I don’t think anyone doubts that the government should have an interest in the state of health care in America. The debate has devolved so far into the issue of financing national health care that we may be missing the more important question of our general welfare.
General welfare is one of those pesky clauses in the Constitution that doesn’t arise to the level of the commerce clause. In regards to health care, we probably wouldn’t hear it unless there was a full blown contagion.
We already have an infrastructure in place to address not only contagions, but to provide something more primary like actual access to a doctor. It is by no means perfect, but government’s main role should be the licensing of health care facilities and health care providers such that the infrastructure meets a standard for quality care.
Government ensures that there is a telecommunications infrastructure in place, but its up to me to pay for using it. Government ensures that there is a highway system in place, but it’s up to me to buy the gas and pay the toll.
For the most part, Congress has been concerned with the latter. Quite frankly an infrastructure is of no use to society if it can’t afford to use it. Does this mean that government has to provide a public telephone company to ensure affordable rates and a supply of telecommunications services? No, it doesn’t and the same should hold for health care services.