If ObamaCare Is Unconstitutional, Then Why Isn’t Medicare?

Some lower courts are ruling ObamaCare unconstitutional. The reason given is that it’s wrong to force the individual to buy a product or service, such as health insurance.

These decisions are all well and good. But the question remains: If it’s wrong for government to force people to buy health insurance, isn’t it equally wrong to force people to pay for others’ Medicaid and Medicare? Why is force wrong in one situation, but not in another?

Many will argue that Medicare is something to which everyone is entitled; therefore it’s not force. This assumes that productive non-retired people, who pay for that program today through payroll taxes, will actually find that program in existence by the time they turn 65. Given the present and growing budget crisis, that’s highly unlikely. But even if these benefits could somehow be guaranteed, by what right does the government force people to purchase Medicare? In a free market, people would be left alone to purchase the medical plan of their choice. Under Medicare, people are forced to purchase that plan whether they prefer another alternative or not. Indeed, the existence of Medicare means there are far fewer private plans than would be available in a free marketplace where no Medicare existed.

Opponents of ObamaCare are right in principle, but they’re on a collision course with their own principles. You can’t say, “Government has no right to force people to buy health insurance,” while at the same time upholding the legitimacy of Medicare, as most opponents of ObamaCare (Tea Party included) routinely do.

Some will reply, “Well, you’re being too ideological.” Well, ideas have consequences. The inconsistency of the ObamaCare opponents will be seized upon by proponents of the law. “If government is permitted to require people to take part in Social Security and Medicare, why can’t government require people to take part in ObamaCare?”

Remember that in an argument between two sides, the more consistent side always wins. It’s true that the opponents of ObamaCare are the “good guys,” meaning that they’re closer to the truth than the bad guys, i.e., the socialists and fascists who passed this law. But it doesn’t matter. The good has more to lose by being inconsistent than the bad. The wrong side can afford to be inconsistent so long as the right side is that way. The only way to defeat the wrong side is for the right side to be consistent.

For example, opponents of ObamaCare might argue, “We’re against all nationalized medicine on principle. Right now, our first priority is to fight ObamaCare. After that, our next goal will be to privatize Medicare and return the practice of medicine to a fully free market, with no coercion whatsoever.”

You’ll never hear anything like this. Instead, the conservatives fight for the need to preserve Medicare, and the like. It’s a losing battle, especially as those programs start to disintegrate (ahead of schedule) right before our very eyes.

Some conservatives have argued against ObamaCare because it guts reimbursement for Medicare. In other words, doctors will get pay cuts in Medicare to pay for ObamaCare, leading many doctors to opt out of Medicare altogether. This is true, and it’s valid to point it out. But it likewise begs the question: If government coverage leads to the need for more government coverage, eventually bankrupting the whole system — isn’t government coverage itself the problem?

It’s important to understand that both Medicare and ObamaCare are fiscally bankrupt precisely because they’re morally bankrupt. What makes them morally bankrupt is the coercion and deception involved in their very existence.

It’s very hard to convince people that programs such as Medicare constitute force. ‘Force?’ most will reply with a glazed stare. ‘Medicare isn’t force. Why, it’s just Medicare.’ They speak of Medicare and Social Security as if these programs were the sun, the moon, or the sky. They’re simply existential givens. But they’re no such thing. For better or worse, they are man-made schemes that require the coercion of a supposedly free people in order to make them ‘work.’

People on both sides of the ObamaCare debate stubbornly refuse to recognize that the coercion of ObamaCare has been with us for many decades now. The coercion and force of government entitlements as we know them must be challenged at the root. Otherwise, nothing will ever change.