Can the Federal Government Mandate Health Insurance Coverage? And Other Legal Issues in Health Reform

Studying legal challenges in health reform to assist policy-makers and other key stakeholders

In 2008 and 2009, researchers at Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law analyzed the legal issues surrounding health reform and suggested ways to structure legislation so that it complied with existing laws and the U.S. Constitution.

Georgetown University launched the O’Neill Institute in 2007 to find ways to use the law to solve pressing health policy concerns.

Key Results:

  • Produced eight papers and a summary report on the legal issues likely to arise in the congressional debate on health reform legislation—as well as possible solutions to those issues. The papers are available online. (Scroll down to “Phase 1: Project Overview and Eight Legal Issues.”) Topics included:
    • The constitutional issues in a legislative mandate, requiring that individuals and businesses purchase insurance.
    • Existing federal laws involved in setting up health insurance exchanges.
  • Created a blog, “Legal Issues in Health Reform,” to comment on news related to health reform—in both the legislative arena and the court system. The public accessed the blog 11,638 times from its launch in September 2009 until March 2010.
  • Held two symposia on the legal issues in health reform, focusing primarily on the health insurance purchase mandate and health insurance exchanges. The events attracted private attorneys and legal and policy staff from federal agencies and the U.S. Congress.

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