The South Carolina Legislature has passed a bill entitled the “South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act" (Bill 3101), which criminalizes the implementation of any part of Obamacare the state deems “unconstitutional”.
South Carolina has taken the position that the federal government does not have the power to require Americans to have health insurance. This is based on the argument that the federal government receives its power from the States, and the powers given it are limited to the seventeen powers enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare on June 28, 2012, stating its requirement that most Americans acquire health insurance or pay a penalty is authorized by Congress’s power to assess taxes. The federal government had argued before the Supreme Court that Congress can require everyone to comply with the Individual Mandate to buy health insurance. It also argued that Congress had the right to do so by using its power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court rejected that argument, but agreed with another argument made by the federal government: Congress has the constitutional power to require people who do not have health insurance to pay a tax. Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the Constitution gives the federal government its power of taxation, and is known as the Taxing and Spending Clause. This power, one of the seventeen in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, is known as an “expressed power”. However, the powers in Article I, Section 8, also include “implied powers” for the federal government. These implied powers, which are implied through broad interpretation of delegated powers, empower Congress “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers.” For an excellent, easy to read explanation of the Supreme Court decision, go to SCOTUSblog. As a result of the foregoing decision, a “shared responsibility payment” is expected to go into effect for not having health insurance -for those required to pay a penalty(in a later article we will discuss who is exempt from paying) - $95 in 2014 and $325 in 2015, and the amount a person would pay in 2016 will be either 2.5 percent of your income or $695 – whichever is greater. The bill specifically addresses the Supreme Court’s decision to make Obamacare the law of the land:
The individuals prohibited from “enforcing or attempting to enforce” Obamacare are South Carolina state employees and agents of the state. The South Carolina Attorney General has the power to bring action against any “person or entity causing the harm to restrain by temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or permanent injunction” by implementation of Obamacare:
South Carolina has also instituted Obamacare tax deductions on a dollar-for-dollar basis. This means South Carolinians liable to pay a penalty for not having health insurance will receive a state tax deduction in the same amount. Bill 3101 prohibits the use of Obamacare Health Exchanges, voids any insurance contracts purchased through an exchange:
(B) Neither South Carolina nor a political subdivision including, but not limited to, counties, municipalities, or special purpose districts of the State may establish a Health Care Exchange for the purchase of health insurance
(C) Neither South Carolina nor a political subdivision including, but not limited to, counties, municipalities, or special purpose districts, may participate in or purchase insurance from a health care exchange established by a nonprofit organization.
(D) A health insurance contract purchased or established in violation of this section is void and must not be enforced by the courts of this State."
So, what does all this mean for South Carolina citizens? Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 20% do not have health insurance. South Carolina has a population of 4,679,230 people, approximately 935,846 people do not, and if this current action continues, will not have health insurance through Obamacare. Check back regularly for updates on Obamacare, the U.S. government health insurance.