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Healthcare and the Bill of Rights


In March of 2010, Congress passed landmark legislation including major reforms to the U.S. health insurance industry and healthcare system.  This lesson plan focuses on the healthcare law from multiple constitutional perspectives. Have students use the United States ConstitutionBill of Rights, and Additional Amendments as additional resources when answering the questions below.


Healthcare reform law challenged on religious grounds, Christian Science Monitor
Religious groups can opt out of compulsory health care, WFAA

Comprehension and Critical Thinking Questions

  1. What exemptions for people who have religious objections to health insurance are included in the healthcare reform law?
  2. In your judgement, are these exemptions constitutional? Do they go far enough in allowing for religious freedom, or do they go too far? Explain.
  3. On what grounds are Thomas More Law Center and Liberty University challenging the Constitutionality of the healthcare reform law?
  4. If you were deciding this lawsuit, on what constitutional citations and/or legal precedents would you base your opinion?


Calorie counts to be required on menus nationwide, Los Angeles Times

Comprehension and Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Is the requirement that restaurants post calorie information on their menus “compelled speech” in violation of the First Amendment? Why or why not?
  2. What regulation does the healthcare law place on restaurants with more than 20 locations nationwide?

Criminal Procedure

Some may face penalty for shunning health insurance, CNN

Comprehension and Critical Thinking Questions

  1. What penalties are in place for individuals who do not buy health insurance by 2014?
  2. How would you assess the constitutionality of these penalties?

Personal Liberty

Battle over Abortion in Health Care Overhaul Moves to States, CBS News
Health care reform also touches tanning beds, restaurant menus, CNN

Comprehension and Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Why did President Obama sign an executive order on abortion and federal funding?
  2. Should insurance companies be required to cover elective abortions? Should federal money be used to pay for that coverage? Explain your answer.
  3. What are the risks and benefits of federal government involvement in matters such as restaurant menu information and tanning salon taxation?


Health reform faces state suits over insurance mandate, American Medical News
Health mandate tests the reach of government,

Comprehension and Critical Thinking Questions

  1. On what grounds have fourteen states filed suit against the federal government challenging the constitutionality of the new healthcare reform law?
  2. How has the government responded to these lawsuits thus far?
  3. The Constitution empowers the federal government to regulate interstate commerce. Does that enumerated power allow the federal to require citizens to buy health insurance? If not, why not? If so, what other types of products would the federal government be able to require citizens to buy?