Can the government make Americans carry health insurance? The Supreme Court takes up the constitutional question at the heart of President Barack Obama's health care law Tuesday.
The Obama administration argues:
_ Mandating that nearly everyone has insurance or pays a penalty falls under the federal government's powers to regulate interstate commerce and collect taxes.
_ The law fixes a crisis in the health care system, which makes up nearly 18 percent of the national economy.
_ Without additional money from healthy people that the insurance mandate would bring in, insurers couldn't reasonably be required to cover everyone, including those who are already sick, at affordable rates.
The law's challengers argue:
_ The health care law is an unconstitutional, unprecedented federal power grab that intrudes on people's liberty.
_ The law doesn't regulate commerce but instead compels people to buy something _ health insurance _ whether they use it or not.
_ The penalty for not buying insurance isn't what the Constitution envisioned in permitting federal taxes.