Lee Wrights: The Health Care Law Is Not Only Unconstitutional, It’s Unhealthy

by R. Lee Wrights

BURNET, Texas (March 31) – Like most bills passed by Congress, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does exactly the opposite of what its title implies. It doesn’t protect patients at all, but actually harms them by making health care more expensive and less available. The U.S. Supreme Court has the opportunity to overturn this unconstitutional and damaging law, and it should – do away with the entire law.

The most obvious reason to strike down this law, to anyone who has a clear understanding of the U.S. Constitution, is that there’s nothing in the Constitution that grants the federal government the power to have anything at all to do with health care in the first place. The law completely disregards the principle of a limited federal government with specific and enumerated powers.

To justify the law, supporters employed a distorted interpretation of the commerce clause. When the Founders gave the federal government the power to “regulate commerce … among the several states” it was clearly understood to mean that individual states couldn’t put tariffs on goods or services from other states, or prevent the import or export of goods or services between states.

In other words, people could buy and sell across state lines without hindrance. It was in no way intended to give power to the federal government to force people to buy something. As James Madison explained, this principle of specific and limited power would be turned on its head because “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done … the government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions.”

The second reason the court should overturn this noxious law is that it fundamentally destroys the special relationship between doctors and patients. Contrary to attempts by President Barack Obama and others to blame the greed of medical practitioners for the supposed health care crisis, most people do not go into medical practice to get rich. They become doctors to help people. This law prevents them from doing that. An increasing number of doctors are giving up their private medical practices because of the burden of excessive government regulation.

As the federal government has become more and more entangled in health care, doctors spend more time dealing with government bureaucrats and insurance companies than they do with patients. Costs, to doctors, and to patients, have skyrocketed and the quality and availability of care has declined. The health care law only made this problem worse.

Under the plan, “accountable care organizations” operating under rules written by federal bureaucrats will decide what medical practices and services are provided and how much reimbursement is paid to doctors. In other words, medical decisions will be determined by cost, not by patient need. Further, the law stifles innovation with more controls on the cost and use of services. It even places a tax on pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers.

America once had the best health care system imaginable. As recently as the 1960s, low-cost health insurance was available to virtually everyone — including people with existing medical problems. Doctors made house calls. A hospital stay cost only a few days’ pay. Charity hospitals were available to take care of families who could not afford to pay for health care.

That system was destroyed not by the free market, not by greedy doctors or insurance companies, but by power-hungry politicians seeking a means to increase their power. They saddled health care providers with excessive and intrusive government regulation, thus driving up costs and limiting access to health care for many Americans. In effect, they had the federal government break your legs, then hand you a pair of crutches and say, “See, if it weren’t for the government you would not be able to walk.”

If Americans are ever going to learn to walk again without the aid of a government crutch, the Supreme Court must strike down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That will be the first step toward true health care reform.


R. Lee Wrights, 53, a libertarian writer and political activist, is seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war. To that end he has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states. Wrights is a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party and co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., he now lives and works in Texas.

Lee Wrights for President
Contact: Brian Irving, press secretary
press@wrights2012.com
919.538.4548

20 thoughts on “Lee Wrights: The Health Care Law Is Not Only Unconstitutional, It’s Unhealthy

  1. Robert Capozzi

    well done.

    I am curious, though. IIRC, there’s a law that says emergency rooms can’t turn away patients. This passed in the 80s in reaction to hospitals turning away people who were dying for lack of insurance. The unintended consequence of this was to flood the emergency rooms.

    Very easy to be against ObamaCare, and hope the Supremes see it for what it is.

    But the “let them bleed out” thing is a bit harder to feel 100% good about. Should the good L just say, Sorry, that’s the bleeders problem? Let them die on the pavement.

    Or would the good L say, Well, over time, charitable emergency rooms will take the place of regular emergency rooms? (Some do this, but when you’re bleeding, time is of the essence, etc.)

    Once we start down the path of statism, it does become harder to reverse course. Could there be creative ways to deal with the emergency room mandate? A clearinghouse to garnish wages to pay the hospital over time?

  2. Ctomp

    Good piece. Not only does he establish the constitutional reason for not supporting this legislation, but Wrights goes well beyond that in addressing the actual harm that the law will cause.

    Recently, I studied Jill Stein’s Green New Deal. Though I commend her for having an actual plan which attempts to address problems, the program would go much further in wrecking the economy and eliminating personal choice. While I do believe she has good intentions for the right reasons, there are glaring holes in the plan on how it well it would work and at what true cost. Among many issues discussed in this new deal is healthcare for all.

    Libertarian rebuttals like this address those oversights and are needed, not only for supporters of the major parties, but also groups like the Greens who are strong on issues of peace and certain categories of civil rights, but suffer philosophically when it comes to economic freedom.

