Center for Community and Economy Newsletter – March 15, 2012

1. Obamacare and the Supreme Court: The Legal Case of Our Lives (Literally)

By Derek Monson

By an interesting coincidence, the Obama administration released its Obamacare blueprint for the states recently, just a few weeks before the United States Supreme Court hears arguments about the constitutionality of Obamacare. Over three days, the court will hear a combined six hours of oral arguments from both sides about the constitutionality (or unconstitutionality) ofvarious aspects of the law, such as the mandate for individuals to purchase health insurance.

The impacts and implications of the Supreme Court’s decision for communities, for the economy, and for the cause of freedom will be tremendous and far-reaching. For one, the decision will likely determine whether the federal government’s constitutional power to regulate economic activity is limited, a perspective that the Supreme Court used to take regularly when Sutherland Institute namesake George Sutherland sat on the court. More specifically, the court will determine whether Congress can compel individuals and families to purchase goods or services, or if its regulator power is more limited.

Those arguing the latter have accurately described Obamacare as a “power grab” by the federal government. If Congress can compel individuals and families in Utah and elsewhere to buy health insurance because the need for health care is not voluntary, why couldn’t they compel people to purchase an American-made car next time GM needs a bailout because travel is an involuntary need as well? The need to eat is also involuntary, so couldn’t Congress also “reasonably” compel everyone to purchase specific types or brands of food? After all, Americans’ and Utahns’ dietary habits are certainly putting burdens on society, just like increasing health care costs, by influencing rates of obesity and diabetes.

In short, if Obamacare is ruled as being constitutional by the Supreme Court, freedom will have lost much of its substance for both individuals and families. Economic freedom will only exist until the federal government finds a reason to compel you to use your income to purchase something else that policymakers think you should have.

Further, if Obamacare is found to be constitutional, the government will have significantly more influence over how Utahns care for their own and their families’ health. A primary consideration of every medical decision will be whether it is “government approved” or not (via mandates on insurance coverage or on medical standards).

Clearly, this is a momentous decision from the Supreme Court. Our lives may depend on it.

The author, Derek H. Monson, is director of public policy at Sutherland Institute. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University, where he earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in Economics and Political Science. Mr. Monson has authored several reports on Utah public policy, includingTransparency in Government – Understanding Why Utah’s New Transparency Law Facilitates Good Government and The Myth of the Silver Bullet: A Comprehensive Approach to Teacher Incentive Pay.


2. Capitol Daily Memo: The Facts on SB 208-Health Care Compact

By Derek Monson

SB 208 – which was passed by the Utah Senate and House during this year’s legislative session – would make Utah a member of the Health Care Compact, an interstate compact that would restore authority and responsibility for health care regulation to Utah and other member states, and it would provide the funds to the states to fulfill that responsibility.

In other words, Utah would have the power to suspend and supersede any federal health care regulation, including for Medicaid and Medicare, but excluding those for Native Americans and those provided by the federal Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

SB 208 is now awaiting the governor’s signature.

Click here to learn more at Sutherland Daily.