Should Republicans succeed in their attempt to get the new health care legislation overturned on constitutional grounds, what then? No one wants to see the current chaos of selective health insurance and rising treatment costs continue.
The best course for opponents of the law is not only to fight for its repeal, but also have a plan ready to take its place.
Few in the medical profession thought more about this subject, or brought more experience and passion to it than Dr. Michael DeBakey the late cardiovascular surgeon.
In a speech delivered at Rice University in Houston on April 15, 2005, DeBakey laid the moral, medical and political groundwork necessary to transform American health care. He called for a roadmap toward achieving a universal health care system that is "culturally acceptable, affordable, and of optimal quality, while avoiding its administration and total control by an ultimately rigid and unwieldy governmental or insurance-industry bureaucracy.
In each of these categories, Obamacare falls short.
In his speech, DeBakey remembers some history, much of which he lived (he died in 2008 at age 99). He recalled that national health insurance in the United States was first proposed in 1915 by the American Association of Labor Legislation, a small organization of fewer than 3,500 members. Interestingly, Samuel Gompers, one of the most influential labor leaders of his day, vigorously opposed universal health care. Gompers argued, "The solution to illness was not compulsory insurance, but higher wages."
In 1920, The American Medical Association (AMA) opposed compulsory insurance "which provides for medical service to be rendered contributors or their dependents, provided, controlled, or regulated by any state or federal government." As recently as 1990, the AMA continued to resist compulsory insurance and health care run by the federal government. Apparently seeing the political writing on the wall, the AMA reversed itself and signed on to Obamacare.
DeBakey saw the dangers of too much government meddling in health care, but he also realized something had to be done to cure its ills and that the federal government, which is very much involved in research grants to medical institutions, has a role to play. In his Rice speech, he said, "Blind opposition, indignant repudiation, bitter denunciation of these laws is worse than useless; it leads nowhere and it leaves the profession in a position of helplessness if the rising tide of social development seeps over them."