Friday, October 09, 2009

Making Healthcare Reform Optional for States Won’t Work

The latest fad in the Senate is to amend healthcare reform legislation so that states that don’t want healthcare reform can opt out of it.

It’s an insane idea. Who on Earth would have ever thought that this was a good idea? I know, Rick Perry probably thinks it’s a good idea. According to Perry, Texas didn’t need $555 million in federal dollars to pay its unemployed workers over a period past when their unemployment checks ran out. Nope, not when it could spend a billion dollars to get the same effect by borrowing the money and paying interest on it.

It’s insane to trust the judgment of states, letting them judge for themselves whether or not to bring healthcare costs under control. That isn’t even a logical decision to make.

No, this idea is as insane as letting the states decide whether they want to opt out of the provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Or Medicare. Or the Emancipation Proclamation.

But more to the point, I am no lawyer, but doesn’t this bring up an equal protection question? What if, as a hypothetical, Joe Wilson in South Carolina comes down with skin cancer but because his healthcare policy is capped, because his state has opted out of healthcare reform, Joe Wilson will have to forgo the treatment that could save his life but David Vitter, who is from Louisiana, which has adopted the federal healthcare reform program, can have his life extended when he comes down with the same disease?

Very clearly, allowing healthcare reform in one area of the country while banning it in another is denial of equal protection of the law. Denial of one’s 14th Amendment rights.

In short, it’s not just an insane idea. It’s unconstitutional.

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