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Checks and Balances in Health Care Reform, Essay Example

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Essay

The first three articles of the United States Constitution effectively discuss the powers of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.  A critical component to these powers is the ability for the government to have a built-in checks and balances system in which no law or action by one branch of government is allowed to be conducted without approval of another branch.   Throughout history, this element of government has been utilized to reduce the errors of government that may result from one branch of government having too much power.  In modern times, very few people realize that this checks and balances system is being used on a daily basis.  However, by carefully analyzing the most recent health care reform bill and the process that was used to create and pass the bill, the checks and balances system can clearly be illustrated in today’s society.

The most important aspect of checks and balances surrounds the powers that each branch of government has been given.  Almost everyone learns at an early age that the legislative branch creates the laws; the executive branch enforces the laws; and the judicial branch interprets the laws.  However, each of these powers plays a critical role in the health care reform bill.  The bill was introduced as a key issue during the 2008 Presidential Election by Hilary Clinton, and then later became a large issue of Barack Obama’s campaign.  In early 2009, President Obama stated that the health care reform bill should be a top priority for the American people and the several legislative committees began to brainstorm and create several drafts of a proposed bill (Reich, 2010).  The legislative branch is a bicameral legislature in the United States, which means that both the House of Representatives and Senate have creative and voting powers.  This is the only branch that can actually check and balance itself through having two different houses in the legislature.  In order for the bill to be passed, it needed to pass through the committees.  Then the bill must be passed through each individual house.  On March 21, 2010 the final draft of the bill was voted on in the Senate and passed by a majority decision.

After several drafts, both houses finally agreed on one final draft that would be proposed to the executive branch, or the President, for a final approval or veto.  This power is given to the President of the United States through Article 2 of the Constitution and allows the President to make a final decision on the bill (Mount, 2010).  In this case, President Obama agreed with the approved draft from Congress and signed the bill into law.  If there had been a reason not to sign the bill, it would have been vetoed by the President and then sent back to Congress.  Congress could then vote on the bill one more time and agree to push the bill into a law with a two-thirds majority vote.  The health care bill did not require this aspect of the checks and balances system; therefore, the entire process provided for a successful display of how these powers work together.

Although the branches may work together, the judicial branch plays a critical role that is beginning to gain recognition in the federal news.  As of April 5, 2010, 15 different states around the country have come together to take this bill and essentially the entire federal government to court (Sessions, 2010).  Indiana became the 15th state to sign on to the case.  The case was originally created by Florida attorney general Bill McCollum who is was the first individual to file the claim that the health care reform bill violates the states’ constitutional rates pertaining to the commerce section of the U.S. Constitution (Sessions, 2010).  The goal of this case is not meant to challenge the bill per se; instead, it is meant to challenge whether the federal government has imposed a mandate on states and individuals where it does not have the power to do so.  In this scenario, the judicial branch must now interpret the laws and the U.S. Constitution to determine if the health care reform bill is both constitutional and if the federal government has the right to enforce such a bill on the states.  This is a clear example of how all three branches effectively create the checks and balances system.

Based on the first three articles of the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has effectively utilized the checks and balances system to create, pass and evaluate the legitimacy of the health care reform bill.  This is an example of how the government can effectively monitor itself and provide the best legislative laws with as few errors as possible.  All of these steps have been completed while eliminating any abuse of power from the process and ensuring that the best interests of the American people are always the top priority.  Regardless of anyone’s personal opinion on the health care bill, it is clear that the three branches of government have worked together to effectively utilize each constitutional power properly.  The checks and balances system is not simply a theoretical framework created by the founding fathers; instead, it is a working concept that can still be seen today in the modern laws and political process.

References

Mount, S. (2010, January 24). Constitutional topic: checks and balances. Retrieved from http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_cnb.html

Reich, R. (2010, March 22). New health care bill: biggest change since medicare? [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.csmonitor.com/Money/Robert-Reich-s-Blog/2010/0322/New-health-care-bill-Biggest-change-since-Medicare

Sessions, D. (2010, April 05). Indiana joins legal challenge to health care law. Politics Daily, Retrieved from http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/04/05/indiana-joins-constitutional-challenge-to-health-care-law/

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