This past week saw a number of people question the constitutionality of President Barack H. Obama’s plan to reform health care in the United States.1 Michael Connelly, a retired attorney and Constitutional Law instructor, wrote that the bill is “a convenient cover for the most massive transfer of power to the Executive Branch of government that has ever occurred”:
Well, I have done it! I have read the entire text of proposed House Bill 3200: The Affordable Health Care Choices Act of 2009. I studied it with particular emphasis from my area of expertise, constitutional law. I was frankly concerned that parts of the proposed law that were being discussed might be unconstitutional. What I found was far worse than what I had heard or expected.
To begin with, much of what has been said about the law and its implications is in fact true, despite what the Democrats and the media are saying. The law does provide for rationing of health care, particularly where senior citizens and other classes of citizens are involved, free health care for illegal immigrants, free abortion services, and probably forced participation in abortions by members of the medical profession.
The Bill will also eventually force private insurance companies out of business and put everyone into a government run system. All decisions about personal health care will ultimately be made by federal bureaucrats and most of them will not be health care professionals. Hospital admissions, payments to physicians, and allocations of necessary medical devices will be strictly controlled.
However, as scary as all of that is, it just scratches the surface. In fact, I have concluded that this legislation really has no intention of providing affordable health care choices. Instead it is a convenient cover for the most massive transfer of power to the Executive Branch of government that has ever occurred, or even been contemplated. If this law or a similar one is adopted, major portions of the Constitution of the United States will effectively have been destroyed.2
Similarly, Jane M. Orient’s article on Campaign for Liberty declared:
The biggest question of all is why are we even discussing the details, while begging the biggest question of all: Does Congress have the Constitutional authority to do any of the things that are proposed as “health care reform”?
Where does it get the right to outlaw existing private arrangements and contracts? To force Americans into government dependency for paying for their medical care? To set medical standards and prices for medical services? To manage one-sixth of the economy? To decide for individuals what they can afford? To delegate enormous authority over people’s lives to an executive agency to avoid political accountability?
Well, of course there’s Medicare, the big, popular precedent. As Jonathan Swift pointed out in Gulliver’s Travels, if a wrong can legally be done once, precedent assures that it can be done again.
If a one-vote, one-time democracy has the right to turn American medicine over to czars like Zeke Emanuel, then town halls might as well be an orchestrated circus to give homage to our elected nonrepresentatives.3
Whether or not the Supreme Court would strike down the constitutionality of such a bill is questionable.
Earlier, it was noted that the debate about health care reform is often couched in collectivist terms and that medical collectivists propose a “scientific discipline” is needed “to bridge the capabilities of the medical profession and the best interests of patients and society.”4
What those health care “best interests” are for patients and society remain unclear.
But one thing is clear, you likely won’t have any input into the long-term consequences of this bill in society. Someone else will make that social decision for you.
- McCullagh, Declan. “Is Mandatory Health Insurance Constitutional?” 21 Sep 2009. CBS News. 27 Sep 2009.↩
- Connelly, Michael. “The Truth About the Health Care Bills”. 12 Aug 2009. Connelly. 27 Sep 2009.↩
- Orient, Jane M. “Town Halls: If Congress Really Cared What You Think. . .” 22 Sep 2007. Campaign for Liberty. 27 Sep 2009.↩
- See Health Care Collectivists.↩