Republicans have a lot of reasons why the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, even if most of them don’t hold water. That means, every now and then, opponents of the law have to trot out theories that have already been ruled meritless.
Rep. Steve King did just that in a town hall meeting in Le Mars, Iowa on Monday. King, who opposes even some of the most popular provisions of the law, claimed that its requirement for all Americans to obtain insurance is unconstitutional because some Americans never, ever pay for health care:
Most advocates for Obamacare are arguing that, whether or not you have health insurance, you’re engaging in interstate commerce, because sooner or later, whether you actually go to the doctor or not, somebody’s gonna haul you to the emergency room and then somebody else is going to have to pay for it. So that’s the argument that compels you to buy insurance? I’d say that doesn’t fit the interstate commerce definition that I know. And that argument came before the Supreme Court.
What i’ve said is that, in every decade, in every state, there have always been babies that were born, lived, and died, and some of them a long and healthy life, without ever using a dollar worth [sic] of health care expenditures. That would mean that they didn’t engage in interstate commerce with regard to health care.
King has made this argument before to attack the health care law, and it has been rejected. In an opinion upholding the law, conservative Sixth Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote, “Even dramatic attempts to protect one’s health and minimize the need for health care will not always be successful, and the health care market is characterized by unpredictable and unavoidable needs for care. The ubiquity and unpredictability of the need for medical care is born out by the statistics. More than eighty percent of adults nationwide visited a doctor or other health care professional one or more times in 2009.”