Ellmers: Supreme Court Should Choose to Protect Freedom for the Future

Posted March 23, 2012 at 12:17pm

Where do you go when you get sick? For millions of Americans, their trust is placed in the hands of their local health care providers — doctors, nurses and hospitals. We all rely on these dedicated professionals for our care, treatment and lifesaving medicines. But if the president’s health care law is allowed to stand, our future will be at the mercy of the federal government.

Today, the Supreme Court will begin reviewing President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul to determine whether any portion of the law violates the Constitution. Coincidentally, new cost projections for the law have nearly doubled to $1.76 trillion. The court is considering the individual mandate — a fundamental piece of the law that requires all Americans to either buy health insurance or suffer fines and penalties by the government.

I cannot overstate the seriousness of this case and what it means for our country’s future. At stake are the freedoms and liberties that have made our nation a beacon of hope and the model of human achievement. If this law is allowed to stand, it will create a dangerous precedent and rob future generations of their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

For several decades, the costs of providing these services have grown exponentially as people live longer lives and cutting-edge research continues to produce miraculous drug treatments. Without addressing these costs, the industry continued forward and in some cases exploited its own failures.

As a nurse, I have seen the wasteful practices and bureaucratic inefficiencies of our health care system firsthand and know the problems inherent in the industry. With the price tag for medical treatments and care continuing to grow, there remains a desperate need to streamline procedures and clamp down on the frivolous practices that are driving costs out of control. This is the sort of reform that should have been the focus of the health care debate. Instead, we were left with a government takeover and billions of dollars unaccounted for.

The president and his Democratic colleagues view health insurance as a fundamental right, one that should be provided to the public for little or no cost. However, as we have seen with all entitlement programs, once they are created, they grow and morph into taxpayer-funded spending sprees.

Our health care system is far from perfect — few things in life are. What matters, however, is how we make it better. Unfortunately, this was not the intention of the Obama administration.

To pay for this overhaul, Obama created a grand bargain with the health care companies: force all Americans to have insurance and employers to provide it, thereby generating millions of new customers for the insurance industry. At the time, liberal proponents maintained that with this new overhaul, the reforms would make this more affordable each year after the law went into effect. But now, only two years after its passage, the price tag has nearly doubled.

Each month we get new evidence as to the true cost of this social experiment. In September 2009, the president announced that his health care plan would cost $900 billion over 10 years. Earlier this month, the Congressional Budget Office came out with a new report on cost projections. The report notes that the true cost will nearly double to $1.76 trillion within the same time period. Furthermore, the gross cost of coverage provisions in the law (not counting partial offsets) will be $1.496 trillion over the next 10 years — $50 billion more than the CBO had estimated only a year ago.

This is the health care system we are forced to accept in the brave new world of Obamacare — one that promises equal entitlement of coverage in exchange for government control, bankruptcy and unaccountable bureaucrats deciding your future. This is not about making our citizens healthier and protecting them from harm. Rather, Obamacare is a redistribution. Its primary objective is to take health care decisions away from physicians and hospitals and place them in the hands of the federal government.

When government overreaches in the name of universal privilege, as it has in this case, there is no containment to the power it can wield, much less the demands on the public purse. In such a system everyone loses. As we’re seeing already — taxes rise, deficits soar, economic growth slows and, ultimately, sustenance for some comes on the shoulders of others.

The Supreme Court will face a crucial decision. It’s a choice between the freedom of our past and the ability to protect it for the future. It all comes down to this.

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) was a registered nurse for more than two decades before being elected to Congress in 2010.