The Affordable Care Act has been criticized for forcing Americans to buy insurance, which critics claim provides the federal government unlimited authority to regulate interstate commerce. Though I recognize that this decision will have major implications regarding the extent of federal authority, I find it interesting that 26 states are challenging the Affordable Care Act, concerned that such matters should be regulated at the local level.
While states give the impression that they want to limit the powers of central government and retain the rights of the people (which are represented by none other than our local governments), I wondered if our states are in any condition to implement reasonable health care laws. My curiosity led me to investigate potentially corrupt activities that deem our states “unhealthy,” or perhaps just unfit, to take on such legislative matters.
The Associated Press recently reported that the healthcare lobbyists in Massachusetts spent over 51 million dollars in the past 5 years. Some suggest there’s a reason for opulent spending: Russell Crook, a Business Professor at the University of Tennessee, reported in The Journal of Management that corporations benefit from being politically active, with company performance directly correlated to their political involvement.
If spending money to make yourself known in the political arena is good for business, it’s no wonder big businesses want a way to make their issues known, and the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is just the vehicle to do this.
ALEC is an organization that claims to be “nonpartisan,” most likely because they are willing to support any party financially, so long as the party supports their financial interests as well. Do their interests align with your interests? Perhaps you should be the judge of that.
ALEC has boasted its influence in legislation, and this influence was quickly recognized in Governor Scott Walker’s recent health legislation – bills that closely depicted ALEC’s brochure entitled, The State Legislators Guide to Repealing ObamaCare (AKA Affordable Care Act).
Don’t think this is a problem? Maybe you would if you realized that critics accuse ALEC of accepting funds from a slew of big businesses, notably – in the healthcare sector – Takeda Pharmaceutical, Allergan, Bayer, United Healthcare, Wellpoint, Eli Lilly and Company, and Merck. Another ALEC publications is titled, Five Reasons Why Pharmaceutical Marketing Helps, Not Hurts, Patients, a clear indication that Merck spent their money wisely.
Walker isn’t the only governor to recognize the value of having friends in high places. Let’s not forget that while Rick Perry was the governor of Texas, the pharmaceutical corporation, Merck, provided his campaign with more than $30,000. Support he reciprocated by mandating that young girls take Gardasil, the HPV vaccine distributed by Merck. Turns out, his closest advisor was employed by the company.
In 2011, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, received $110,000 from healthcare professionals and insurance agencies. Though the governor’s spokesman assured constituents that lobbyists would not benefit from these contributions, Crook’s report suggests otherwise.
While states express concern that the Affordable Care Act will provide the central government with overreaching powers, 9 US states enforce laws that make it legal to withhold medical information from women to deter abortions. Such laws seem to be even more deleterious than the Affordable Care Act, at least, if you’re a woman.
At a time when state laws are just as questionable as federal laws, Justices should keep in mind that they should serve the interests of the people. The economic environment that incited the Affordable Care Act has resulted in expensive healthcare that is often unobtainable; conditions that have left 50 million Americans uninsured.
Maybe our skeptical Supreme Court will keep in mind that mandatory participation in the federal Social Security program never resulted in the loss of freedom that critics claimed would ensue, but rather a financial safeguard provided to protect Americans in their retirement years.