An artist's rendering showing Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli… (Dana Verkouteren / Associated…)
Is healthcare a privilege or a right?
As Times consumer columnist David Lazarus wrote Friday: “One of the most striking take-aways from this week’s U.S. Supreme Court hearings on the healthcare reform law was the steadfast insistence on the part of Republicans to deny affordable and accessible medical treatment to as many people as possible.”
Lazarus added that “that means some sort of requirement that everyone have health coverage -- a proposal originally championed by the conservative Heritage Foundation and embraced by leading Republicans (until they realized it was actually a Marxist plot to destroy the healthcare system)."
Letter writers to The Times know exactly what they think on that score and emailed their comments on the week's Supreme Court oral arguments in no uncertain terms:
Vince Scully of Long Beach commented sarcastically:
“Great, the Supreme Court that gave us ‘super PACs’ will now take away our healthcare. Thank God!
"Otherwise, we might be a socialist country like Germany with free healthcare, low unemployment, world-leading exports, a growing manufacturing sector, multi-week standard vacations per year, a low crime rate and enough cash to bail out the rest of Europe.
"Thank God the conservatives are protecting us from this curse of socialism, where the government actually takes steps to help its people.”
The problem stems from the existing “market,” writes Gary Davis of Los Angeles:
“To all the letter writers and sign carriers who insist that the individual mandate impinges on their freedom: Many of these same people expect they can show up at any emergency room and get whatever treatment they need without paying for it.
"That is no different from walking out the grocery store with a cartful of unpaid groceries -- after all, we all need food, right?
"Until medical providers can refuse all care to anyone who can't pay in advance, healthcare is not an 'honest' market, and anyone who says the current system is working isn't being honest about that either.”
But Edward Saraffian of Los Angeles was having none of that:
“This so-called law should never have been passed in the first place. Public sentiment was mostly against it. The Democrats railroaded it through Congress …. It definitely does not pass the smell test.
"Fortunately, there are at least five justices who believe in upholding the Constitution and will not permit social engineering.”
Not so, commented Jefferson Davis of Naples, Calif:
“I was under the impression that the Republicans were the ones who were against judicial activism and legislating from the bench -- boy, was I wrong.”
Christoph Bull of Los Angeles had a few words for one of those justices:
“Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wants to know about the difference between health insurance and broccoli mandates. The answer is simple.
"There is no chance that individuals will have to be force-injected with broccoli to save their lives, and there is also no chance that the other customers in the grocery store will be forced to chip in for the cost of someone else’s life-saving broccoli.”
Finally, Marcia Buchalter of La Mesa saw a silver lining -- of sorts -- if the reform law fails:
“I’ve changed my mind. I won’t despair when the Supreme Court knocks down the healthcare law -- it should be knocked down. It is an inadequate compromise.
"My husband and I are self-employed. After his heart attack a decade ago, we became ‘uninsurable’ by anyone besides our current provider. Our monthly health insurance premium now exceeds our monthly mortgage.
"So let it fail.
"When Americans start paying their own premiums, a universal single-payer solution will suddenly have great appeal. Then, it will come together again, but in a better way.”