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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Health Care Reform a State's Rights Issue?

First, here's a quick item.

Idaho took the lead in a growing, nationwide fight against health care overhaul Wednesday when its governor became the first to sign a measure requiring the state attorney general to sue the federal government if residents are forced to buy health insurance.

Similar legislation is pending in 37 other states.

Constitutional law experts say the movement is mostly symbolic because federal laws supersede those of the states.

But the state measures reflect a growing frustration with President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The proposal would cover some 30 million uninsured people, end insurance practices such as denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, require almost all Americans to get coverage by law, and try to slow the cost of medical care nationwide.

Recently, the state of Virginia also challenged the Feds' power in a similar way.

Congress hasn’t even passed Obamacare yet, but if and when it does, Virginia’s General Assembly has already fired the first round in what could be a major legal showdown with Washington over the limits of federal power.

On Thursday, the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere became the first state to enact legislation that prohibits the federal government from forcing its citizens to purchase government-approved health insurance. The measure was sponsored by two Northern Virginians - State Senator Jill Vogel, R-Warrenton, and Del. Bob Marshall, R-Manassas - who also co-signed a Feb. 24 letter to President Obama protesting state legislators’ exclusion from his recent health care summit.

In an ominous sign for the president’s top domestic priority, five Democrats in the Virginia Senate joined 18 Republicans to vote for the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act in a state Obama won handily less than 18 months ago. They were, perhaps, influenced by the 2,400 grassroots activists who trekked to Richmond last month to oppose federally mandated insurance coverage.

There are 33 other states considering passing a similar law to Virginia. This means that even if Obamacare passed, it would ultimately set up a fight between the federal government and the states over the tenth amendment.

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.

I'm so fascinated by the battle this would cause that I'm now rooting for Obamacare to pass. If Obamacare passed, a bunch of states would pass laws that would legislate that they don't have to abide by portions of the law. This would set off a battle about whether or not health care is a federal or state issue. The tensions created in the Constitution between the branches of government is one of the many brilliances of the Constitution.

This battle would put on display exactly that tension. In my opinion, the states would slaughter the federal government. Of course, ultimately then, health care reform would be decided by the Supreme Court. This would be even more fascinating. Imagine, the Democrats will pass health care reform besides every possilbe sign that no one wants it. Yet, that won't be the end of it and the Supreme Court would decide if its constitutional.

1 comment:

AG said...

I can just imagine the Supreme Court's ruling:


I also find the idea that "nobody wants it" a little condescending. I've done legal aid work for some clients who could really use this bill's closing of the Medicare "doughnut hole".