As Obamacare continues to reveal itself as an economic and policy disaster, it strikes me that in undoing this healthcare mess, we are not following the path forged for us by the Framers of the Constitution.
For them, the overarching, driving concern was the protection of the liberties of the nation’s citizens from the intrusions of an excessively powerful government. Translated to health care, this would mean protecting patients and their doctors from government interference in their most private and personal dealings.
The Framers accomplished this by creating a national government of only specific and enumerated powers and prohibited from directly regulating the actions of the American people. This latter authority was retained by the states, and specifically not given to the federal government.
So, under this strategy, what would the nation’s health care system look like?
In a truly American health care system, the responsibility for funding one’s medical care would fall squarely upon the treated individual. In cases where the cost of receiving treatment became excessive, the individual would be aided by his or her family, local churches, and community organizations dedicated to helping those who couldn’t help themselves.
More importantly, healthcare would be delivered in a society where God and worship played a central role in human interaction. And no, not because the government demanded it, but because the people spontaneously shared this unyielding resolve in a state where an environment encouraging public worship existed and the family was viewed as society’s foundational building block. It was a milieu where people were continuously reminded of their direct relationship with God and of His greatest commandment; that each person love God with all his might and that he love his neighbor as he does himself.
If the health care system needed to be more formalized so that hospitals and health care could be regulated or a risk-diverting network could be implemented, then such a structure would be generated and executed by the state, not by the federal government. In fact, if the Constitution were properly interpreted, the courts would hold that the federal government was prohibited from directing the states on creating, implementing, or administering a health care program, nor could it tax the people directly for the purpose of creating a health care insurance company.
Other than Dr. Benjamin Rush who voiced his concern for the potential of healthcare being used as a tool in support of a dictatorial regime, it is likely that the Founders gave little thought to the design of the new nation’s health care system. Not only was it orders beyond their primary concern of building a functional system of government, but they would have clearly maintained that such was not the role of the new federal government.
If asked, the Framers would have undoubtedly agreed that the solution to the nation’s health care challenges lied not in the acts of politicians, but in the moral compass provided to the People by their Creator and in the unyielding pledge that each and every person had instinctively made to his or her neighbor through his or her faith in God. It is within these concepts that the true solutions to our health care woes lie, not in the machinations conceived by politicians or bureaucrats.
Hopefully, we as a nation will recall and apply these self-evident truths before we irreparably tarnish our Great Experiment.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Federalist Pages.