Yesterday Dean Harris from UNC’s public health school laid out his argument – and pointed out the irony of the current anti-health reform lawsuits:
On the surface, opponents of health reform are arguing that the law violates the Constitution on the grounds that it is an unprecedented expansion of federal government power. In reality, opponents are taking the position that Congress did not go far enough in expanding federal authority over the health system to meet the requirements of the Constitution. If Congress and Obama had created a public health insurance system, operated by the federal government and funded by taxation, that system clearly would have been constitutional.
In fact, we already have a congressionally approved public system of tax-supported health insurance called Medicare and a public system of tax-supported cash benefits called Social Security.
Harris’s argument is persuasive and brings back an important point often lost in all the rhetoric around these lawsuits: the new national health reform law is just about the most conservative method of changing our health system in a way that will actually cover almost everyone. This defines the intellectual desert of the “repeal and replace” crowd. There is not a single “replacement” out there for this legislation that will cover almost everyone other than expanding Medicare to everyone or a similar all-payer proposal. It really is that simple.