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J Public Health Manag Pract. 2011 May-Jun;17(3):195-201. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e318215c50b.

Public health law: the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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  • 1Department of Bioethics & Interdisciplinary Studies, Adjunct Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, Greenville, North Carolina 27834, USA.


Congress of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was immediately challenged by lawsuits attacking the constitutionality of the legislation. The lawsuits, joined by over 2 dozen state's attorney generals, contend that PPACA is an unconstitutional exercise of federal power. Specifically, the suits argue that the individual insurance mandate portion of the law is justified by neither the "Commerce Power" nor Congress' authority to "tax" and provide for "the general welfare." This essay outlines and analyzes the constitutional arguments for, and against, PPACA forecasting the likely resolution of the debate if the suits reach the US Supreme Court.

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