Don’t scare off health care
The Supreme Court recently held hearings and arguments on the health care bill and will render its findings in June. Until then, speculation of all kind will circle the air with confusion and fear of the bill’s passage or failure to pass. This time, the fear game might be justified no matter the decision because there will be winners and losers on both sides.
Confusion about the bill still exists, and it is true the federal government failed miserably in defining the bill and its benefits. Ironically, listening to the arguments presented to the Supreme Court, it was obvious they will not be ruling on what is in the bill but the constitutionality of the bill – most of all, how it affects states’ rights with the attorney representing 26 states as the plaintiff.
Federalism represents a national system of government that has both a central authority and autonomous constituent jurisdictions. In our case, states are mostly totally separate and without autonomy, state jurisdictions would merely be administrative units of the national system. States are individual governments with a basic makeup paralleling the national institutions such as executive, legislative and judicial branches. They have the authority to set policy, tax, make laws, implement and fund it. They might choose to share and partner in some areas with the federal government.
A strong national government was deemed to be essential “to promote the general welfare,” which is the Preamble of the Constitution. Although the central government is powerful, the states are independent and have choices. Because the federal government has the right to also set policy, tax, make laws, implement and fund it, the states sometimes have a right to choose to participate with the federal government in certain programs. For example, each state has the right to establish, regulate, tax and fund the educational program in that state without federal intervention. However, the federal government has a federal educational program that the state can agree to join.
In joining, the state might receive federal funding in establishing and managing the programs. Once the funding is received the state must comply with all the regulations and guidelines set forth by the federal government to continue receiving funding. However, a similar basic analogy was used by the states’ attorney in describing the unconstitutionality of the health care bill, claiming it was coercion. One of the justices then asked the attorney, “Did he mean that the federal government offered a health care plan that was so good that the state could not refuse to accept it, and therefore was it coercion on the part of the federal government?” That was a defining moment for me!
The Affordable Health Care Act is, of course, dependent on everyone participating, which will make care more affordable for everyone. The fear of it not passing will be tragic to tens of millions of the uninsured, and the fear of it passing will be terrifying to the tea party.
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