As if there weren't enough objectionable parts to the Democrats' government health care bills on Capitol Hill, it now turns out that the plans actively promote racial discrimination. As is often the case, one attempt at creating special favors for racial minorities might make it more likely for those same minorities to be abused.
Sounding the alert on this have been the Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky and Civil Rights Commission member Peter Kirsanow, each writing separately for National Review Online. According to Mr. von Spakovsky, the Senate bill "directs the secretary of health and human services to award federal grants worth billions of dollars to educational institutions that train medical-service providers.
However, 'priority' for federal dollars is to be given only to those institutions offering 'preferential' admissions to underrepresented minorities (according to race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation and religion....). Thus, schools will be unable to compete for essential federal funding unless they adopt admission policies that intentionally and deliberately discriminate."
Furthermore: "The Senate bill even creates a federally funded and administered medical school called the United States Public Health Services Track to 'grant appropriate advanced degrees.' Priority in admissions is to be given to 'students from rural communities and underrepresented minorities.' ('Underrepresented minorities' is liberal code for 'Asians need not apply.') Naturally, other sections of the bill require lots of data collection regarding race, ethnicity, sex, and so on."
And on, and on, and on.
Not only are these provisions morally suspect, but they also fly in the face of recent (and wise) Supreme Court precedent. Even in the one recent case where the high court did allow limited racial preferences, Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, the court went to great lengths to note that "racial classifications, however compelling their goals, are potentially so dangerous that they may be employed no more broadly than the interest demands. Enshrining a permanent justification for racial preferences would offend this fundamental equal protection principle."
The health care bill is not so limited.
Other cases, such as Gratz v. Bollinger (2003) and Ricci v. DeStefano (2009), make clear that racial preferences by government are presumptively illegal. The Ricci case was the one in which the court ruled in favor of white firefighters who previously had been denied promotions that all agreed they had earned. Although not a direct constitutional challenge, it succinctly stated the guiding principle: "No individual should face workplace discrimination based on race."
Yet the Senate is now poised to build discrimination into the government health care system.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kirsanow reports on another strange part of the Senate bill: "Section 2046 (b)(3) grants the secretary of HHS the discretion to waive substantial penalties (i.e., fines of up to $300,000 and debarment from federal programs) for failing to report elder abuse and other crimes committed against residents of long-term care facilities that serve racial and ethnic minorities. Obviously, this could increase the probability that residents of such facilities won't receive the same level of protection as residents of nursing homes that serve non-minority populations."
In other words, in the name of protecting minority owners, the bill provides fewer protections for minority patients. That's obnoxious.
All of these race-based provisions ought to be removed. They make an awful bill something even worse: They make it absolutely immoral.