District 8 Senator Russell Olson and a handful of Republicans in Pierre seem to think they can pass state laws that trump federal law. Russ joined a crushed minority of conservative posers who voted this week for SB 137, a silly and superfluous little bill that read as follows:
Pursuant to the ninth and tenth amendments to the United States Constitution, any law made by Congress which interferes with the right of any person or entity to choose their personal physician, private health care systems or private health care coverage, or which imposes any penalty, tax, fee, or fine, of any type, for declining to purchase health care coverage or participate in any particular health care system or plan, is null and void within the state of South Dakota.
Never mind that, if such federal laws were unconstitutional, we wouldn't need a state law to negate them. Never mind that South Dakota can choose to ignore a federal health care law any more than we can ignore the Voting Rights Act or not hire black people. Never mind that no flavor of the federal health insurance reforms proposed in the past year would restrict anyone's ability to choose doctor, hospital, or insurance plan (in fact, a public option would increase our choices). Never mind that these Republicans seem perfectly comfortable with forcing everyone to buy insurance for their cars but not for their bodies and their children.
I note with interest that in acknowledging a right to choose a doctor, a hospital, and health coverage, Russ and bill sponsors Sen. Gordon Howie and Rep. Thomas Brunner appear to be acknowledging that we have a right to health care.
Of course, Russ and his wealthy Republican friends believe no such thing. Private insurers interfere with my purported right to choose my doctor by locking me into provider networks and charging me more if I seek care outside that network. SB 137 doesn't stop that. private insurers penalize when I decline to buy health insurance: when I come back a year later looking to buy in again, they'll slap me with a huge premium for not having continuous coverage, or deny me outright. SB 137 doesn't stop that.
Private insurance companies do much more to practically limit my exercise of the health care rights SB 137 enumerates. But Russ and the boys keep telling me my own government, run by my neighbors and me, is the greatest threat to my liberty.
Assurant is jacking my health premium 23%. President Obama wants to lower my premium and require private insurers to spend more of our money on actual health care. I have met the enemy, and he is not us.
Senator Olson, if you and your conservative friends really believe your own rhetoric about our right to access health care and insurance, you'll knock off the nullification nincompoopery and get on board with real federal health care reform.