Michael Vick & The Constitutionality of Obamacare
Just 3 years ago, life seemed to be over for Michael Vick. The first round draft pick who dazzled crowds with his blazing speed and cannon arm seemingly reached the nadir of his life. When defensive ends blitzed Vick, his agility and uncanny vision usually helped him evade tackles and pick up huge chunks of yards. However, Vick couldn’t pull any fourth quarter heroics to save himself from the media or Judge Henry Hudson who sentenced him to 23 months in prison on charges of Conspiracy in interstate commerce/aid of unlawful animal fighting venture. Vick was such a pariah and laughing stock, that dozens of mainstream rappers began to lampoon him in their lyrics. It seemed like every time somebody made any kind of reference to a dog (we know how often rappers use the word “dawg”) Vick’s name was sure to follow. Three years later, Vick has emerged as a self-proclaimed “changed man”, and one hell of a quarterback who has almost single handedly put his franchise in a great position to make the playoffs. Not to mention, his 104.3 Quarterback rating, 2,513 yards passing, and 17 touchdown passes have made him a serious candidate for this season’s MVP award. U.S. District Judge, Henry Hudson, said he was proud to see what Vick has accomplished and he told the Washington Post “He’s an example of how the system can work”. But did Hudson approach the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act the same way he approached the Vick case?
“Hang ‘em high Henry” as George W. Bush so affectionately called him, earned this moniker for being tough on crime. In the Vick trial he was remembered by saying, “You were instrumental in promoting, funding and facilitating this cruel and inhumane sporting activity,” the judge said, adding: “I’m not convinced you’ve fully accepted responsibility.” Yesterday “Hang ‘em high Henry” ruled against President Obama’s health care reform law, saying that the individual mandate provision of the law exceeded Congress‘ powers under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
According to a Dec. 14th article in Businessweek Magazine, “health plans rose as much as 2.7 percent after the ruling was announced, and then fell back. The Standard & Poor’s Managed Health Index of six insurers climbed 0.3 percent in New York trading, led by a 1 percent increase for Aetna Inc. of Hartford, Connecticut. UnitedHealth Group Inc. of Minnetonka, Minnesota, the largest medical plan by sales, rose 0.6 percent.”
The law bars insurers from denying coverage to people who are sick or imposing lifetime limits on costs. Without payments generated from the required policies, the health-insurance market would face extinction. I believe the mandate falls under Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce due to the fact that the market absorbs $43 billion in unpaid medical bills. Although opponents claim there is no competition in the marketplace, they fail to mention to the health insurance exchange. A health insurance exchange is an organized marketplace for the purchase of health insurance set up as a governmental or quasi-governmental entity to help insurers comply with consumer protections, compete in cost-efficient ways, and to facilitate the expansion of insurance coverage to more people. American families still would be able to make decision about health care on their own volition.
By no means am I condoning the acts of Vick in his previous life. Similarly, I’m not saying that the raising of constitutional concerns over this legislation isn’t warranted. What I do believe is that the Vick case sheds light on Hudson’s judicial thinking. Even though health care reform was dealt a painful blow yesterday, I believe it can bounce back like Vick and win.