Should Republicans succeed in their attempt to get the new health care legislation overturned on constitutional grounds, what then? No one wants to see the current chaos of selective health insurance and rising treatment costs continue.
The best course for opponents of the law is not only to fight for its repeal, but also have a plan ready to take its place.
Few in the medical profession brought more experience and passion to this subject than Dr. Michael DeBakey, the late cardiovascular surgeon.
In a speech delivered at Rice University in Houston on April 15, 2005, DeBakey laid the moral, medical and political groundwork necessary to transform American health care. He called for a roadmap toward achieving a universal health care system that is "culturally acceptable, affordable and of optimal quality, while avoiding its administration and total control by an ultimately rigid and unwieldy governmental or insurance-industry bureaucracy."
In each of these categories, Obamacare falls short.
In his speech, DeBakey recalled that national health insurance in the United States was first proposed in 1915 by the American Association of Labor Legislation, a small organization of fewer than 3,500 members.
In 1920, The American Medical Association opposed compulsory insurance "which provides for medical service to be rendered contributors or their dependents, provided, controlled, or regulated by any state or federal government." As recently as 1990, the AMA continued to resist compulsory insurance and health care run by the federal government. Apparently seeing the political writing on the wall, the AMA reversed itself and signed on to Obamacare.
DeBakey saw the dangers of too much government meddling in health care, but he also realized something had to be done to cure its ills and that the federal government, which is very much involved in research grants to medical institutions, has a role to play. In his Rice speech, he said, "Blind opposition, indignant repudiation, bitter denunciation of these laws is worse than useless; it leads nowhere and it leaves the profession in a position of helplessness if the rising tide of social development seeps over them."
Which is what has happened with Obamacare.
Seeing clearly the arguments that would be made in favor of Obamacare, DeBakey said, "I have traveled the globe to developed and undeveloped countries with both democratic and communistic governments ... and I can state unequivocally that I have not observed any 'universal health system' or other state-operated medical system that functions in a highly satisfactory manner or provides high-quality care to all the people all the time. In all such countries, there are long delays for any form of high-technology care -- sometimes with fatal consequences. In fact, rationing of care is a prominent feature of all these systems."
DeBakey was a humanitarian who believed "health care is too critical for the welfare of the people to be held hostage by the politically motivated or the profit minded. Herein lies the societal challenge: the need for accepting the desirability of some form of national health care, along with the willingness to pay for it, but avoiding its administration and total control by an ultimately rigid and unwieldy governmental or insurance industry bureaucracy."
If Obamacare is struck down, Republicans should have a proposal ready that embodies their principles, gets passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican president in 2013.
Contact Thomas, a syndicated columnist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.