Conservatives like to argue that health care is not a right. But, in fact, it is. For years, federal law has required most hospitals to accept patients into their emergency rooms whether or not the sick and injured have the means to pay. If you run your car off the road and break your leg, the EMTs don’t demand to see your insurance card or ask, “credit or debit?” They trundle you off to the nearest hospital--which must fix you up.
This care is, of course, not free. Those of us who are insured pay for it. Indeed, the medical business survives on the black art of cost-shifting—that is to say, spreading the costs of those who can’t (or won’t) pay to those who can [Howard Gleckman, "Health care reform forces you to buy health insurance. That's fair. Here's why," Christian Science Monitor: Tax Vox, 2010.03.25].
Gleckman argues that, to be consistent, AG Jackley and fellow nullificationists ought to fight to overturn the E.R. mandate as well. It's unconstitutional to make hospitals care for anyone who doesn't have money, right?
That assumption—that we should only help people if we can get paid—underlies Jackley's lawsuit and much of the other defeated opposition to health care reform. That assumption, says Michael Moore, is the fundamental evil that health care reform has yet to challenge:
And the healthcare bill that was passed ultimately will be seen as a victory for capitalism, because it protected the capitalist model of providing healthcare for people. In other words, we’re not to help people unless there’s money to be made from it. That is so patently disgusting and immoral, but that’s the system. That’s where we live [Michael Moore, interview with Sharif Abdel Kouddous, "Michael Moore: Healthcare Bill 'A Victory for Capitalism'," Democracy Now, 2010.02.23].
We still have an inefficient and immoral health care system. We still need to work for an efficient and just single-payer system, like what we give our soldiers, veterans, and old folks.
Update 2010.03.29 08:25 CDT: Aberdeen American News agrees with me that AG Jackley should "cool his jets." Down, Mainstream Media, down! Keep agreeing with this blog, and you'll make me look bad. ;-)