EDITORIAL: Medicare case could nix Obamacare

Federal compulsion is un-American

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Otherwise free people suffer “direct, tangible harm” when forced into a government medical system. That’s the argument in a Feb. 11 brief in a court case with direct ramifications for Obamacare. The plaintiffs protest that citizens must enroll in Medicare to collect Social Security benefits for which they paid a lifetime of taxes. The tangible harm is caused because Medicare hampers their ability to secure - with their own resources - the best health care available.

The three plaintiffs in Hall v. Sebelius, including former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, all want to continue private arrangements for health care rather than enroll in Medicare. They don’t want their Medicare taxes back; they just want to forego the benefits. Government said they must collect those benefits if they want to receive Social Security checks.

Last year, Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ordered the government to show what statutory or duly enacted regulatory authority allows it to make such demands. The government failed. The judge also ordered plaintiffs to show how the requirement hurts them. They succeeded. Brian Hall, for instance, no longer has access to his health savings account into which he paid for years. The same goes for John J. Kraus, who wasn’t allowed to continue in the Aetna Health Fund Plan that would have “covered his and his wife’s health care expenses for the rest of their lives.” This coverage provided greater flexibility and choice than Medicare.

The constitutionality of Obamacare’s individual mandate could be implicated here. On Feb. 22, D.C. federal district Judge Gladys Kessler cited preliminary rulings in Hall v. Sebelius to conclude that the mandate is allowable. If Judge Collyer determines the disputed government authority was created out of thin air, it would weaken the foundation of Judge Kessler’s strange decision. The bottom line is government can’t be allowed to compel citizens into economic activity.

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