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Irony of health care legislation lawsuits

April 7, 2010 - Jim Anderson
A divisive order of the new health care law is its mandate for individuals to buy insurance.

Many liberals object because they see it as a gift to the overpriced private insurance market, with no public option to provide competition. Many conservatives see it as a power grab by the federal government.

For the most part, liberals are swallowing their medicine.

Conservatives are striking back with lawsuits.

So far, 15 states have announced lawsuits claiming that a mandate to buy insurance violates legal restraints on the federal government. The feds, they argue, are overreaching by subjecting citizens to a fine if they do not comply with a mandate to buy a good or service.

Troubling as the mandate may be, there is a dangerous philosophical problem at the core of the lawsuits.

The logic of the lawsuits is that citizens have a right to shun health insurance. Not to shun health care necessarily, but health insurance.

On the flip side, does that mean insured citizens have a right to demand that care be denied to the uninsured at institutions the insured citizens support?

In the end, whose position is more pernicious: Those who would try to gamble by shunning insurance, often at the expense of the insured, or those who would suggest that the gamblers pay with their lives?

Of course, it’s no contest. The uninsured deserve life-saving care as much as the insured.

It’s hard, however, to dodge the irony. Wasn’t that the driving premise for health care reform in the first place?

I stumbled across a comment from a health care legislation protester who bragged that he should have the right to “die like a dog in the street” if he should so choose.

Brave words, but puzzling.


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