Beautiful or ugly we’re all in this together – or not

October 19, 2009

The massive overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system backed by President Barack Obama could face a court challenge if it is ever enacted into law.

Republican Senator Charles Grassley, speaking at the Reuters Washington Summit, said a number of people, including Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, have questioned whether it is constitutional for the government to require U.S. citizens and residents to purchase a product offered by private, for-profit companies.

WASHINGTON-SUMMIT/The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce.

But many conservatives believe that clause does not allow Congress to require U.S. residents to purchase a good or service.

Healthcare reform legislation would require U.S. citizens and residents to purchase healthcare insurance, with the federal government providing subsidies to help low and moderate income people afford it.

Grassley said he thought the mandate – which is something health insurers have insisted on in exchange for dropping many industry practices such as excluding coverage for preexisting conditions – would face a court challenge.

But Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus disagreed. He said the mandate was constitutional and that all Americans share a “moral” responsibility in making sure the U.S. health system works.

“Some Americans are rich, some are poor, some are beautiful, some are ugly, some are tall, some are short, some are fat, some are skinny — when it comes to healthcare reform, everybody is the same,” Baucus told reporters on a telephone conference call. “Illness does not care if you are old or young or beautiful or ugly or whatnot. We are all in this together as Americans.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credits: Above: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst. (Grassley at Reuters summit); Blog thumbnail: Reuters/Jason Reed. (Baucus smiles after Finance Committee approves healthcare reform bill)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Massachusetts has a mandatory insurance policy, enacted by a republican, any MA residents out there who would like to share with the class?

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

Grassley = ignore

Posted by Cray | Report as abusive