H. R. 3200 and similar legislation, if enacted into law, will very likely be declared unconstitutional.
Simply stated, legislation of this type amounts to Congress establishing the Federal government as a national health insurance regulator; an authority nowhere granted to Congress by the Constitution.
That said, it does not mean Congress has no role to play in the current health insurance reform debate.
Currently, purchase of health insurance is subject to anti-competitive barriers erected by the several in states; such purchases being limited to those policies licensed within the purchaser’s state by that state’s insurance commissioner. No other policy may be sold in any given state.
It is here that Congress has a role to play. And, it is simple and straightforward: The framers of the Constitution intended for Congress to eliminate trade barriers between the states when they wrote Article I, Section 8; the ‘commerce’ clause. And, the restrictions on which policy may be sold in any given state meets that criteria.
So, Congress should scrap H. R. 3200 and instead enact legislation that will prevent states from using licensing laws as barrier to out-of-state insurers. Simple, straightforward and, most importantly, constitutional.
Update: HR 3200 has been replaced by HR 3269 introduced 10/29/2009. It is made of the same stuff as the former bill except it now consumes four reams of paper.