Jane Hamsher has become one of the more studied and thoughtful voices on all things political, and especially on "health care reform." Here's a small quote:
FDL Statement on the Passage of the Health Care Bill
But this is not health care reform, and the task of providing health care that Americans can afford is still before us. Too much was sacrificed to corporate interests in the sausage-making process. Rather than address the fundamental flaws in our health care system, we applied a giant band-aid. This health care bill does not come close to doing all that needs to be done to meet the needs of our citizens and our businesses as we retool our economy for the 21st century.
...(skipped bit)...Never before has the government mandated that its citizens pay directly to private corporations almost as much as they do in federal taxes, especially when those corporations have been granted unregulated monopolies.
Her whole statement is worthy of a deep reading.
One fundamental thing that has to be observed is that Obama, and the whole Democratic party with him, have utterly caved to corporate interests. As it now stands, this "health care reform" is possibly the biggest corporate giveaway in U.S. history! "Health care reform" now competes with the other historic corporate giveaway that was recently called TARP and a whole host of other things when we bailed out the banks and Wall Street. Don't our public servants ever tire of giving money away to corporate welfare queens?
"Heath care reform" must now be placed in quotes because it is so far from the ordinary meaning of that phrase.
But I have a very slender hope for "health care reform." I believe that this kind of legal requirement to contract with a private health insurance company may very well not pass Constitutional scrutiny. Why not?
Well, let's consider the most obvious parallel: automobile liability insurance as is demanded of many motorists throughout the union. The main thing to know about automobile liability insurance is that you don't need it if you don't drive. No one can arbitrarily force you to buy it. You trigger the requirement by the intent to drive. So, if you want to drive, you need automobile liability insurance. Some states even offer their own insurance.
The requirement to purchase health care insurance under our new "health care reform" is a simple legal requirement: you do it because it is now required. There is no trigger - you don't have to want something special to require it. You simply have to get it. And right now that means buying it from a private corporate entity. You are now legally required by virtue of being alive and a U.S. citizen to contract with a private, significantly unregulated, monopolistic corporate entity to buy health care insurance.
Yeah, that may not fly.
And therein lies my hope! The fact that it probably won't pass muster means that the legal requirement as it stands will fail. When it fails the most likely remedy is to require you to buy into a government run scheme that will offer the same protection. Something like single payer.
No one has yet won any significant legal challenge to the notion that the government can make you pay a tax for the benefits it provides to everyone as a whole.
So, I don't think they can make you buy it from a corporation, but I do think they can make you buy it from the government itself. They'll just call it a tax.