insurance but will be paying for elders and ill people that will use health insurance on a weekly basis. It’s not fair that individuals will purchase health insurance and ultimately not use it. Word Count: 498 Reference: Bondurant, Elizabeth J., and Steven D. Henry. "CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGES TO THE PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT." Defense Counsel Journal 78.2 (2011): 249-52. ProQuest. Web. 17 June 2013.

Contributed by Amber Bennett

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