A right to healthcare? And what about that loss of our freedoms.
The Kansas City Star
If a dozen constitutional lawyers weighed in on whether the people have a constitutional right to healthcare, there would be two six-packs of opinions whether the founding fathers thought the government could require a license to drive a car.
Which is why we have only odd Supreme Court justices. Odd number, I mean.
But while we’re arguing about driver’s licenses, why are we still arguing whether the Affordable Care Act establishes a right to healthcare. It does not. It instead sets out rules for insurance companies to follow when selling insurance, such as rules that say insurance companies can’t discriminate against the sick and disabled.
(In the background, some silly civil rights attorney is muttering “equal protection under the law…can’t remember where I saw that, but I know it’s there.” Another attorney yells, “Promote the general welfare, yeah, that’s it.” Still another attorney screams, “Abolish the Federal Reserve.”)
But back to the argument. The “right” to healthcare was legislatively established in an earlier federal law: The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). This law was passed in 1986 as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).
I guess this law must be constitutional because it has stood since 1986, though Justice Scalia may have said once in a speech that the Constitution can’t regulate hospitals because the word “hospital” does not appear in the Federalist Papers.
Not only does the EMTALA establish a legislatively defined “right” to treatment, but in so doing it establishes a federal mandate that requires health care professionals to provide uncompensated care regardless of the patient’s immigration status or ability to pay. Kobach to the rescue, please.
So, apparently, it’s constitutional for the government to order doctors into activity but not constitutional to order citizens into activity by requiring them to be responsible and buy insurance so they won’t end up in emergency rooms where the government orders doctors to treat them. Tennis anyone?
Of course, the millions of people who already have insurance and wouldn’t for a second take the risk of going without it then get to scream that their freedoms are being violated by being required to buy something they already have and want to keep. Even though their insurance premiums are being jacked up when hospitals raise charges to insurance companies to cover the costs of uncompensated care.
Meanwhile, Justice Scalia and President H.W. Bush have entered therapy to get over being forced to eat broccoli when they were kids. They’ve started a support group and believe Justice Kennedy will soon join them.
The theme of the support group is simple: My right not to eat broccoli is greater than the right of others to have access to health insurance so they won’t die from not eating enough broccoli.
Or something like that.