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Jail time for noncompliance with health care mandate?

By Scott Tibbs, November 24, 2009

There has been a lot of discussion about a provision in the health care "reform" package passed by the House that would allegedly provide criminal penalties including jail time for not complying with the government's mandate to purchase health insurance. Baron Hill, of course, voted for the "reform" package.

It turns out that is not completely accurate. Health acre "reform" does include a fine those who choose not to purchase health care reform as mandated by the federal government. If you refuse to purchase insurance and then do not pay the penalty for that choice, you could face jail time for that decision. See the explanation by the House Ways and Means Committee and ABC News.

Basically, Baron Hill voted to send you to jail if you refuse to comply with the government's health insurance mandate. This is a horrible example of overreach by government. Exactly where in the Constitution is the federal government given the authority to mandate that individual citizens purchase anything? After all, the Tenth Amendment clearly states that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Did the constitutionality of health care "reform" factor into Baron Hill's vote?

This underscores the fundamental problem with the health care "reform" proposals that are being considered by Congress. If this was about providing health insurance for everyone who needs it, why do we need such a massive piece of legislation that regulates the nation's health care system in painstaking detail? Why not simply expand Medicare or Medicaid (or both) to provide health care to those who need it and then work out a way to pay for it, without all of the other mandates and regulations? Why go to the radical, excessively authoritarian extreme of mandating jail time for those who refuse to comply with the government's health insurance mandate?

The answer is that this is not and has never been about providing health insurance to those who need it. This is about giving government control over a huge percentage of the American economy. This is about regulating the lives of American citizens who Democrats like Baron Hill think are too stupid to manage our own lives without the guidance and wisdom of 535 legislators in one city on the East Coast.

Does any serious person think that this is not a foot in the door to government regulation of our lives? After all, we have already had a number of proposals for increased taxes on fat and sugar, because of the burden unhealthy diets place on our health care system. If society as a whole is paying for your health care, does not society have the right to use the force of law to mandate that you live a healthy lifestyle so you do not become an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers? That is already the rationale proponents of seat belt laws use to regulate your choices on the road.

Reasonable people can debate the merits of health care "reform" and what path we should take in resolving some of the problems we have in our health care system. In a nation where we already incarcerate 7.3 million people, why would Democrats like Baron Hill vote to put you in jail for refusing to comply with the federal government's health insurance mandate? That is an unnecessary and excessively authoritarian solution that should have been emphatically rejected before it ever appeared in the earliest drafts of health care "reform" legislation.