A federal judge in Florida has ruled that the health care mandate in President Barack Obama’s health care reform law is unconstitutional.
Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, Republican, was among those challenging the law in federal court. He was quick to portray the ruling as a victory for freedom. His press release:
OLYMPIA—A Florida judge today ruled that Congress exceeded its Constitutional authority in approving a new health care mandate requiring all US citizens to have or purchase health insurance or face a fine.
“The existing problems in our national health care system are recognized by everyone in this case,” said US District Court Judge Roger Vinson of the Northern District of Florida in his 78-page ruling. “There is widespread sentiment for positive improvements that will reduce costs, improve the quality of care, and expand availability in a way that the nation can afford.
“Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution,” Vinson said. “My conclusion in this case is based on an application of the Commerce Clause as it exists pursuant to the Supreme Court’s current interpretation and definition. Only the Supreme Court (or a Constitutional amendment) can expand that.”
Attorney General Rob McKenna, who joined the 26-state suit on behalf of the state of Washington, called the ruling a victory for individual and state rights.
“While we all recognize the vital need to access health care services in our country, forcing all U.S. citizens to buy a commercial product in the private market with their own money is an unprecedented and unconstitutional move by the federal government,” said McKenna. “Americans value their constitutional rights. They want a health care law that respects those rights and actually reduces the financial burdens on their families. That is why more than half of the states in America are challenging this new law.”
End press release.
Okay. But how do we get around the problem that, without a mandate, the people who choose to buy insurance will be the older, infirm people, which will make that insurance very expensive? How do we get around the fact that the uninsured will show up (already are showing up) in emergency rooms when they do get sick, to get care they cannot pay for, which becomes part of the hospital’s cost of doing business, which gets covered by those who have insurance? (This is where we are right now.)
If it’s unconstitutional to force anyone to pay for an insurance policy provided by a private insurance company, then let’s not do that. But what’s the alternative? Single-payer, also known as “Medicare for all”? Any other ideas?