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The Federal Government
and Healthcare
GalvDailyNewsMastheadThree Musketeers - Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius, and John Gay
Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius, and John Gay all ran for Congress in the 2012 Republican Primary. They became friends and have been writing weekly columns for the Galveston County Daily News since May 2013.

April 17, 2017

There are two areas of healthcare where the federal government could play a positive role.  The first is to allow the interstate sale of health insurance.  The second is tort reform that limits the award a plaintiff could receive when suing a physician across state lines.  The latter might reduce the number of medical tests being ordered – some of which are ordered to protect physicians from lawsuits, not necessarily to help treat patients.

The Constitution states Congress has the power to “regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several states…”  This provision – the interstate commerce clause – outlines the federal government’s role in healthcare.  But the federal involvement in healthcare has gone beyond the powers enumerated in the Constitution while usurping the rights of the sovereign states and ultimately of the people of those states.
But wait, Obamacare wasn’t about healthcare!  The Supreme Court says Obamacare is a “tax.”  Congress has the authority “…to lay and collect taxes…”  What the Democratic-controlled Congress did was to require that everybody have health insurance or pay a tax (or fine).  Since Congress passed the Obamacare “tax” then it has the authority to repeal it.  But with many people now relying upon the provisions of Obamacare it would be political suicide to just repeal it. 

Some proposals have agreement among the Republicans such as eliminating the employer mandate (where employers must provide healthcare coverage) and the individual mandate that requires every person have health insurance or pay the tax penalty.  Some want to eliminate the requirement that all health insurance plans include specific coverage (e.g., women over 60 probably don’t need coverage for pregnancies).  Others want to ensure that health care costs are brought under control. 

The problem with many of these suggestions is they buy into the idea that providing healthcare is a federal responsibility; under the Constitution it’s not!  If government is to provide healthcare, then it’s the states and not the federal government that should do it.

So how do we step back from the Obamacare quagmire?  It must be done in a phased approach so the marketplace and those being insured have time to adjust/react to the new reality.  The first step is to repeal the mandates and the tax penalties.  Then put the states, insurance industry, and those being insured on notice that over a period of years all the federal funding/subsidies provided under Obamacare will be eliminated.  Doing this gives all parties the time to consider, plan and to determine how to respond.  A good/reasonable plan is essential to getting this done.

But there is another question.  Why have the Republicans in Congress -- who over the past six years have cast votes countless times to repeal Obamacare knowing full well those  measures would never become law --   why have they been frittering away their time instead of preparing a well-reasoned, well-thought out and consensus driven plan to deal with Obamacare? Instead they have become an embarrassment to themselves and an impediment to a successful outcome for the nation. Meanwhile the Democrats have become a stumbling block; resisting in lock-step any meaningful solutions.

Our View: it’s time we all work together for the good of the country!

Bill, Mark, and John