Public Health Expert Provides in Depth Look at Constitutionality of New Health Care Act

Supreme Court Resolution will Help Define the Scope of Government Authority to Act in the Interest of Public Health

Mar 25, 2011, 15:56 ET from Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

PHILADELPHIA, March 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In the second of two articles on the current Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a leading public health authority provides a comprehensive review and predicts the outcome of the case from a public health perspective in the current issue of Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a Wolters Kluwer Health business.

"Resolving of the constitutionality of the PPACA will define the scope and limits of the government's authority to act in the interest of public health," said lead author and public health professor Kenneth DeVille, PhD, JD. "The PPACA seeks to improve the general welfare, and it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will declare the individual mandate for insurance purchase beyond the powers of Congress."

The article provides an in-depth exploration of each of the concerns about the PPACA's constitutionality, including whether or not the right to regulate interstate commerce and the power to tax and provide for the general welfare give Congress the legal authority to mandate insurance purchases.

A core question is whether requiring people to purchase insurance has an impact on interstate commerce. Drawing a parallel to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the author concludes that just as discrimination by restaurants and other public accommodations affected interstate commerce, so too would the "non-action" of individuals not purchasing health insurance and therefore raising costs for everyone.

"Congress has determined that those who forgo the purchase of insurance will indeed affect commerce across state lines," said Deville.  "The PPACA should be accepted by the Supreme Court as a legitimate exercise of congressional power to regulate commerce."

Detractors have also pointed out that the tax proposed for individuals who do not purchase insurance improperly penalizes these individuals for inaction. Those in favor point out that there is precedent for taxing inaction. For example, individuals who do not file or pay income taxes in a timely manner are penalized.

"Congress has the authority to tax individuals to promote the general welfare, and the goals of the PPACA - improving health, expanding access to insurance, controlling medical costs and enhancing U.S. workforce productivity - are all contributions to the general welfare," said Deville.

About the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice is a bi-monthly peer-reviewed publication guided by a multidisciplinary editorial board. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice publishes in a wide range of population health topics. Recognized as the leading practice-based public health journal, the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice has recently published focus issues defining the public health workforce, performance management and bridging the research to practice gap.

About Wolters Kluwer Health

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SOURCE Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins