The legislative remedy to Obamacare: Principles or politics?
By Richard E. Ralston
Long ago, Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense, "We have it in our power to begin the world anew." In that spirit the time has now come for Congress to throw out government medical policy and start over.
We can at least take comfort that the U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act's insurance mandate--as a tax--suggests some limits on the judicial trend to use the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution to regulate every aspect of our lives. If we lift a finger, or decide not to lift a finger, there is a chance that Congress will not try to regulate our fingers under the commerce clause.
Alas, Congress is still allowed to tax fingers. Congress can now tax everything. It can apparently even tax nothing, as when an individual refrains from buying health insurance.
Moreover, it is difficult to understand the pretension that Medicaid will cover tens of millions of additional people, while the court said states are not required to fund that expansion.
In any case, it is clear that only a legislative remedy can rescue American medicine from Obamacare.
The future of our health care requires a new direction, with our unique American values as the foundation. We do not need political intrigue, but the right political principles. We do not need a Machiavelli, but a Jefferson. We do not need the values represented by the medical systems of all the other nations in the world. We need the exceptional American values which once made possible the best and most accessible medical care in the world.
We must vigorously reject the notion that government can or should be the source of medical care. We must recognize the worst consequence of such an idea: that a government which pays for health care decides what health care is.
As Americans, our survival--our freedom--requires the complete destruction of the policy that no treatment or healing of patients is permitted without government approval.
We must seize individual responsibility and reassert our right to seek out and choose the best and most affordable medical care we can find.
That is the only principle that will constrain politicians of all parties from "reforming" health care on the only principle that most of them care about-- political advantage. The very idea of reform must be redeemed from the political spoils system and the pervasive journalistic and academic corruption of the concept. Those wielding power over medical care and everything else want reform to mean only one thing: more. More government boards and agencies, more spending, more taxes, more regulations, more pay-offs to political clients.
We can only make progress toward a free medical system if we reverse that. Reform in medical care can be most simply understood as that which all levels of government must stop doing.
Medical policy cannot be determined by the courts. Decades of expanding government power were made possible by millions of words in non-substantive, lengthy, dense and incomprehensible legislation. Real reform requires a legislative remedy in Congress and 50 state legislatures.
The struggle to return freedom to patients, physicians and the practice of medicine will take years. It will require hard work and the clear articulation of individualism as the moral basis for health care reform and the political principle to guide us over the course of many elections.
We must begin now.
Richard E. Ralston is the executive director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, Newport Beach, California. Copyright © 2012 Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. All rights reserved.