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People’s health shouldn’t be fuel for political pandering

Staff Report • Jun 29, 2012 at 1:05 PM

While most Americans were still trying to digest complexities of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, some politicians like our own U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st District, were quick to issue statements condemning the court’s actions and vowing to repeal the law.

It would have been refreshing had Roe and other Washington, D.C., insiders had at least waited until the ink had dried on the decision before they began looking to score political points.

Instead of pondering the meaning of the court’s 5-4 decision in regards to the well-being of his constituents, Roe issued a statement pandering to the far-right element of his party. Instead of offering ideas as to how to make the law better for his constituents, Roe was repeating the same talking points offered earlier in the day by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

“If we allow its full implementation, our health care decisions will forever be in the hands of Washington bureaucrats,” Roe said.

Continuing to rattle swords in this way is unproductive and serves no purpose other than to feed a ravenous political beast that needs to be placed on a strict diet.

The congressman also pledged to do all he can “to repeal the law and address critical health care challenges that face our nation with reforms that lower health care costs.”

It’s curious, however, that Roe and others opposed to the Affordable Care Act remain vague when it comes to their vision for health care reform.

Perhaps it’s because there’s not much difference between their ideas for health care reform and those of President Obama. Despite all the partisan rhetoric to the contrary, the Affordable Care Act is basically a stilted version of the Massachusetts health care plan — which also includes an individual mandate — that was created by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney when he was governor of that state.

As for Roe’s argument that government shouldn’t require Americans to purchase health insurance, we must point out (as Jonathan Rauch does in this month’s issue of The Atlantic) that the government currently requires hospitals to treat people who don’t have health insurance and who don’t pay.

It’s no surprise then to see the Tennessee Hospital Association issue a statement Thursday saying the organization “believes the court’s action is an important step toward meaningful health reform.”

We agree, and we hope Roe’s constituents will let him know they think so too.

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