Stephens Media columnist Steve Brawner uses his weekly forum to weigh in on the Arkansas legislature’s attempt to undo the federal health care insurance mandate.
Brawner argues that state lawmakers are wasting time, money and resources on a subject that is going to be decided by the ultimate judicial body, the U.S. Supreme Court. He also contends that the Public Health committee that defeated the bill did the right thing.
Attempting to defy the Constitution through an act of the Arkansas Legislature is a good way to get the state into a court case it certainly will lose, with taxpayers footing the legal bill. A more appropriate response at the state level is for legislators to adopt a resolution expressing their displeasure with the law, without declaring that the state intends to disobey it.
The Constitution is a wonderful document, which is why people are always waving it around as long as they agree with it. It says states can’t disobey federal law. But it also says that the law can be challenged — not in state legislatures, but in federal court, which is exactly what is happening now. And it also provides a way to change that law — through elections. Which is exactly what happened last November.
The purpose of insurance should be to insure — against catastrophic costs. It should be cheaper with higher deductibles so that Americans make more medical decisions the same way they do everywhere else — by weighing costs versus benefits. But it should pay most if not all of the bills associated with major medical events or conditions so that Americans aren’t ruined if they get sick. And then a safety net still must exist for the vulnerable.
That wouldn’t be a perfect system, but it would be better than what we have, which is consuming 17 percent of our gross domestic product without keeping us healthy, or the convoluted mess that was passed last year.
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