AUSTIN – Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the individual mandate within the federal Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is a tremendous blow against Americans’ health care and individual liberties, according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
“The fundamental question before the U.S. Supreme Court in this case was, if the federal government can force us to buy health insurance, what can’t it force us to do?” said Foundation president Brooke Rollins. “Though the individual mandate was upheld under the taxation authority of the Congress, rather than the Commerce Clause, the net effect is the same: the Constitutional limits of federal power are now dangerously eroded.”
“James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, argued passionately that in any constitutional republic, the transition to unrestrained majority rule is often an irrevocable step on the road to tyranny,” Rollins said. “Today’s ruling should be a wake-up call to all Americans: now more than ever, it is time to redouble our efforts to reclaim the proper sovereignty of states and citizens.”
Arlene Wohlgemuth, the Foundation’s executive director and director of its Center for Health Care Policy, said, “The Supreme Court got one big thing right: the individual mandate is a de facto tax on every single American. The problem is that it’s a uniquely destructive tax for American households, American businesses, and the American economy. The extraordinary growth of federal power and the degradation of the American economy go hand in hand.”
“Congress now needs to act quickly to repeal this law and take a new approach to health care reform,” Wohlgemuth said. “But this time, we need to fix health care the right way – with patient-centered reforms that emphasize the patient-doctor relationship and allow them to make more effective and economical health care choices with less interference from insurance companies or government.”
Wohlgemuth encouraged the U.S. Congress to include the following elements in any new health care reform legislation, following repeal of the PPACA:
– Individual ownership of insurance policies – the tax deduction that allows employers to own your insurance should instead be given to the individual;
– Promotion of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) – HSAs empower individuals to monitor their health care costs and create incentives for individuals to use only those services that are necessary;
– Interstate purchasing of insurance – policies in some states are more affordable because they include fewer bells and whistles; consumers should be empowered to decide which benefits they need and what prices they are willing to pay;
– Reduction of mandated benefits insurers are required to cover – empowering consumers to choose which benefits they need is only effective if insurers are able to fill these needs;
– Reallocation of the majority of Medicaid spending into simple vouchers for low-income individuals to purchase their own insurance – an income-based sliding scale voucher program would eliminate much of the massive bureaucracy that is needed to implement today’s complex and burdensome Medicaid system and produce considerable cost savings;
– Medical liability reform following Texas’s example – defensive medicine needlessly drives up medical costs and creates an adversarial relationship between doctors and patients.
“Our research has established that a patient-centered approach to health care reform would build on America’s world-leading quality and high patient satisfaction in a way that extends those benefits to even more people and empowers all patients to make their own medical decisions,” Wohlgemuth said.
Brooke Rollins is president and chief executive officer of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
The Honorable Arlene Wohlgemuth is the executive director and director of the Center for Health Care Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. She served 10 years in the Texas House of Representatives, specializing in health care issues.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin.
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