The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) came under heavy fire at a hearing today before a House health panel, with witnesses calling the law unconstitutional and saying it is an inappropriate subsidy for health insurers and the insured.
Witnesses said the legislation will raise employment costs when fully implemented in 2014 and that the “individual mandate is not a tax because its primary purpose is to punish, not to raise revenue.”
Ironically, the only PPACA supporter to testify at the hearing cited the 1944 Supreme Court case, United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Ass’n.
The 1944 decision prompted Congress to enact the McCarran-Ferguson Act.
That law reserves insurance regulation to the states. “It is common ground on all sides of the ACA litigation that the Commerce Clause gives Congress broad authority to regulate insurance,” stated Neil S. Siegel a professor of law and political science at the Duke University Law School.
“It is thus also undisputed in the litigation that Congress has the constitutional authority to guarantee access to health insurance in the ACA by prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions, canceling insurance absent fraud, charging higher premiums based on medical history, and imposing lifetime limits on benefits,” Siegal said.
The hearing, the Individual and Employee Mandates in the Democrats’ Health Care Law, was held by the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee.
The panel is chaired by Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif.
Critics of the law included Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network.
She said the Obama administration’s expansive interpretation of its authority in the PPACA “goes against 200 years of history and all Supreme Court precedent.”
“As both the Congressional Research Service and the Congressional Budget Office have observed, the PPACA is entirely without precedent insofar as it mandates individuals to enter a stream of commerce,” Severino said. “The fact that, over the course of two centuries, Congress never used this purported power to compel purchases, suggests that Congress never has understood itself to have this power in the first place.”