While Republicans are calling for Congress to “repeal and replace” the new Federal health care law, North Carolina's Libertarians want to make more fundamental changes. Several candidates said the law is unconstitutional and an infringement on individual liberty. They support North Carolina joining the 14 states who are suing the Federal government challenging the new law.
Most are skeptical of Republican opposition, particularly Sen. Richard Burr’s pledge to “repeal and replace” that has become the GOP battle cry.
“Burr's statement ‘repeal and replace,’ tells you one thing: we want our law, not theirs,”said Richard Evey, Libertarian candidate for N.C. Senate District 44.
“Repeal and replace with nothing is what we would like to see,” said Susan Hogarth, Wake Libertarian Party chair.
“The only reform that is needed is for the Federal Government to get completely out of health care programs,” said Thomas Rose, Libertarian candidate for Congress in District 2.
Libertarians believe a completely free market, unhampered by taxation and government regulation, is the best way to insure all people have access to the best health care at the lowest prices. They oppose the new law on legal, moral and financial grounds.
The Constitutional argument, rarely raised by Republicans during Congressional debate, is simply that health care regulation is not among the specific and enumerated powers granted to the Federal government.
Proponents claim that Article I, Section 8, Clause 3, the commerce clause, which grants the Federal government power to regulate interstate commerce gives the Federal government the right to regulate health care. But that interpretation is wrong, according to Herb Sobel, Libertarian candidate for N.C. House District 3.
“The commerce clause of the Constitution which is used so often to justify government regulation of the rights of citizens applies to positive commercial activity,” he said. “If a citizen declines to purchase health insurance, a negative commercial activity, the commerce clause can not apply.”
Even if the U.S. Supreme Court finds the law constitutional, “that will not make it right and Libertarians will still oppose it,” said Hogarth. “Our opposition is not based solely on Constitutional grounds.”
The law forces people to purchase a service they may not want or need, and it forces people to further subsidize that service for others, libertarians say. It also enforces a moral judgment.
“Providing health services for ourselves or for those who cannot afford it is an individual decision based on an internal moral judgment,” said Stephanie Watson, Libertarian candidate for N.C. Senate District 16. “Like all moral decisions, this should be up to the individual, not forced by government mandate.”
Watson said the bill will increase demand for insurance, thus driving up prices from existing insurance companies.
“A compulsory system with higher health insurance rates means healthcare overall will be an even greater cost to the people of North Carolina,” she said. As a state senator, she said she’d work to keep North Carolina free from any costs and obligations imposed by the Federal government which go beyond its Constitutional power.
Evey and Sobel would support her efforts.
“This law will force tremendous unfunded mandates on the state that would lead us down the same economic path as California and dramatically increase the number of government dependents,” said Darryl Holloman, Libertarian candidate for Congressional in District 3.
Holloman said if elected he would work to repeal the bill using every means possible, including defunding administration and enforcement.
Whatever action the Federal government takes regarding health care “should be based on simple, grade school level problem solving skills and limited to the powers given to our Congress by the Constitution,” Holloman said.
He said that the root of the problem is that health care and insurance have been considered entitlements, driving up demand, while government price controls and regulation have driven up the costs associated with medical practice, restricting supply.
Holloman proposes several ways to let the free market to reform the health care system, including ending state insurance monopolies, reduce medical license requirements and ending government intervention in education and making allowing private companies to do drug testing.