Health care bill may be unconstitutional

John Mercer

According to the Congressional Budget Office, between Medicaid, Medicare, employee sponsored health plans and privately purchased health insurance, almost 80 percent of Americans were covered by some sort of health insurance at the beginning of 2010. You would never believe it with the way the current Congress and presidential administration talk. Listening to the news, one would surmise that Americans have a very hard time receiving health care via our current systems.

The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” signed by President Obama last March, is monumental. Just ask Vice President Joe Biden; he will tell you. This bill should be commended for all the quality ideals it fulfills. Bringing health insurance to the chronically ill and those with pre-existing conditions is noble. Insuring Americans who otherwise would not have access to affordable health care is equally commendable. The problem I see is that these noble deeds are overshadowed by an unconstitutional federal requirement for private citizens to purchase insurance or be penalized.

The 10th Amendment declares, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nowhere that I’m aware of in the Constitution does it explicitly imply that a free, private citizen should be mandated to purchase a product or service they don’t want. Yet the Health Care Reform Act requires certain income earners to purchase private health insurance or face being fined by the IRS. If the federal government had used the same logic during their bailout of the Auto Industry and takeover of General Motors, as they do here with the takeover of the Health Care Industry, then Americans could be forced to purchase a Chevy Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), or face a monetary penalty. Regardless of whether you want a Chevy SUV, or need one, the federal government says you need to buy one or they will fine you. Neither Congress nor the president has any right to mandate private citizens to purchase health insurance if they don’t want it. This provision of law is a travesty and completely detracts from the core values of the Constitution.

This requirement punishes successful Americans while encouraging others to allow government institutions to provide for their welfare. Policies of this nature simply encourage a lack of individual accountability. The dependence on government assistance is extraordinary; in 2008, over 50 million Americans received nearly $614 billion in government assistance. I can see why so many people are inclined to utilize these programs. Americans are presented with a clear choice. Work hard, become successful and reap the benefits via a good job with perks like health insurance, or sign up for welfare and receive the same benefits without ever lifting a finger.  If I am faced with a fine for not purchasing private health insurance, I will quit my job and sign up for welfare. Then I can receive free health care along with free housing and food.

Proponents of this reform cite the fact that America is the only industrialized nation in the world without universal health care.  I hear examples of how these programs have had varying degrees of success in Canada, Germany and France. But people seem to forget that America didn’t become a world leader by following suit. Our federal government wasn’t modeled after the large central role of European nations. America was founded on the ideals of state and private citizens’ rights. Thusly, decisions like health coverage should be left to the states and to the citizens. If a private citizen wants health insurance, let them work hard to obtain it on their own accord. I feel like the government is punishing the successful by charging them extra while giving others a free pass through welfare. America is the land of opportunity, and every citizen is given the same opportunities to become successful. Opportunity doesn’t equal results. Some people will be successful and some people won’t. But punishing the successful and rewarding the unsuccessful with the fruits of their labor is no way to run a country, at least not in America.