The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is constitutional means that Congress now has power to do virtually whatever it wants. But having the power to write health care rules and actually improving our health care system are two very different things.
By finding that the individual mandate cannot stand under the Commerce Clause, but can stand when looked at as a tax, the Court essentially seems to be telling Americans that while Congress cannot control every aspect of our behavior, it has virtually unlimited powers to tax us and spend the money as it sees fit.
Moving more control over health care to Washington, D.C. means that Oregonians, and citizens of every state, will have even less control over our own health care decisions. Big, centralized government systems mean higher costs, less access and less innovation in one of the most important areas of our lives.
Now that the Court has failed to limit the role of the federal government in health care, it is up to Congress and the states to do so. The better chance for a lasting health care system fix involves empowering patients rather than marginalizing them. It involves giving them choices, and letting them do the inevitable rationing themselves, even if part of the money comes from public sources.
Today’s Court decision was a step in the wrong direction, but Cascade Policy Institute will continue working to reaffirm that in America personal liberty is a cornerstone, not an afterthought, of our way of life.
Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst and founder at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.