Outside the U.S. Supreme Court during the contentious confirmation process for now Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Students for Life and SFLAction activists kept vigil dressed in judges’ robes in stark contrast to the self-proclaimed ladies of the fictional “Handmaid’s Tale.”
Costume choices aside, abortion was on many minds, but inside at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, health care was the topic of choice. This month, as the Supreme Court engaged in another Obamacare review, it’s important to look at just what the mess that became law can do to families like mine for whom pre-existing conditions are a way of life. With those who drafted the law and who call for Obamacare’s expansion poised to take power, the stakes are higher than any one court case.
As a mother of four, with two children who have the lifetime condition of cystic fibrosis, I know it’s important to safeguard people’s health care. The problem is that government-run health care has a track record of picking winners and losers, and those who are most sick or who need long-term care lose.
Obamacare was an abuse of governmental power. It incentivized states to provide funds for abortion and life-ending drugs and devices. It cost people health care plans that they wanted and decided there would be pain for those who did not.
Nuns went to court — twice — asking to be excused. Hobby Lobby, a closely held company, won at the Supreme Court for the violation of their conscience rights after saying they would pay for birth control, but not abortion-causing products deliberately mislabeled as contraception. Numerous lawsuits ensued, as reluctant states and others fought against the force of law being applied to medicine.
When it last faced constitutional scrutiny, Chief Justice Roberts saved the government-run health care “on the grounds that the individual mandate could be read as a constitutional trigger for a tax rather than an unconstitutional fine punishing Americans for not purchasing a certain product.”
The justices heard arguments about the validity of that law which now forces a purchase without any penalty, though that could change in a Biden administration. “Suppose Congress passed a law requiring every American who lives in a house to fly an American flag in front of the house,” Justice Kavanaugh noted. “It’s a forced acquisition of an unwanted good or service.”
Not discussed, and more important to people like me whose children have life-time conditions, is the kind of care that government-run plans offer, an issue of vital concern as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have pledged to support the government-run health care plans known as Medicare for All.
Consider that Mr. Biden recently picked Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel — an architect of Obamacare — to lead his coronavirus task force, handling a public health issue that dramatically impacts the elderly.
In a controversial article in The Atlantic, Dr. Emanuel said that he hoped to die at 75 because “here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss.” Will he apply that same thinking to his plans on behalf of a 78-year-old Biden? What about to the rest of us?
Government-run health care plans prosper by taxing people to pay for care handed out by the government to those selected.
In Britain, for example, the government chooses who lives and who dies by evaluating the “value for money” of any drugs or treatment. “As reported in The Atlantic, “If an intervention is deemed too expensive, even if it has some health benefits, such as prolonging life or easing pain, it will not be made available to the public, because that money can be better spent elsewhere.”
That policy is clear when it comes to a drug, orkambi, which has provided my son real relief and added years to his life. Yet in the U.K. last year, a 600 years’ supply was allowed to expire because the government refused to negotiate over the cost of the drugs.
Such deadly decisions are also made with a formula called QALY, quality-adjusted life years, which equals one year of life in perfect health. Here in the United States, QALY is championed by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), a self-appointed health-care-cost watchdog that likes to calculate the cost of keeping people alive. And many health care companies in the United States are paying attention.
During the COVID-19 crisis, health care experts actively talked about limiting treatment for people like my children with cystic fibrosis, should they get the coronavirus, which was terrifying to my family.
So much conversation about Obamacare and Medicare for All centers around the idea that the government will offer something of value. During Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings, Sen. Cory Booker asked the judge “can you understand the fear” of losing health care coverage. The mother of seven with one child with special needs indicated that she did.
But as a potentially new administration takes office, my fear is that the coverage I’ll be forced into won’t cover anything at all. Government-run care equals rationed care equals no care for the most vulnerable.
For those of us who deal daily with long-term medical conditions, the question isn’t whether the Supreme Court will allow Obamacare to continue, but what will happen if we are forced to accept what it offers now that its architects seem to be back in power.
• Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America and SFLAction. Follow her @KristanHawkins or subscribe to her podcast, Explicitly Pro-Life.