Friday, August 28, 2009

Some Random Thoughts On Health Care Reform As I Print Out Stuff

So I have been reading here and there, from the left to the right, about the proposed health care reform. And here is what I am sure about: I am really, really confused.

And I'm an educated person. As far as I can tell, there is no true proposal by President Obama. It seems like there are lots of wishes and desires, but no set of proposals down on paper currently being debated (or scheduled to be debated) by Congress. And no, his campaign plan does not count. The Obama Administration has not gotten someone to submit that as a bill to Congress.

I am pretty sure that no final plan is ready right now. And that is particularly worrisome. How am I supposed to know what I should support if the target keeps moving. Is the plan to go single payer? That's what everyone was saying when this mess began. Is it a a government plan which will compete with private plans? I know that the insurance companies fear this one. Is it a healthcare co-op plan? And if so, what the hell is a government sponsored co-op plan other than a single payer health care plan?

See why I'm confused.

The one thing I am sure about is that under any of the guises currently being bandied about, it will cover illegal immigrants. This is an anathema to the conservatives on the right (just like the specter that the a health care reform will mean that women have their abortions covered just like men get their viagra covered). However, absent a constitutional amendment, I am not sure how any plan would not include coverage for illegal immigrants.

Now, how many of you out there have actually read the Constitution of the United States? All of it. Seriously, you should. Its not that long. We have in it an amendment called the 14th Amendment. It states:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.
Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Now take a look at Section 1. It's interesting to note that at first it specifically talks about groups of people who are considered citizens. But in the second half, it talks only about persons. Not citizens. Big distinction. Was it intended? Arguably yes. In fact, the Supreme Court has read it that way in the past.

In 1886, Justice Matthews wrote, in the opinion for Yick Wo v. Hopkins,

The fourteenth amendment to the constitution is not confined to the protection of citizens. It says: "Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." These provisions are universal in their application, to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction, without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality.
Justice Matthews puts it very plainly there. And this interpretation has been upheld in later cases. This includes the Plyler v. Doe case, decided in 1982, which held that public schools would educate illegal aliens just as they would other citizens. Although the court was split 5-4 in deciding for Doe, the court was unanimous in deciding that the 14th Amendment applied. The split was over the level of scrutiny.

It appears established in the law (both black letter and by stare decisis) pretty much that the 14th Amendment means that all person cannot be discriminated against. Illegal aliens are people. Therefore, if health care reform is passed, its applicable to all persons, citizens and non-citizens alike.

So can we please argue about something else when it comes to health-care reform? Unless someone wants to amend the 14th Amendment that is.

Alot of this was sparked by reading James Taranto's daily Best of the Web column a few weeks ago in the


Colby said...

It's funny. I've been looking forward to your Cliffs Notes on this reform as I count on you to break things down for me. Anyway, I was listening to the Press Secretary talk recently regarding Obama's plans, and you are so right. There's nothing concrete. All I heard was, "the President hopes, the President would like to see, in the President's ideal plan, we would see." Garbage. I heard no plan.

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