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Healthcare reform: Does the individual mandate empower or enslave U.S. citizens?

Constitutional showdown In Sunday's Opinion pages, Yale Law School professor Akhil Reed Amar took Judge Roger Vinson to task for declaring "Obamacare" unconstitutional. "When uninsured Connecticut residents fall sick on holiday in California and get free emergency room services, California taxpayers, California hospitals and California insurance policyholders foot the bill. This is an interstate issue, and Congress has power to regulate it," he wrote in Constitutional showdown. He continues, "There is nothing improper in the means that Obamacare deploys. Laws may properly regulate both actions and inactions, and in any event, Obamacare does not regulate pure inaction. It regulates freeloading. Breathing is an action, and so is going to an emergency room on taxpayers' nickel when you have trouble breathing."

No surprise, Amar's Op-Ed created a showdown within a showdown among readers. Excerpts from their debate, with spelling corrected for clarity, appear below.

"Obamacare" infringes on our rights:

"If Congress can order me to do something against my will, I am in a position no better than a slave."
-- Mitchell Young

"Ridiculous. Congress orders the citizenry to do things against their will every day. Do you voluntarily pay income tax?  It is called being a citizen of a country. You do things that are for the public good." -- dan3336

Where do we draw the line?

"There has never before been a Constitutional mandate requiring people to buy a private product or face penalties. As Judge Vinson said in his opinion, eating is also something everyone's involved in and this sets a precedent for Congress, if it wanted to, to require people to buy wheat products at a government-mandated price in order to stabilize costs for farmers or breakfast cereal companies or commercial bakers." -- Rob Miller

"Is this the same constitution where my ancestors were three-fifths of a person?" -- yage202

The individual mandate protects people:

"Thanks for such a refreshing read! It never stops to astonish me that one of the richest countries in the world chooses not to provide for its own people, while sending billions to people like Mubarak for defense. In most other developed countries, there is a centralized system. These systems do not rely on insurance companies who simply sit in the middle skimming money off, and denying service."
-- tedre123

"[I] would also like to remind you that preventative care is relatively CHEAP, but if you ignore the issues for years, and you have no insurance when your cancer blows up, and you get rushed to the hospital, guess who pays for it? Yep, you and I pay for it. Also, since you live in California, how mad are you that the state makes you [directly] buy car insurance? You can thank the Republicans and Mercury Insurance on that one. Of which, I agree, if you cannot cover an accident up to a reasonable level, then no, you should not be allowed to take the risk so I suffer. Not sure how health insurance is much different." -- ucsbcpa

A theory on why conservatives really oppose the individual mandate:

"[T]hey'd rather repair roads they might drive on than repair people they might encounter." -- Oilcan

RELATED:

Editorial: The individual mandate is constitutional

The debate over the 'individual mandate': Stuck in neutral?

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Illustration: Thomas James / For the Los Angeles Times

 

Comments () | Archives (14)

The comments to this entry are closed.

HominusDominus

Interesting selection of comments you chose. I was there and read them all (and again this morning) and I'm trying to figure out why you chose the ones you did.

Matt

Congress HAS compelled citizens to buy products from private vendors: The Militia Act required citizens to purchase guns and ammunition.

Matt

Congress HAS compelled citizens to buy products from private vendors: The Militia Act required citizens to purchase guns and ammunition.

stacitjones

Very Interesting! I just now printed Coupons of my Favorite Brands for free from "Printapons" you can find them online.

Greg Maragos

What will Democrats do if Republicans in the House refuse to fund Obamacare?

glenn grab

If the Democrats had any guts, which they don't, they would pursue a tax-funded completely government-run program.....unfortunately, the would leave the trial lawyers having to sue the government, which is well-nigh impossible, and we know how strong the ambulance-chaser's lobby is!!

Paco Mexicana

GOVERNMENT COULDN'T RUN A SHOE SHINE STAND

ANYONE WHO THINKS THE GOVERNMENT CAN RUN AND DELIVER EFFICIENT HEALTH CARE MUST BE BRAIN DEAD.

Name me one thing the government does well??? Certainly not, welfare, medicar, post office, fannie may, or freddie mac.

LIBERALS THINK THE GOVERNMENT IS THE ANSWER TO ALL THEIR NEEDS. AS THOMAS JEFFERSON SAID, "IF YOU WNAT THE GOVERNMENT TO DO EVERYTHING, THEN YOU MUST GIVE THE GOVERNME EVERYTHING.

I have been a healthcare executive for almost forty years.
I have traveled the globe. I am here to tell you whether it is Canada, Britain, Italy, France, Germany, India, China, etc. IT IS NOT THE ANSWER.

Mayo Clinic will not take Medicare patients, HSS #1 hospital for othopedics does not take Medicare patients.

GOVERNMENT HEALTHCARE IS A FOOLS DREAM.

Paco Mexicana

ASK YOURSELF ONE QUESTION

IF OBAACARE IS SO GOOD, WHY DID CONGRESS EXEMPT ITSELF??????

Even Pelosi, Bawney Frnk, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer know
they would never want such a system for their care.

Washington politicians are hypocrites, they want to tell you what to do, while they do justthe opposite.


AMERICA HAS TO STOP BEING SO STUPID.

Then again Los Angeles has a 44% high school graduation rate

Ron

The Healthcare system in the United States is great as long as you work for the government or you're a Trust Fund baby. My wife and I pay $2479 per month for healthcare since we are over 60. Our small company can’t compete with larger companies if we gave everyone health insurance. We are faced with drawing down our IRA accounts so we can make ends meet. To the GOP I say get a taste of reality and stop catering to the massive insurance lobby.

Impeach obama

Obama can stick his UNCONSTITUTIONAL HC ABORTION WHERE THE SUN DOESN'T SHINE.
--
Remember when America had a REAL President?

Impeach obama

Obama can stick his UNCONSTITUTIONAL HC ABORTION WHERE THE SUN DOESN'T SHINE.
--
Remember when America had a REAL President?

Jim

It's worth considering the argument that our system of private health insurance has a fatal flaw. If someone decides not to have it, they get taken care of anyway, at tax payer expense.

Then the tax payers protest both the taxes AND some sort of control over the people who take advantage of the system.

Jim

Why is it that some point of view says that the government can't do anything right, but these same people have no problem with the government starting a war or two?

Can't have it both ways, guys.

Sports Medicine Las Vegas

very interesting articles!!where we can learn something and to think some sort of ideas..i really appreciated this article..thanks for the info...


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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