It’s a simple word but sometimes complicated to put in action. Occasionally, exhibiting leadership means taking on a role one loathes, but doing it anyway because it needs to be done.
Unfortunately, elected officials in North Carolina are offering anything but leadership now that the U.S. Supreme Court has rule on the Affordable Health Care Act, more popularly known as Obamacare.
One requirement of Obamacare is that all U.S. citizens must have some sort of medical insurance. For those who cannot afford it, the federal government will essentially pay for the insurance, on a graduating scale for each individual or family, based on household income. For those who do not secure insurance, there will be an annual fine, to be collected by the Internal Revenue Service.
The Supreme Court essentially ruled that no one has to have insurance, but can instead opt to pay the annual fine, which the court recognizes as a tax, which allows the act to pass constitutional muster.
Another requirement of the new law is that states are called upon to set up insurance exchanges, whereby individuals and small businesses can join with others to get group rates, and to select the best insurance plan available. States can even partner with other states to make larger exchanges.
If states refuse to do this, the federal government will step in and set up the exchanges for them.
There’s the rub, as far as North Carolina is concerned.
The legislation calls for states to have plans for implementing those exchanges in place this fall, and North Carolina has no such plan. According to Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, North Carolina simply won’t comply.
This seems simply pig-headed and childish, and it invites even more federal control over North Carolina and its residents.
It is no secret Berger and others in the state GOP vehemently oppose Obamacare, but this is not about whether Obamacare is a good or bad program. No matter if one believes this among the most important and positive pieces of legislation passed in a generation that will extend healthcare to millions and improve healthcare to others who struggle to afford insurance, or if one views this as a boondoggle that will nearly bankrupt the nation, it is now law. It will be enacted, barring massive GOP victories in U.S. Senate and House races and a win by GOP Mitt Romney.
Yes, there are likely to be additional legal challenges down the road as various pieces of the program are enacted, and if North Carolina’s elected officials so desire they may very well be part of that litigation. But that will be a year, or two, or more, from now. Until then, it is incumbent upon state legislators to retain as much control as possible over the program for North Carolina residents.
Otherwise, the General Assembly will be ceding even more power to the federal government, and whether one is Democrat, Republican, or independent, it’s hard to believe anyone thinks that’s a good idea.