Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Health-care mandate awaiting Supreme Court ruling
What’s wrong with the mandate?
As we await the Supreme Court judgment of the health-care-reform law [“The key point health-law allies failed to address,” page one, June 24], the meaning of the “mandate” so far has not been clarified by the media or by the various courts.
There are many dictionary definitions of the word mandate, and the prevalent interpretation appears to be that a mandate is mandatory or obligatory; that is, it must be obeyed by everyone under penalty of law for disobedience.
However, several sections of the law reveal that enforcement of collection of the fine for failure to comply is nonexistent — measures to collect the fine are specifically prohibited. If this is the case, in a real sense, the mandate of this law has no practical meaning, except that it might motivate reasonable people to obtain health insurance somehow under the various provisions of the law. Those who refuse to obtain health insurance still can receive health care at emergency rooms at any hospital at public expense, because that is the law of the land.
Principles of insurance are simple. Auto insurance is required by all states to protect both the public and the driver before an accident. We buy life insurance usually long before we die. Buying health insurance under the new law is a sign of a national sense of community — we are all in this together. There is current evidence that the use of health care by others helps to protect the entire population; for instance, the epidemic of pertussis is partly the result of many people in some areas avoiding vaccination of their children.
So what is wrong with the mandate, constitutionally or otherwise?
— Irvin Emanuel, MD, Seattle
Not a damaging decision
I am greatly perplexed by the seemingly unquestioned perception that President Obama would be politically damaged by an overturning of Obamacare.
Forget the program’s perceived illegalities. Anytime valuable services are stripped from a huge throng of citizens, there’s going to be outrage. The majority justices would be perceived as heroes only by a jaded minority, impervious to what gets thrown out in its fanatical bathwater.
— Lew Witham, Seattle
Conservatives and Obamacare
There is nothing wrong with The Times’ story “The key point health-law allies failed to address” [page one, June 24] except everything.
A more accurate characterization of the point the story was trying, with only modest success, to make would be “Conservatives rape Obamacare — Times blames victim.” The conservative movement set out to oppose Obama’s program literally in spite of its contents.
The program was based on the Romnneycare plan adopted in Massachusetts under the leadership now presidential candidate (and Obamacare opponent) Mitt Romney. Obama deliberately incorporated conservative ideas like the individual mandate. He also supported Max Baucus’ nearly unending efforts to reach an accommodation with Senate Republicans.
When the bill was finally passed into law, supporters knew that the Republicans would launch unremitting attacks along a broad front — you just can’t defend against everything.
Up to this point there had been no question as to the constitutionality of single payer, a conservative idea invented by the Heritage Foundation 20 years ago. It has been championed by conservatives and Republicans on numerous occasions since. At no time prior to Obama endorsing the idea was any issue raised as to the constitutionality of the idea.
The large well-funded conservative operation called The Federalist Society, whose sole job is to weigh in on anything they consider the least bit constitutionally dubious, had nothing to say while the idea was only being championed by conservatives. But by now conservatives have discovered that they can successfully disguise any kind of crass political ploy as a high-minded defense of something or other.
So we get the broccoli argument introduced into Supreme Court hearings by a sitting justice; this is the context in which “allies failed to address” this argument. How is this different from “It’s the victim’s fault because she left the top button of her blouse unbuttoned or because her skirt failed to cover her knees?”
— Patrick J. Russell, Seattle