Trading freedom for health care

Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are hers and not those of St. George News.

OPINION – Nearly 50 million Americans lack health insurance. When they go to hospitals, the costs are borne by the taxpayers and also borne by those Americans that do pay for the high cost of health insurance due to the non-purchasers. Yet, there has to be a different way to compel people to purchase health insurance. President Obama has argued that the only way to prevent these problems is to bring everyone into the system, guaranteeing coverage for all.  Critics, however, say the “government mandate” to buy insurance goes too far. It crosses a line.

Should the government be involved in health care at all? Did our founding fathers envision a nation where the government stepped into our health care issues?

On March 26, 2012, the Supreme Court started to hear challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, nicknamed Obamacare by its opponents. The Supreme Court will consider its constitutionality two years after the Act’s passing.  Three out of four Americans want Obamacare tossed out by the courts, according to the latest polls. The main arguments will be in reference to the Commerce Clause and the 1867 Anti-Injunction Act- which could impede the progress of Obamacare.

Does the Commerce Clause have any limits? The Commerce Clause is an enumerated power listed in the United States Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3). The clause states that the United States Congress shall have power “[t]o regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

If the federal government can compel a private citizen, under threat of penalty, to engage in doing business with a private company to buy health insurance, is there anything the federal government cannot compel us to do? Using the Commerce Clause to sustain the viability of Obamacare can open the gateway to allowing many other things to be regulated through interstate commerce as well. The Commerce Clause was originally meant to keep nonimporting states from being taxed like the importing states were, not to expand the role of the federal government.

Obamacare is just the beginning. Will the government be able to mandate physical fitness? Could we be forced to join a gym to maintain optimal health or face fines? Will our small business employers be mandated to furnish exercise equipment?  Will we be fined someday for weighing too much because of the health risks that it possesses? I could go on and on with the possibilities of how far the government may go if allowed or so empowered – all in the name of protecting their bottom line once the cost of this health care gets astronomical.

There are many people who think this new mandate will change the face of the American “social contract.” Does it really? Didn’t it change when we realized that we can be forced to go to war or face criminal penalties? Obamacare is just another rung on the ladder of more and more mandates dictated to us by the federal government. Why are we so shocked that the government has opted to place itself in power of our health care? Good, limited government was never intended to get into health care. Good limited government should be just that: limited. Did I mention that this government-mandated health care has already cost us more than $1.76 trillion?

The 1867 federal law called the Anti-Injunction Act states that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person.” In other words, people who object to taxes must pay first and litigate later.

Yet, the first penalties under the Presdient’s health care plan do not kick in until 2014, and they must be paid on federal tax returns by April 2015. That means that the appeals court judges have said that federal courts are forbidden, for now, to hear challenges to the health care law. Isn’t it interesting, that the penalties that will result from not purchasing this insurance will kick in only AFTER President Obama may be re-elected?

Do we want an already inept government mandating cost, provisions and the rules of our personal health care? Whenever the government gets involved, issues or programs seem to become hugely expansive, rigid, and punitive. The free market could keep health care competitive, flexible and elective. The freedom of choice should mean everything to us as Americans.

Shouldn’t the free market come up with the answer to our health care crisis?

Here is one solution that may be a solution for other cities too: We have a Doctors Volunteer Clinic in St. George. This organization runs solely off of donations and enlists the help of doctors and nurses, some retired, to give medical care to those in need in our community who cannot afford insurance or health care. Patrons pay a $5 donation and can receive medical, dental and mental health help. It costs about $150,000 to run this clinic for a year. Volunteer office staff run the day-to-day operations and the facility was built on donations, even down to the donated land. If every community had this type of service, would we need Obamacare at all?

I pay for health insurance for my family and am willing to pay for it because it will protect me, not because I am forced to. Yes, it is a sacrifice and it is expensive. Yet, I want to be covered so that I do not incur horrendous medical bills and lose everything that I own in the event of a major medical emergency. I realize that some people simply cannot afford it. The burden is borne on the backs of those that pay, but there needs to be better solutions than forced health care.

The penalty certainly looks like a tax: It is calculated based on a person’s income and collected by the Internal Revenue Service. Just because the penalty is “being collected in the same manner of a tax doesn’t automatically mean it’s a tax,” said Justice Stephen G. Breyer on Monday in the pending proceeding. Well, this penalty will be taken out of your paycheck just like taxes.  If it walks like a tax, and quacks like a tax, it’s most definitely a tax. They can call it a penalty but it seems like more taxes to me. In fact, this “penalty/tax” will cost us $695 a year and $2,085 maximum for a family-per-year if you do not purchase health insurance.

On January 19, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 245-189 to repeal Obamacare. Repealing it would eliminate $770 billion in the newly mandated tax increases. On February 2, 2011, the U.S. Senate casted its vote and the proposed repeal failed 51-47.

Now 26 states are asking the high court to declare the individual mandates and forced buy unconstitutional.

The Court is allowing a total of six hours of oral arguments on several issues in three cases that it has agreed to consider. This time allotment is historic and a far cry from the one total hour usually allotted to cases it accepts.  This must speak to the importance of this issue.

Let’s hope the Justices agree, Obamacare must go.

Mandates will never keep America free.   In a 2008 interview with CNN regarding the abuse of using a mandate, President Obama said: “If a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house.” Just one year later he instigated mandate as part of Obamacare.

If we allow government to invade the personal aspects of our lives, we should absolutely expect that it will come to the conclusion that force is an acceptable measure by which to do it.

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Copyright 2012 St. George News.†


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  • ron March 28, 2012 at 6:02 am

    The “slippery slope” argument was identified as a logical fallacy by Aristotle. You can apply it to just about everything the government does or any law that is passed. That said, the health care issue is a complex one fraught with problems. Consider this, however. We object to people who refuse to work because they know they will be taken care of through the welfare system. Shouldn’t we also be objecting to people who refuse to provide for their health care needs–either by buying insurance or by being rich enough to pay–because they know they will be taken care of in the emergency room? We need to be very cautious about allowing government to impose requirements on us, but we shouldn’t be paranoid about it.

  • rrhamilton March 28, 2012 at 8:48 am

    You say that the term “ObamaCare” was coined by the law’s opponents. This is incorrect. It was coined originally by the law’s supporters — because they thought it would be popular.

    When you think about it, Obama had little to do with the healthcare law. He just signed what Harry and Nancy slid under his nose. That’s why I call it “DemocratCare” — because the whole party deserves “credit” for it.

  • Glenn Kirkpatrick March 28, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Yes, Aristotle has a point about the “slippery slope” argument, but I disagree with your assessment that opposition to Obamacare is “paranoia”. For the federal government to force citizens to buy a product stands as a gross overreach into our personal freedoms. Perhaps you could personally identify with Parisians in WWII who did not protest the German invasion until the influx of occupying soldiers robbed them of their favorite cafe table on the Champs Elysees.

  • Mike March 30, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Obama tried and is still trying to do the right thing. Get Romney in there and see what a disaster this country turns in to. Health care should be a top issue.

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