By Amanda Ayers
Roughly 47 million people in the United States do not have healthcare. With the passage of President Obama’s healthcare reform bill by a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives against unanimous opposition from members of the Republican party, the issue is as relevant as ever.
Our government is not only attempting to assist the uninsured, but also trying to quell the anxieties of those in fear of being denied coverage. I believe it is in America’s best interest to reevaluate and forgo thoughts of universal healthcare.
Although President Obama attempted to frame his healthcare proposal in capitalist terms, the underlying truth is that it is fundamentally anti-capitalist. The government’s “public option” will have rates so low as to eliminate competition among private enterprise and medical practices. By having a monopoly over the healthcare system, government is singlehandedly driving away competition.
As healthcare is an economic good to be bought and sold, it cannot be justified as a service that a government must ensure for everyone. Only in a competitive and relatively free market will health services, like doctors, equipment and treatments, be of the highest caliber. Inferior care obviously does not apply to every single medical center under a universal healthcare system; but, a correlation between a competitive market and higher-quality services exists. Take Great Britain as an example.
If the federal government provides healthcare, discrepancies arise about what kinds of treatments should and should not be guaranteed. Should this system provide services for a woman to freely obtain an abortion? Government officials will be left to subjectively render some treatments worthwhile and “cost-effective” and others unnecessary.
In this system, government is interfering with the right to privacy. Rather than doctors and patients making the decisions regarding health, life and death, the federal government is intervening in these personal matters in an unprecedented manner.
Although many proponents are confident in “control costs” to manage the deficit as a result of the reform, one need only glance at the strained national budget as a result of Medicare and Medicaid decades ago. Now, imagine adding roughly 16 million people (an estimate made by the Congressional Budget Office) to the already irresolvable Medicaid rolls. I find faulty logic in a government that stands at over 13 trillion dollars in national debt (according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury), yet yearns to expand government programs, further augmenting taxes, especially on the upper class. Broader coverage and cost control do not add up. Universal healthcare will not ultimately be most beneficial for those who are actually subsidizing it, and it is logical to predict that even more money will be poured into this reformed healthcare system than originally planned in the coming years.
Rights do not come, nor should they be granted, by our government; they should be merely protected by the government. I distinguish between the right to pursue happiness and the provided right to happiness, and the duty to promote the general welfare, not for government to provide it.
Many who desire to fit the Constitution to the modern dilemma of healthcare believe providing proper healthcare services to those who need them is attending to the general welfare of the American people. This tenet is reflective of the liberal political culture desired by the founders in the writing of the Constitution. This culture called for both a government that intervened only to an absolutely necessary extent, and one that endorsed the values of individual responsibility, initiative and the faith in the “American Dream.”
The commerce clause is also very pertinent to the economic argument against healthcare. Many argue that if we accept that the government’s responsibility is to use the power to tax and spend money for the purpose of protecting its citizens’ right to life and general welfare, healthcare is certainly an institutional solution, as it is often necessary to sustain life.
From an economic standpoint, Congress is simply capitalizing on its power to regulate interstate commerce, within which the healthcare industry certainly falls. The intent of the Constitution, however, was federalism: a balance between federal power and state power.
States have no independent sovereign place in the new healthcare system to set policy as they see fit. Rather than maintain a voluntary federal-state partnership, these new reforms impart a compulsory top-down federal program and violate the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The reform is putting services like healthcare into the hands of the federal government (which has enacted a mandate for the majority of its people), rather than its states and citizens.
The founders never intended these services to be provided, but instead wanted to protect our ability to procure them.