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Gary Gronneberg, Fargo, Published July 22 2012

Foe of health care reform has good case – for 1789

American free enterprise is not diminished by an attempt to require all American citizens to have some form of heath care coverage. In theory, if all citizens purchased private health insurance policies, the government would have a limited role in the health care system.

Every citizen cannot afford health care coverage or chooses not to purchase health insurance, just like not purchasing automobile insurance, life insurance or homeowner’s insurance.

The opinion of Chuck Chadwick in the July 15 Forum provides only one side of the story. His concern appears to be that the Affordable Care Act of 2010 is a “national health care … government intervention in the marketplace.” This law is an act of Congress, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama. Five Supreme Court justices agreed the ACA was constitutional (five justices approved the law based on the power to tax, and four of the five justices also approved the law based on the commerce clause).

According to the majority opinion of conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, the ACA “aims to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care.” Justice Roberts further states that individuals not covered by their employer or a government program must obtain coverage and “the means of satisfying this requirement is to purchase insurance from a private company.” Chadwick claims that purchasing insurance from a private company is national health care.

Under Section 8, Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress is given various enumerated powers, including the power to tax and the power to regulate interstate commerce. Congress has no specific enumerated power to provide such services as highways, fire protection, government assistance after natural disasters, electricity, education, telephone, television, Internet access, or “to provide a minimum basic safety net for citizens.” Government involvement in any of these types of activities violates the basic principle of free enterprise established in 1789.

Under free enterprise, the non-enumerated powers should ALL be the responsibility of the individual and the free market economy. Under free enterprise, the government should not provide or regulate any of these activities.

Chadwick concludes: “Freedom, not government, drives American health and prosperity.” I wonder how the millions of poor Americans living during the Depression of the 1930s were healthy and prosperous without government intervention. Even as recently as 2008, I wonder how the rich American financial system would have prospered without government intervention.

Of course, if free enterprise “lifts up the rich and poor alike,” the next time America faces an uncontrolled forest fire, skyrocketing education costs, increasing medical care fees or any natural disaster, the government should not be involved because “entrepreneurs … (will) … create and earn their success” and “those who best serve the consumer … (will) … provide the best product and service.”

Without the opportunity to provide basic medical care to all American citizens, our society is denying the basic principle of our democracy – the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I choose to support affordable health care and live in the year 2012, not 1789.