Senator Ben Nelson said last Wednesday, December 23, that the constitutional authority of Congress to mandate individuals to buy health insurance probably originates from the same constitutional power that granted certain states authority to require drivers to carry car insurance policies.
The statement made by Sen. Nelson came as a reaction to a much talked about Senate health care reform bills that will mandate all citizens in the US to buy health insurance, and non-compliance to this legislative act can result to imprisonment or being subject to paying a penalty. It was also during December 23 that Republican Senators forced a vote to decide on whether the provision allowing the insurance reform bill is within context of the constitution. Unfortunately, the vote saying that this reform is constitutional lost, 60-39.
When asked which part in the US Constitution mentions that Congress has the power to set forth a mandate on each individual to buy insurance, Sen. Nelson answered that it was mentioned in the same page where it gives states an authority to require compulsory car liability insurance. When asked a follow-up question as to whether legislation can still mandate a person to purchase auto insurance even if he does not own a vehicle, Nelson said that the state probably may not be able to, but the Senator still makes a remark stressing importance of carrying liability insurance as a form of protection for uncertain circumstances.
According to further reports, mentioning of auto insurance as a way to justify the health care reform bill has raised concerns that perhaps it is about time for this legislation to enact laws that will mandate all car owners to also own auto policies. From the statements of Senator themselves, car insurance is not the same as health insurance and that if owning auto policies can be mandated, the same thing cannot be said for health insurance.
Moreover, experts predict that after this issue on the health care bill, the next big news to hit the insurance industry is a nationwide mandate on owning car insurance. Many insurance analysts say that legislators are simply taking a few steps at a time, guaranteeing first the health of Americans and safety of car owners second.
Local groups from states that require all drivers to own auto policies side with Sen. Nelson and said that the government is only thinking of the general welfare of citizens. According to a few local motorists groups, all forms of insurance should be required, as long as it does not exploit citizens and be motivated by profits earned by insurers.