Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Here is Congressman Steve King’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act, health reform widely known as Obamacare: It’s an Orwellian overreach by the federal government to make purchase of a product, health insurance, compulsory.

King goes so far as to refer to federal health reform as the “nationalization of our body and everything inside of it.”

Fair enough. Agree or not, that’s a straightforward ideology. No wiggling. No dodging.

But there is another side of the coin. And on this King is not as clear.

If, as King suggests, it is downright Soviet to mandate that adult Americans purchase health-care plans, then why is it OK that existing law forces hospitals to provide emergency-room care for people who don’t have insurance or the money to pay for services rendered?

It’s wrong for government to make you buy something but fine for Washington to mandate a professional to serve you, and prescribe fines and civil actions if he or she doesn’t?

 The latter is exactly what the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act does.

What’s the difference, on principle, between that 1986 law and Obamacare? One violates the very core of King’s conservative being.

The other ….

Is something I asked King about Monday following his town-hall meeting in the Carroll Chamber of Commerce’s Harold Bierl Room.

“I have made a whole series of arguments about this, and I’ve also voted on one occasion that I can recall for an amendment to fund that kind of emergency service out of the federal government if you’re going to mandate it,” King said.

Simply put, King said the law on emergency care is the law of the land.

“It’s hard enough to repeal Obamacare let alone take on another piece of the puzzle,” King said.

On principle does King think hospitals should have to provide medical care to people who show up at emergency rooms without insurance?

“I think that you can’t turn people away when they’re brought into the emergency room and need help,” King said. “I don’t think anybody would say, ‘Send them out and put them on a stretcher on the street.’”

Even though they can’t pay, meaning the costs are passed on to the rest of us who can?

 The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service, requires critical access and Medicare-participating hospitals to screen and stabilize people regardless of whether or not they are beneficiaries of any program under the act — or in spite of a lack of insurance.

“In the country I am the No. 1 opponent to Obamacare,” King said.

To be consistent shouldn’t King be equally as upset about the emergency-treatment mandate — also known as the anti-patient-dumping statute?

King and Obama agree that the United States should be compassionate at the emergency-room door, that nurses should look to stop bleeding, that doctors should quickly examine patients with trauma, before some hospital clerk goes shuffling through a wallet or an orderly purse dives for proof of insurance.

The difference: Obama asks people to pay up front for the insurance — just as the State of Iowa mandates all drivers have a minimum level of auto insurance.

For that he’s Khrushchev?

King, on the other hand, wants a federal government safety net, without the Obama pre-pay plan, for Americans who are irresponsible with their affairs, who don’t buy health insurance because they know when the going gets really bad, alleged True Believing Capitalists like Congressman King don’t have the stomachs for a real-deal system of winners and losers.