EDITORIAL: CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS & UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES IN HEALTHCARE REFORM BILL

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By Jim Stieringer, President
Grossmont Healthcare District

 

November 14, 2009 (La Mesa) -- The House of Representatives' vote on November 7th is the first step in a long process that will have a profound effect on healthcare funding throughout the nation. Although few have read the 1990 page proposed legislation, some parts lend themselves to an early analysis.

 

There may be a constitutional problem in compelling people to purchase health insurance. Although many states currently require drivers to insure their automobiles, no one is required to drive a car. In fact, the state of California requires every owner of a motor vehicle to maintain an acceptable form of financial responsibility.

 

It would seem to be a giant leap to require the purchase of health insurance, since living and breathing aren't activities that present an optional experience such as owning and driving a car.

 

An unintended consequence of the proposed legislation may also include the "opting out" of people holding memberships in the American Medical Association and AARP (formerly called the American Association of Retired Persons), both of which offered an endorsement of the House bill. It is likely that some physicians and senior citizens may actually dislike the proposed legislation. The reduction of $400 billion from Medicare over the next decade may engender a generational rift between our younger and older citizens.

 

Sometime after Thanksgiving the U.S. Senate will consider a very different version of health care legislation. If passed, the Senate and House versions will have to be "reconciled". That compromise bill will then be voted on by the Senate before it is returned for a second vote in the House of Representatives and finally sent to the President for his signature or veto.

 

Our local Healthcare District is not a "player" in this drama. However, each of our five members has his/her own perception of the merits of healthcare reform. It is indeed an exciting time to be living in this great country. Let's all stay tuned to what our federal lawmakers decide to do to us or for us.

The opinions expressed in this editorial reflect those of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. If you wish to submit an editorial for consideration, please contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.