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Care and the Court


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On March 23, 2010, the president signed his signature ObamaCare health measure into law. While Americans strongly disagreed about the bill's merits, there was one area where they did concur -- that, to paraphrase Vice President Joe Biden, the new law was going to be a big…deal.

That is unquestionably true. ObamaCare, which will soon enter into full effect, represents the greatest change in health-care cost, delivery, and choice in U.S. history. Whether that is good change or bad change, of course, is a matter of intense debate.

For their part, the American people have given the law a clear and consistent thumbs down. After two years of public vetting, ObamaCare is just about as unpopular as when it was signed into law. A recent Kaiser poll revealed a staggering 67 percent unfavorability rating for ObamaCare's central element, and Gallup reports that 75 percent of Americans believe the law is unconstitutional. In other words, despite a massive PR push by the White House, Americans are pretty clear about what's about to hit them -- and they don't like it one bit.

With this widespread public anger as a backdrop, the House of Representatives, which voted 219 to 212 to pass the bill in 2010, voted by a much wider 245 to 189 margin to repeal it last year (the repeal measure failed in the Democrat-controlled Senate, though, by a vote of 51 to 47).

President Obama, of course, has vowed to veto any meaningful attempts to reform or repeal the law. But, ultimately, that will not matter if the Supreme Court finds it unconstitutional.

On March 26, opening arguments will begin in a case brought by 27 states challenging the law's constitutionality. Accordingly, 42 of my Senate colleagues and I have filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing against the constitutionality of ObamaCare's central requirement that individuals must purchase government-approved health insurance. And, if that "individual mandate" -- the cornerstone on which the law is built -- is struck down, ObamaCare in its entirety should fall as well.

I am hopeful that the court will make the right decision. Indeed, with ObamaCare out of the picture, we will finally be able to get to work on true health-care reform -- in other words, reform that is constitutional, affordable, and, moreover, can actually work.

In my view, true reform should include medical-liability modernization (defensive medicine costs more than $100 billion annually, according to a study by Stanford economists), expanded access to Health Savings Accounts, improved health insurance portability, more incentives to encourage healthy behavior, and the ability for consumers to purchase insurance across state lines -- which would increase competition and lead to lower prices. Additionally, small businesses should be able to band together and form health plans, thereby strengthening their purchasing power and ability to negotiate affordable rates. These are just some of the many reforms we could pursue to lower costs and improve coverage -- without massively expanding government.

Two years ago, at the ObamaCare bill signing ceremony, Vice President Biden imparted some additional words of wisdom, noting that, "the classic poet Virgil once said that "the greatest wealth is health.'"

He's right.

At the end of the day, freedom and health are the two most important things for nearly all of us. If we're not free and healthy, we can't enjoy much anything else. And this is precisely why it is so important that we do not allow a massive Washington bureaucracy to substitute its wisdom for that of your family physician. It's why we cannot allow the government to ration care for those in need, or to withhold medicines for those least able to fend for themselves.

Repealing the president's health-care takeover is, in effect, an imperative for all those who truly believe in social justice -- and that is why we must repeal ObamaCare and replace it with effective reforms as soon as possible.

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