    I hope that Wrights continues to articulate these ideas regardless of the outcome at the convention.

  3. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC@1,

    “IIRC, there’s a law that says emergency rooms can’t turn away patients.”

    There’s a law that says that emergency rooms that accept government money (via payments from Medicare and Medicaid) can’t turn away patients.

    “This passed in the 80s in reaction to hospitals turning away people who were dying for lack of insurance.”

    No, it wasn’t. It was passed in reaction to the practice of private/for-profit hospitals “dumping” uninsured patients on public/non-profit hospitals.

  4. George Phillies

    The core substantial issue is that the emergency room care is not being paid for by the government that demands that people receive care.

    The costs, and emergency room care for example of retards who think that if they have the flu they should get a course of antibiotics is extremely expensive, are covered by cost transfers — the costs are viewed as ‘administrative’ and charged to the people who have insurance.

    Oh, you mean you thought the cost of the care was dropped from heaven by winged unicorns?

    This transfer also pushes up the cost of your medical insurance. A lot.

    By the way, the private for-profit hospitals found a simpler solution for the problem you are describing.

    It’s a big sign on the front of the building.

    It reads “NO EMERGENCY SERVICES”.

  5. Robert Capozzi

    Tk and GP, so are y’all saying the L response to the bleed-out.problem is closing emergency rooms?

  6. Michael H. Wilson

    here is a link to Merchant Medicine http://www.merchantmedicine.com/home.cfm which has information on retail health clinics. Retail clinics are usually staffed by nurses and physicians assistants. They offer medical care a lower price than emergency rooms.

    In some states it is difficult to start them up because of corporate practice of medicine laws and certificates of need.

  7. Michael H. Wilson

    Here is a link to an article in the NEJM on nurse practitioners “Sixteen states plus the District of Columbia have already liberalized and standardized their scope-of-practice regulations and allow nurse practitioners to practice and prescribe independently” http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1012121

    The LP should be promoting their independence.

  8. Kimberly Wilder

    A Green Party perspective on health care in general, and this current Constitutional issue:

    http://www.onthewilderside.com/2012/03/29/health-care-ruling-wont-deliver-reform-americans-need-says-green-party-prez-cand-stein/

    Not everyone here will agree with all of it. But, you may like this part:

    Jill Stein, a GP Prez contender states…

    “The mandate that every American buy expensive, inadequate health insurance is a scheme developed by Republicans and foisted on the nation by Democrats. The winners are the health insurance companies.”

  9. Wassily Turgenevich Fyodorow

    Mutual aid societies used to provide very affordable insurance for workers, but not tied to their employer (more like a union, but not exactly).

    The AMA made it illegal because doctors’ profits were suffering since medical care became too cheap.

    A few decades later with the AMA monopoly more entrenched, routine health care was first moved to an insurance model rather than a fee for service model (during WWII) and became tied to employment when wages were controlled and benefits became a proxy, through tax incentives.

    It was then that medical prices started to spiral out of control in earnest.

  10. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC@5,

    Sorry, I missed that when you posted it:

    “Tk and GP, so are y’all saying the L response to the bleed-out.problem is closing emergency rooms?”

    Um. no.

    What I’m saying is that the law you mention was not passed pursuant to solving any “bleed-out problem” in the first place.

    The law was passed not because patients were being dumped on the sidewalk, but because poor and uninsured patients were being sent from private/for-profit hospitals to government/non-profit hospitals.

    It was a cost-shifting measure, not a life-saving measure.

  11. Robert Capozzi

    11 tk, I don’t pretend to be an expert on patient dumping, but Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) was passed in part because this dumping led to fatalities. As I recall, it was the deaths more than the cost shifting that triggered calls for EMTALA.

  12. Thomas L. Knapp

    @13,

    “Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) was passed in part because this dumping led to fatalities.”

    OK, I’ll bite.

    Names of the dead, please?

  13. Let the T-Rex of Talk Radio Entertain U2day

    Everything is Hyped to increase the State and their crooked take (in money and power) !

    The leeches will always leech through propaganda (backed by guns) until STOPPED! With millions of fans who receive but crumbs from the theft, crumbs indeed but willing participating thieves indeed!

    Personal SELF Responsibility, then spouse/partner, then offspring(s), then other relatives, then and only then, friends and strangers if you choose. The only honest, fair and free way…..

    No one owes you a living (or healthcare, etc.), you are responsible for yourself and your offspring(s). Period.

    Get the Gov’t out and cost will fall.

    It is better to give than to receive. – Jesus Christ

  14. Robert Capozzi

    19 tk, entirely possible that there were a few cases that were hyped, yes. I seem to recall reports of it happening.

    Is it all fabricated?

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