Fight for Health Care Reform to Continue Into 2012
The fight to implement health care reform is in for a fight into at least 2012 after a federal district judge in Richmond, Va. ruled against one provision of the law on Monday. The Justice Department plans to appeal the decision, which states Congress lacks the authority to compel individuals to carry health coverage. This means it will likely reach the Supreme Court sometime before the presidential election.
The New Challenge to Health Care Reform
This challenge to the health care reform law is nothing new for the government. Within minutes of signing reform into law, 14 states sued, calling the law unconstitutional as the newest judge cited on Monday.
Many state attorney generals and governors simply don’t like the idea of forcing residents to purchase health insurance. This is because, while the Constitution does limit federal power to specific areas–and the Commerce Clause allows Congress to expand their right to power in more areas like racial discrimination in hotels and restaurants–it hasn’t branched very far passed that.
So by enforcing a mandate to carry health insurance or pay a penalty, challengers believe Congress is indeed attempting to expand the commerce power even further. Worse, it wants the power to encompass the refusal to buy a product (health insurance), which challengers believe is going too far.
Can the Government Force Good Health?
So then the question becomes, can the government force the country to get healthy? Of course, we all know that the issue is much deeper than this question presumes. Purchasing health insurance is not only about ensuring good health, especially if health care costs are too high for the insurance to really buy good health. It’s also about driving down costs in emergency rooms and also ensuring the health insurance companies are not driven out of business.
With the matter so complicated, it’s easy to see why there’s so much disagreement. Some feel that, just like with auto insurance, if a person doesn’t purchase the mandated liability coverage, don’t make them pay a penalty up front–just let them get a ticket or pay out of pocket expenses for the accident when caught.
However, since medical facilities are unable to turn down patients and must cover the costs on their own if a patient can’t pay, the idea of forced coverage almost seems more reasonable.
It’s hard to say what the end result will be of the numerous fights against health care reform since each side seems to have a valid point. We can only hope that in the meantime, we don’t lose some of the benefits that we’ve already gained.