Organization Trends

The 28th Amendment: protecting the right to health care and health care insurance

I propose an amendment to protect Americans’ right to health care.

“Congress shall make no law abridging the right to obtain health care or health care insurance, or imposing a tax or other penalty for the failure to obtain health care or health care insurance.”

Such an amendment would protect a right that Americans have anyway, under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, the catchall provisions protecting all rights held by free citizens circa 1789 or later. However, a new amendment is necessary because the political class has refused to recognize the right to healthcare.

Yes, healthcare is a right.

But, as Bill Clinton might say, that depends on what the meaning of “right” is.

A right is an aspect of life in which the government cannot intervene. For example,

the Freedom of Religion protected by the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from either establishing a religion (i.e., creating a state religion such as the Church of England) or prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

[The amendment refers to “Congress” doing this, but remember that, under the Constitution, only Congress can enact federal laws, so the provision amounts to a blanket prohibition on the creation of such laws by the federal government. Yes, I am aware that President Obama, who brags about being a law professor despite the fact that he was never a law professor, claims that the President can create laws without the consent of Congress. I will now give his argument the respect it deserves: BWAHAHAHA.]

Just as the right of Freedom of Religion does not obligate the government (taxpayers, that is) to buy you a church, and the right of Freedom of the Press does not obligate the government to buy you a printing press, the right to healthcare does not obligate the government to buy you healthcare. Rather, the right to healthcare means that you can obtain healthcare, or insurance for healthcare, in any way you wish without the involvement of government.

Even “professor” Barack Obama understands this concept, apparently. In a 2001 interview, he complained about it.

The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.

Don’t believe he said that? Here’s the tape:

By “negative liberties,” Obama didn’t mean “negative” in the sense of “bad,” such as in the term “negative review.” He meant “negative” in the sense that the Constitution carves out areas of life that are outside the control of government. Again, the “rights” in the Bill of Rights are precisely these carve-outs.

For years, the Left has worked to confuse people about the meaning of the term “right.” President Franklin Roosevelt spoke in his 1941 State of the Union address of the “four freedoms,” which were Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. The first was from the Constitution and the second an abridged version of what’s in the Constitution (Freedom of Worship does not include the right to convert others); the last two are the sort of so-called positive rights that, the Left believes, justify the welfare state.

The twisting of the concept of rights that FDR put forth in his “four freedoms” speech was carried forward by his widow, Eleanor Roosevelt, in her work at the United Nations. The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) uses this twisted version. (Remember that the United Nations was originally intended to institutionalize the victory of the Allies in World War II—to put them in charge of the world. That’s why, to this day, the five major WWII allies have veto power. The U.S. and the USSR were the Big Two among those allies, which means that the Universal Declaration had to represent a compromise between the concepts of rights held by the Americans and the mass-murdering Soviets.)

Regarding healthcare, the federal government’s involvement came largely through the back door. During World War II, the government imposed wage-and-price controls. One way that employers could get around the controls and give pay hikes to employees was to provide additional benefits such as health insurance. Unions liked this because they could claim credit with their members. And the politics of the time dictated that the benefits would not be taxed as income, which strongly encouraged the expansion of employer-provided coverage. In the old days, when most people spent their working lives with the same employer, this system worked reasonably well, but when people started flitting from employer to employer during their working lives, the system began to break down. Lose your job or quit your job, and you could lose your insurance coverage, or your new coverage could be limited due to a condition that developed since you got your old insurance.

Meanwhile, state governments imposed thousands of mandates, requirements that health insurance policies cover this or that (chiropractic services, acupuncture, circumcision, etc. etc. etc.). The mandates helped drive up the cost of health insurance. If people could have purchased health insurance across state lines, from companies that weren’t affected by the mandates of other states, the cost of the mandates would have been limited. But Congress blocked this, presumably to protect the special interests that had put the mandates in place.

Obamacare, which was sold to the public as “reform,” takes the problems in the healthcare system and makes them far, far worse. Now, men and 60-year-old women are required to purchase contraceptive coverage and people without children are required to purchase pediatric dental coverage. Young people are required to subsidize older people, suburban people to subsidize urbanites, non-drug addicts to subsidize drug addicts, non-alcoholics to subsidize alcoholics, and so on ad nauseum.

How to fix it? With the 28th Amendment, prohibiting Congress from abridging people’s right to healthcare. People would be able to purchase any healthcare plan from any insurance company or healthcare provider, without the interference of federal politicians and bureaucrats. Now that’s real reform.

Dr. Steven J. Allen

A journalist with 45 years’ experience, Dr. Allen served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton and as senior researcher for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. He earned a master’s…
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