Movses Musaelian is a Statistics major in the Department of Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University. His interest in politics has lead him to become a contributor to an innumerable amount of political forums, and he is an avid follower of Armenian events. Read his bio in the ‘About Us’ page.
A major issue that has been dominating the U.S. political landscape in the past couple years has been undoubtedly the case for a universal healthcare system. Obama’s revolutionary new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which contains an individual mandate requiring individuals to purchase healthcare or be penalized a tax, has caused a lot of controversy, and rightfully so. In the current day, the federal government takes on a lot more responsibilities than it should – responsibilities that are beyond its fundamental duties to maintain a national defense, regulate interstate commerce, engage in international trade, etc. While there are some legitimate debates regarding its involvement, in the case of healthcare, I see the federal government’s involvement as impractical.
Imposing a federal law like this on every state ignores the fact that the states are not uniform and have diverse differences in their economic needs, culture, and political philosophies. For example, the comparison between Vermont with Mississippi is like a comparison between two different countries. The economy, culture, mindset of people, views about the role of government all differ and, hence, such a federal law will have to gloss over these differences and employ the “one size fits all” strategy. In the end, you are left with angry citizens on both sides, and in the healthcare case, a state sponsored challenging of the law at every level of government. When the option is given to the states, each state can pick and choose how they want their healthcare system to work according to the desires of its citizens. In this manner, conservative states that prefer a privatized system don’t have to clash with liberal states that desire a universal one. The federal government can, of course, support healthcare reformation in the individual states that desire it, but dictating how the reformation should go for all states will just fuel the tension in the relationship between the state and federal governments.
Given the size and diversity of the United States, it is crucial to utilize localized knowledge in order to provide more efficient and accurate solutions. A country like the Netherlands has a much easier time in employing a national healthcare plan because of its small size and more cohesive nature. However, countries like the United States cannot opt for the same strategies as their small European counterparts in issues as large and economically diverse as healthcare. Instead, the federal government must heed the voice of the states if it is to ensure the long term survival of the new health law.