Paul Greenberg

Have you got health insurance? I do. Wouldn't it be nice if everybody did? Just think:

No more worries about losing your health care if you lose your job, or just get a different one. Ah, peace of mind at last.

No more freeloaders who go uninsured and expect those of us who pay insurance premiums to take care of them when they fall ill. It would be only fair.

No more overcrowded emergency rooms -- the most expensive and least efficient way to deliver medical care -- because people use them instead of carrying health insurance. What an improvement that would be.

Health insurance is such a good idea, the wish was father to the law. Which is why we now have Obamacare, and will soon have more of it if Washington and the states can ever figure out just how it's supposed to work. Along with doctors and hospitals and insurance companies and the whole health-care industry, and, oh yes, patients.

All will be watching how the new health-care system develops -- some with hope, others with fear, most with a mix of both.

This much is certain: There will be changes. Settled law and settled habits will have to be changed. There will be objections. From the states, among others. Medicaid costs are already mounting from state to state across the country -- a harbinger of the fiscal challenges to come. But that's no problem for Washington. It'll just pass another (unfunded) mandate.

Some churches won't want to pay for procedures that violate their beliefs, like contraception, sterilization and abortion. But there's no rush. They have a whole year to figure out how to violate their conscience. Maybe their objections can be papered over by a little creative accounting or verbal prestidigitation here and there.

The word for this process is accommodation. There's no problem, no expense, no objection that can't be met, or at least postponed, or talked away, or discreetly hidden. But start recognizing some conscientious objectors, and the danger is you have to recognize all of them. Soon everybody will want to follow his own conscience. That's no way to maintain an unconscionable law.

Don't fret. It'll all be nice. Just leave it to government. It knows best. And it's all for our own good. The velvet glove will be so soft that after a while we won't notice the iron hand inside.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.