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Health care professionals—pharmacists included—watched closely as the Supreme Court heard the arguments concerning the health care law that has aroused so much controversy and concern in the 2 years since it was passed. Now we wait until we hear what the Court has to say. I would say that it bears very close watching, not just because millions of American will be affected and health care professionals will see their worlds changing, but because the issue strikes at the very core of what this nation was founded on—liberty, freedom to succeed, and limited government.
An expert in constitutional studies put it very well: “...the Court must articulate the constitutional vision and principles we’ve so long abandoned, as the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals did when it ruled that Congress, in enacting this statute, had unleashed effectively unlimited regulatory power, tantamount to the general police power the Framers left to the states, and in so doing had upset the balance between federal and state governments that the Framers established for the purpose of securing our liber- ties.”
So says Roger Pilan, vice president for legal affairs at the Cato Institute and director of Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies, in discussing the oral arguments and the action against Obamacare taken by 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Business, and 2 indi- viduals. His analysis of how we got to this point in the first place puts the argument into proper perspective. It’s all about balance—and how this country’s founders set up the states and defined the role of the government. As James Madison stated, the powers of the new government would be “few and defined,” aimed mainly at securing liberty.
So what happened to change things so dra- matically that today the government is telling individuals they must buy health insurance or pay a penalty? According to Pilan, the constitution was turned “on its head” starting with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal because fundamental changes occurred—mainly due to politics—that put us on the road to an ever-larger gov- ernment. Congress also gained the power to regulate commerce among the states.
Today, the threat of Obamacare is strongly felt by the states—as 26 of them pushed back with the Supreme Court oral arguments in the past weeks. With the threat to withhold state Medicaid funds, the health care law uses Congress to try to compel the states to expand their Medicaid rolls and coverage. It will be extremely enlightening to see what the Supreme Court makes of such over-reaching govern- ment power—especially in light of the balance and constitutionally limited govern- ment the founders of the Constitution sought—and which has worked for more than 200 years.
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