Editorial: States should have Obamacare opt out choice

A Republican effort to allow states to opt out of Obamacare has begun in the U.S. Senate, adding another front to the war waged against the nation’s sweeping new health care law.

We prefer the finality of a Supreme Court ruling that the law is unconstitutional. Governors of 28 states Wednesday urged President Barack Obama to seek immediate high court review of the health care law so they can know how to proceed.

Until the Supreme Court rules, we are happy to have Obamacare challenged and mitigated in as many venues as possible. The American people were opposed to the 2,700-page law when Congress rushed approval last year. Opposition hasn’t waned.

More importantly, Obamacare is a massive over-reach that promises to do more harm than good, while bringing one-sixth of the U.S. economy under direct government control.

Despite U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling in January that the law is unconstitutional, the administration still plans to implement its many facets, including a mandate that everyone must either buy insurance or pay a tax to the government.

The opt-out bill would permit states to forego the individual mandate, as well as another mandate that businesses provide government-approved health insurance, a mandate forcing expansion of Medicaid programs and mandates defining qualified health plans and establishing government regulation of them.

Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., vowed “one way or the other” that the upcoming continuing resolution to fund the government through fiscal 2011 will deny funding to Obamacare. Two types of funding for the law could be denied: Direction appropriations and discretionary spending not specified in the legislation.

Ultimately, the constitutionality of the individual mandate and, perhaps, the rest of the law probably will be determined by the Supreme Court. Allowed to stand, government authority would be expanded from the limited, enumerated powers envisioned by the founders to virtually unlimited powers that seriously infringe on individual rights.

We agree with Vinson, who said the individual mandate exceeds Congress’ legitimate authority to regulate interstate commerce. Such power, said the judge, would mean “Congress could require that everyone above a certain income threshold buy a General Motors automobile — now partially government-owned — because those who do not buy GM cars … are adversely impacting commerce and a taxpayer-subsidized business.”

There is much wrong with Obamacare besides the individual mandate. In 2014 it would expand Medicaid to include Americans earning 33 percent above the poverty line, increasing government aid by 25 percent. Many states already are considering Medicaid (called Medi-Cal in California) cuts because of runaway costs.

Even the Obama administration acknowledged the harm of another provision requiring companies to submit individual tax forms for all purchases exceeding $600, which Congress repealed last week. So far, more than 700 entities have been granted waivers on a piecemeal, arbitrary basis to exempt them from aspects of the law, raising questions about Obamacare’s practicality and the specter of political favoritism.