Critical Condition

NRO’s health-care blog.

Next Step for Health Freedom: How about a Constitutional Amendment?


What is the next step for advocates of freedom in health care, now that the majority faction has stumbled just short of the finish line in its attempt to take over every American’s access to medical services?

The media are uncertain whether the majority will use esoteric parliamentary procedures to pass the take-over, or narrow the goals to something that the public might swallow more easily, like “repealing the anti-trust exemption” for health insurers. (Actually, there is no “anti-trust exemption,” but that is another topic for another day.) With all this confusion, the other side might be able to seize the initiative.

Here’s an idea: A constitutional amendment forbidding Congress from mandating that Americans buy health insurance, or otherwise limiting our ability to spend our own money on medical services of our own choice.

I know: It sounds a little crazy. However, I got the idea from Rep. Donna Edwards, a congresswoman of the hard left who was so incensed by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision on corporate funding of third-party political communications, that she’s introduced a constitutional amendment in the Judiciary Committee, with the sponsorship of the committee chairman, Rep. John Conyers. The proposed amendment would carve corporations out of the First Amendment.

With respect to health care, no less than 35 states have seen legislators introduce resolutions protecting their residents’ health-care freedom from federal intrusion. This movement started in Arizona, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (a forum for conservative state legislators and their allies, of which I’m a member), has passed a model resolution. It’s even moving along briskly in Virginia, under a Dem majority.

Why should state legislators have all the fun, fighting for health freedom? There’s really no reason why the same resolution cannot be introduced in Congress as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I’ve testified at committee hearings in state legislatures about this resolution. Believe me, the other side really struggles when the debate focuses on freedom. I think it would be beneficial to make Congress have the same debate.

John R. Graham is director of Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute.


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