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Parr: Now entrenched, government health care hard to purge

August 12, 2017

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“The right to health care shall not be infringed.”

Presently, neither that phrase, nor anything even remotely resembling it, can be found in the U.S. Constitution’s 4,400 words. Of course, that is not quite how entitlements work; there is also nothing in the Constitution about Social Security, nor Medicare, Medicaid, the Great Society, or similar government programs.

Not that it ever stopped the left from grossly expanding the federal government’s reach into the lives of Americans.

The Supreme Court, which from time to time has a penchant for seeing rights and powers in the Constitution that nobody else up to that point apparently could find, is unlikely to discover a right to health care, at least in the short term.

But in cases of extreme expansion of federal power, the court of public opinion is arguably at least as important as the legal process. As Ronald Reagan once said, “Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this Earth.” Once our benevolent government has decided it knows best, and creates a compulsory system (don’t forget, the individual mandate is not a tax!), reeling it back in is impossible. Even when such programs require substantial changes to be solvent for the next generation—the generation currently footing the bill—the cries of “Privatization!” and “They’re trying to rob Grandma!” are deafening.

Case in point: Several Republican senators have voiced opposition to every single attempt thus far in the Trump era to repeal and replace, replace, or just repeal Obamacare. These are senators who are indebted to the public’s opposition to Obamacare, if not for their own election, then at least for a Republican-controlled House and Senate.

Ultimately, it is really immaterial whether the right to health care is mandated from on high, or is de facto recognized in a manner similar to other entitlement programs. The result is the same: The government will be required to provide health care. And as with many other things the government does, it will be paid for by some and redistributed to others.

We can at least be honest with ourselves—plenty of individuals want exactly that—the “that” being single-payer health care.

If the government is qualified to provide, as the progressives contend, something of the magnitude of health care, why should the government not provide every other good and service in life that is of lesser importance? What about those things on the same plane of importance: food, shelter, transportation? Ask the Soviets how that went.

There is a fundamental disconnect between a free people and an omnipotent national government. It is an inverse relationship, much like a teeter-totter on a playground. The more one side goes up, the more the other side must go down. Government power must come at the expense of individual liberty.

And yet, as the left has illustrated with the current (and now maybe past) discussions on repealing Obamacare, the go-to argument is that, without a health insurance system in which the federal government is a major player, Americans would cease to have access to quality and affordable health insurance.

Yet, government programs are designed to serve the lowest common denominator. There is no room for flexibility, innovation, individuality or freedom. In this case, like so many others, the left has it exactly backward: It is the government’s meddling that created and perpetuates the problem. More of the same will not solve it.•

Click here to see all of the latest Forefront columns.
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Parr is a student at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis and is treasurer of the Indiana Young Republicans.Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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