Monday, December 27, 2010

So You are Forcing Me to Buy Health Insurance? Judge Says You Can't

I'm fairly liberal. I would love this country to join the ranks of developed countries that provide health care to their residents. However, mandating that everyone PURCHASE health insurance is not the best alternative. I totally believe that this was a mechanism to garner support from managed care organizations for Obama's health care initiative. We can agree that states force their residents to purchase car insurance. I don't think that's right either by the way. Just as I don't think universities should force you to purchase a product to enter their institutions (SAT and ACT). These examples are easier to swallow because it is the individual university and the state's prerogative to do so. To make matters worse we would be fined/taxed if we did NOT purchase health insurance. I wrestled with this in my soul. I just decided I just don't like it. 

A Virginia judge doesn't like it either and has declared it unconstitutional. In his 42-page opinion, Federal Judge Henry E. Hudson "concluded that requiring most people to get insurance or pay a fine - as the law mandates starting in 2014 - is an unprecedented expansion of federal power and cannot be justified under Congress's authority to regulate interstate commerce" according to the Washington Post. I'm no lawyer (thank heavens!) but I totally agree. However, as a political scientist, the federal government can simply coerce states to adopt such a mandate individually by withholding funds or offering grant opportunities for those who do. You know, the way they did with increasing the drinking age. More evidence of my lack of law training...why have two different Judges in the same state of Virgina upheld it? I'll have one of my lawyer BFFs explain. The difference between politics and the law is supposed to be objectivity...but we all know that the law is also left up to interpretation. (ahem politics!) Can't wait to see what the Supreme Court says. (20 other states including my lovely state of Florida are fighting to throw the entire law out. That's reaching.)

So what happens if someone hits you and you don't have car insurance? You pay through your nose or you don't get your car fixed. No I am not advocating that someone should die in the ER triage because they don't have the means to pay care. Insurance should be affordable so that everyone would have the ability to ELECT to have coverage. Should you CHOOSE to not purchase insurance, you should 'die' trying to pay the government/hospital back. That is tax enough.
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