CRAIG GROSHART: Let’s get health-care reform right first time

The furor over the national National Health Care Reform Act has got to stop. Next-to-nothing has been implemented yet and parts of the bill are being challenged by attorney generals from a number of states. Yet, things are getting out of hand. The FBI on Tuesday arrested a Selah (Yakima County) man for threatening to kill Sen. Patty Murray, who voted for the health-care bill.

The furor over the national National Health Care Reform Act has got to stop. Next-to-nothing has been implemented yet and parts of the bill are being challenged by attorney generals from a number of states. Yet, things are getting out of hand.

The FBI on Tuesday arrested a Selah (Yakima County) man for threatening to kill Sen. Patty Murray, who voted for the health-care bill.

Other members of Congress have had threats made against them or, in some cases, actually have had acts committed against them or their relatives.

It’s not that the National Health Care Reform Act is without consequences. It could profoundly change how health care is bought and delivered in this country.

The operating word here is “could.” No one really knows for sure what the 2,000-plus page bill allows or demands. In any case, some – perhaps much – of the bill likely will end up in court and probably the U.S. Supreme Court. If it is constitutional, it provisions will be carried out. If not, they won’t.

Threatening death to someone who voted for the bill isn’t an acceptable response.

There have been other over-reaching responses, too. Democrats in our state Legislature have criticized Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, for joining in the challenge of a portion of the new law. They want to restrict him from spending any money on the challenge.

Never mind that McKenna doesn’t answer to the Legislature. He is independently elected by the voters and was elected by a majority of them, the same as the governor and other statewide officials.

We don’t pretend to be constitutional scholars, but a point raised by McKenna – and others – points to a legitimate issue.

The law requires people to buy a health insurance policy and argues that the federal government can demand this under language in the Constitution that deals with interstate commerce.

But, is a person really engaged in interstate commerce if they don’t buy health insurance? That’s one of the key points McKenna and attorney generals of other states want to know.

I do too.

Issues that deal with the Constitution are not trivial. How the Constitution is interpreted can make a huge difference in everyday life.

We will be much better off taking a bit of time to have such issues work their way through the judicial system. Yes, health care is important. But the Constitution is the bedrock of how we function as a country. Whatever we do, let’s make sure it is done right.

Craig Groshart is editor of the Bellevue Reporter. Reach him at cgroshart@bellevuereporter.com.


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