242023 Can Congress Make You Buy Broccoli; and Why This Question Matters

Monday, October 31, 2011: 5:10 PM

George Annas, JD, MPH , Dept of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
The continuing uncertainty over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as demonstrated by conflicting trial court rulings and scholarly commentaries, begs the question of why deciding whether the "individual mandate" is constitutional is so difficult. I will summarize all of the court decisions to date on this issue (there is likely to be at least one, and possibly two US Court of Appeals decisions on the ACA by the time of the meeting)to: (1) identify the central and likely outcome-determinative issue that the US Supreme Court will have to rule on when the ACA gets to them; and (2) suggest the strongest argument(s)the Court could use to uphold the constitutionality of the ACA's individual mandate. It will also be helpful to understand the relevance of past US Supreme Court decisions ruling that there is "no federal police power," and Commerce Clause jurisprudence should not be expanded to create one.

Learning Areas:
Provision of health care to the public

Learning Objectives:
Explain the limits of federal power under the Commerce Clause. Differentiate the Commerce Clause power from the Police Power.

Keywords: Federal Policy, Politics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an expert on US Constitutional law with special application to health law.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.