By Ashley Lopez
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, has proposed a constitutional amendment that would invalidate the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
It was just a year ago that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 2010 health reform law, including the individual mandate requiring that certain people purchase private health insurance.
Even though the Supreme Court justices ruled the individual mandate was constitutional, the GOP-led battle against the law — and this specific provision — continues.
The text of the “Right To Refuse” amendment, according to Rubio’s office: “Congress shall make no law that imposes a tax on a failure to purchase goods or services.”
“ObamaCare is a disastrous policy that is not only destructive to job creation, it will also unleash the corrupt and scandal-ridden IRS on taxpayers simply for not buying health insurance,” Rubio said in a statement.
He invoked the Internal Revenue Scandal two more times in his press release, timed as Congress was set to hold another hearing into its improper targeting of conservative groups.
“We should put our faith in the American people to decide what goods and services they want to buy, not have Congress dictate it and have the IRS empowered to harass Americans to make sure they do it,” he said. “Let’s do everything we can to keep the IRS out of our health care and stop future congresses from forcing private citizens to spend their hard-earned money on products or services Washington is forcing on them.”
The Tampa Bay Times reports that the amendment “has no chance of passing Congress but Republicans are making a renewed effort to stir public opposition.”
The individual mandate was among the most criticized aspects of the Affordable Care Act. The GOP made this provision among its loudest complaints about the law, even though the provision was first touted years ago by right-wing think tanks.
The mandate made its political début in a 1989 Heritage Foundation brief titled “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans,” as a counterpoint to the single-payer system and the employer mandate, which were favored in Democratic circles. In the brief, Stuart Butler, the foundation’s health-care expert, argued, “Many states now require passengers in automobiles to wear seat-belts for their own protection. Many others require anybody driving a car to have liability insurance. But neither the federal government nor any state requires all households to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of a serious accident or illness. Under the Heritage plan, there would be such a requirement.” The mandate made its first legislative appearance in 1993, in the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act—the Republicans’ alternative to President Clinton’s health-reform bill—which was sponsored by John Chafee, of Rhode Island, and co-sponsored by eighteen Republicans, including Bob Dole, who was then the Senate Minority Leader.
Republicans also took issue with a provision that required states to expand Medicaid to more people. While the Supreme Court ruled that states can decide whether or not to expand Medicaid, the federal government is still allowed to require people who can afford private health insurance to buy a policy.
Companion legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. House.