The House Health Committee approved legislation that would block fines or penalties against those who refuse to participate in the federal health care act approved by Congress last March. Sponsor of the bill, David Maloney, R-Berks, said the measure, HB 42, is not an attempt to overturn the federal law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act.
“This simply says that the federal government has no right to force people into a health care plan if they choose not to do it,” Maloney said. “A Florida judge and other state legislatures have already said the same thing.”
On January 31, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled the Obama Administration's health care unconstitutional saying that the government was reaching beyond its power by requiring citizens to buy health insurance.
In addition, 41 other state legislatures have measures similar to Maloney’s pending. Another six have approved such measures.
The federal law requires participation in the system by 2014 or penalties are applied. The uninsured will be fined either $95 or 1 percent of annual income, whichever is greater. In 2015, the penalties will increase to either $325 or 2 percent of annual income. In 2016 and beyond, the penalty is $695 or 2.5 percent of annual income.
Maloney says the issue is whether the government is reaching beyond its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution through an individual mandate that seeks to regulate economic activity.
“Federal Judge Vinson found the Federal Health Care Law unconstitutional because economic activity is required under the Commerce Clause and the individual mandate to purchase health insurance cannot otherwise be authorized by an assertion of power,” Maloney said.
The House is expected to take the bill up quickly.