Opposition to Hobby Lobby Decision Highlights Problem With Mandates


Following the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision, one of the key talking points that emerged from enraged opponents of the ruling was: “My boss shouldn’t be involved in my health care decisions.” California State Senate candidate Sandra Fluke says on her official website that such a perspective is “common sense.”

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An Ohio Democrat is introducing a “Not My Boss’s Business Act” in the state legislature. Like Fluke, she is tapping into a deeply held American belief that we should be able to make important decisions like health care choices on our own.

Lost in all the buzz is that the same attitude underlies much of the conservative opposition to the health care law. Conservatives don’t think the government should be making their health care decisions for them.

The basic attitude of most Americans is that neither the government nor businesses should make important health care or health insurance decisions. These things are so important that each individual should be in control of his or her own situation. It’s something to be decided after consultation with family and friends, medical professionals and others.

That’s why the individual mandate has always been among the most-hated pieces of the health care law. It simply seems un-American to have somebody else decide these issues for us.

As written, President Barack Obama’s health care law forces tens of millions of people to buy more insurance than they need or want. It forces young Americans to overpay so they can subsidize older Americans. It also requires employers to pay more for health insurance, leaving less money for workers’ pay. People without children are forced to pay for pediatric care. The list could go on and on. It just doesn’t make any sense.

The argument used by Obama and others to justify the mandate is that society at large gets stuck picking up the tab for the uninsured who have an accident or catastrophic illness. In fairness, as the president says, any one of us might have an auto accident today. Somebody else might find out they have cancer.

When people get such bad news and don’t have insurance, the rest of us really do pay the bill.

But that doesn’t justify the government mandating excessive insurance coverage. To protect individuals and society from such devastating medical bills, all that is required is a catastrophic care insurance plan. That plan would be a whole lot more affordable than what the president mandates. Obviously, many people would buy more than the minimum coverage. But it should be their choice, not the government’s.

It’s perhaps too much to hope that liberals who don’t want businesses to make health care decisions for them will recognize their common ground with conservatives who don’t want government making those choices. It’s equally unlikely that conservatives will see the political opportunity.

This is a situation that calls for a skilled leader ready to solve a problem rather than score political points. Build on the deeply embedded American belief that individuals should make their own choices and scale back the mandate to minimal levels.

Unfortunately, in America today we have a surplus of politicians and a lack of leaders.

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