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Healthcare Mandate Deliberations


Location: Washington, DC

Shortly after President Obama's election in 2009, a movement started in Washington to control costs of healthcare coverage through the establishment of a national healthcare system and a national mandate for individual coverage. In 2010, after a tumultuous debate with the American people clearly in opposition, then Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Congress "…had to pass it to see what was in it." Shortly thereafter, President Obama and Speaker Pelosi forced the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) through the U.S. House of Representatives despite strong opposition from the American public. With little understanding of the threat of new and far-reaching regulations and strong indications that the PPACA would raise healthcare costs for average Americans, PPACA was signed into law by the President. The people of the 15th District were very vocal throughout the healthcare debate. Innumerable constituents expressed grave concerns to me about the bill's cost and impact on their families' access to care. I voted against the PPACA.

Since then, the constitutionality of the President's healthcare plan has been called into question and has finally been taken up by the Supreme Court. The primary question addressed is whether or not Congress exceeded its authority granted under the Commerce Clause by mandating Americans purchase health insurance or else pay a tax. Congress has limited authority to regulate some economic activity; however, the PPACA has moved in to uncharted territory in that Congress now regulates economic inaction, specifically the choice to not purchase healthcare. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the individual mandate stating among other things that there is no precedent in American law for the Federal Government to regulate inactivity.

For this main reason I voted against the bill. I also believe that Congress does not have the authority to compel a citizen to economic action. This raises grave concerns about unrestrained federal power; if Congress can force people to purchase health insurance, what else can the government force them to do?

Many attending the hearings this week state that the justices appear to be closely divided. Regardless of these reports, the American people on the other hand have already spoken. We must repeal and replace this law with market-oriented reforms to lower the cost of healthcare. Once costs are controlled, more Illinois families will have access to better, private care instead of government rationed, government controlled medical systems, which only increases cost and rigidity of healthcare for Illinois families. For even more information on the Supreme Court Healthcare Deliberations read my full press release.

Tim Johnson

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