What Will Be Our Healthcare Legacy?

I was born in a country in which the government provides health care for its citizens. The nationalised system in the United Kingdom is not perfect; many people complain about it but, for the most part, people seem comfortable with the idea that their taxes go towards ensuring that nobody will lose a lifetime of savings due to illness. Since 1948 it has been considered, quite simply, part of the societal contract.  Though I’ve lived in the United States for quite some time, I’ll admit that it is still a challenge for me to comprehend that this country, one of the world’s largest industrialised nations, has a healthcare system that is based on making a profit. *…Waiting for the crowd to start screaming ‘BURN THE SOCIALIST’!! in 5…4…3…2…*

Other than knowing that all citizens can receive medical care when necessary, one of the many great things about having a long-established national healthcare plan is that it is long past time for challenges to the legality of that system to be presented. Here in the U.S., however, not only are there challenges as to whether or not the law itself (in part or as a whole) is legal but there is talk about leaders in the law-making community meeting behind the scenes with the very people who are challenging the healthcare reform law. Recently, the Supreme Corporate Court agreed to hear what is considered to be a strong challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the 2010 law that significantly overhauled the U.S. healthcare system. Whether we can agree or not on the law itself shouldn’t we all have a problem with Supreme Court justices being honoured by members of the law firm that will present the case against the ACA before the Supreme Court?

Why isn’t Justice Clarence Thomas a.k.a. Scalia’s sock puppet recusing himself from taking part in this decision?  That man is SO suspect!  Shouldn’t his wife, Ginny Thomas’ repeated  activities with her tea bag wearing friends connections be enough to cloud his decisions?  And is Justice Scalia Clarence Thomas’ puppeteer really able to be neutral in this case?  I’m sure some will say the same about Justice Elena Kagan; she worked with the Obama administration prior to her Supreme Court nomination so she was in a position to advocate for the healthcare reform law.   Fair enough – the question still stands:  How can they possibly give an unbiased opinion and determine the constitutionality of this law?

I’ll put aside, for now, how amusing it is to hear the cries of  ‘socialist!’, ‘communist!’ and ‘anti-capitalist!!’ when change is proposed by the left when those same actions taken by the right are considered good for the country.  I’ll also put aside how ridiculous it seems that we see presidential candidates who were for the insurance mandate before they ok, mostly Mitt Romney were against it.  It’s funny not “ha ha” but “ha ha hell” to see right wing loonies groups in such opposition to the health insurance mandate — knowing that they fully supported it when it was their idea.  But, back on point, right now a bigger question is why are the not so Supreme Court justices exempt from the rules of ethics in the Code of Conduct to which all other judges are subjected?  Why are they able to hobknob with people who seek to influence the Court’s decision?

What does all of this mean?  We have arrived at that fork in the road; is this country’s healthcare legacy going to be judges who work solely in support of corporate interests OK, silly question.  We knew where the conservative justices stood when they declared that corporations are people too?  Seeing justices wined and dined by law firms presenting cases to the high court doesn’t exactly give me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Supreme Court decisions have a way of leaving a lasting legacy.  This case is critical in terms of how we set the stage for providing health care in this nation going forward.  Make no mistake about it — I don’t think the ACA is perfect; I consider it a starting point.  However, should the Supreme Court decide to strike down the law it will send the strongest signal imaginable that this country is still not ready to elevate all of its citizens away from the threat of financial ruin that can occur every time there is a medical crises.  In this country we have all we need to advance the cause of healthcare AND business but we repeatedly choose to save big business — even at the expense of lives.  Are we willing to leave a legacy that shows a person’s net worth and connections are the biggest determining factors as to whether s/he has access to proper health care?