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The State and the Individual - Essay Example

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The recent passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act created legal issues about whether the Federal government has the power to make it mandatory for individuals to buy healthcare insurance and whether states can opt out or nullify such provisions. The Constitution of the USA does not provide citizens with an explicit right to healthcare. The Supreme Court has held that as per the Constitution, individuals can seek healthcare services at their own cost from the available service providers. (Swendiman, 2010, p.2). It has also held that there is no provision that guarantees government health care for those that cannot afford it. At the same time, many states in the US have constitutional state provisions relative to providing healthcare services to citizens. As compared to the Federal government, the constitutions of states have more expansive provisions relative to health care because federal rights require states to comply with minimum standards (Bayer, 2007, p.1). The issue that arises in this regard is the extent to which states can legally restrain the freedom of individuals in serving the common good of the entire population. In addition, the question arises about the extent to which public welfare can be protected in justifying government actions relative to curtailing or eroding fundamental rights. Such issues form the basis of controversy and long drawn debates relative to public health in the US. The Supreme Court has described inter-state commerce as being amongst economic activities that impact the country’s economy. Given that the health care sector impacts the country’s economy, it becomes implied from this argument that the federal government has the right to control health care through legislation. Although the US Supreme Court and Constitution do not acknowledge the constitutional right to healthcare for people unable to afford it, a number of statutes have been enacted by the Federal government, such as the Children’s Health Program, Medicaid and Medicare, which describe and establish the precise rights of individuals relative to receiving healthcare services from the state. A major element of several healthcare entitlements from the government is the funding for healthcare facilities that are provided under the law. Majority of these provisions were enacted following recognition of the Federal government’s authority to enact laws that are necessary for carrying out its authorization for providing towards the general welfare of individuals. This authority to spend on healthcare is considered to be a broad grant of authority vested to the Federal government by the country’s Constitution. The Supreme Court gives significant regard to the legislative decisions taken by the Congress for making provisions for healthcare budgets in keeping with the objectives of public welfare (Garrett, 2000, p.216). However, there are a number of tensions about the scope of public health and the extent to which it can be accepted, especially in terms of the original issues relative to fighting infectious diseases during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The issue attained more significance at the end of the 20th century because of efforts to resolve the chronic patterns that ...Show more


The State and the Individual (14.03.12) In the continuing debate over the rights of majorities and minorities and the power of the state and power of the individual, there are several issues at stake. This paper examines the right of the individual and the power of the state as it relates to health care policy and then discusses the views of Machiavelli and Locke on how the two philosophers perceived the power of the majority, minority, the state, and the individual and how such concepts are applicable to the issue of healthcare…
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The State and the Individual essay example
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