Virginia could be the first state to issue a Constitutional challenge to the Health Care legislation passed by the House yesterday. Last Thursday, before the bill had passed, Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli announced that he would bring suit, stating that the legislation “violate[s] the plain text of both the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.” Presumably, he’s referring to the insurance mandate that would require eligible Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face fines, something the Va. Legislature determined would be illegal several weeks ago. Will this happen? Probably. Cucinelli is, to say the least, a staunch conservative and has the energy to pursue this. Does he have a case? Actually, maybe. If history has shown anything it’s that the “plain text” of the Constitution is anything but. Still, the 10th Amendment states that powers not specifically enumerated to the Fed by the Constitution belong to the states and the people. The trick is showing that the Fed has overstepped its bounds in this instance. Typically, courts rule in favor of the Federal government in 10th Amendment cases, but they do occasionally swing towards the states’ rights side. With the Supreme Court being fairly conservative, at the moment, anything is possible.
As we’ve progressed further and further into the digital age (and I’m speaking here of time, and not necessarily of social progress) we’ve gotten the ability to schedule a lot of things online. Grocery Delivery, Flights, Trains, Concert Tickets, Car Pickup, Maintenance Appointments. The more I can read the appointment availability schedule for myself, the more I can arrange my schedule to my own satisfaction instead of feeling at the beck and call of others. It’s freeing to make your own appointments.
Enter ZocDoc. They’ve worked with 12,000 doctors and dentists in the DC area to build an appointment system that you can access online. Tell it your health insurance, and what speciality or kind of generalist that you want to see, and it finds appointments in their schedule and puts them up for you to see. Got the sniffles or possibly the swine flu in 20010 and you’ve got Care First insurance? There are appointments for twelve different doctors in DC for today. How about Humana PPO instead? Eleven docs are waiting for you.
Where was this when I needed a GP appointment two months ago and had to wait five weeks to see someone?
DC residents: You have no vote in the House of Representatives. You have no vote in the Senate. You have no official say on how the health care insurance system will be reformed. You are second class citizens, according to Congress, because you live in the home of the federal government. But fortunately your Congresswoman, Eleanor Holmes Norton, doesn’t let that lack of a vote stop her from reaching out to constituents or trying to influence her fellow members on these incredibly important decisions. Last night Norton held a “Fact Check” town hall meeting in the auditorium of the Department of Commerce on 14th and Constitution NW. With between 200-250 people in attendance, about half of the capacity of the venue, the event was focused on answering constituent questions with a panel of medical and insurance experts and did not include long speeches.
Before turning it over for constituent stories and questions, Norton opened up the evening with a 15 minute statement about how the event would be run, which included her saying that DC residents are “The most civil people in the United States.” I initially thought this was simply wishful thinking, but after the next two hours went by without a single person yelling, screaming or insulting anyone, I’ll have to agree with the Congresswoman on this one. At least from the perspective of a town hall meeting on the lightning rod issue that is health care reform; especially after covering the Rep. Moran (D-VA) town hall event a few weeks ago. Now the event was held in a federal building with very tight security and more armed police and federal agents than you could count surrounding the area, only those living in the District were able to attend, and signs were not permitted at all past the door, but it still was a very positive representation of political civility by attendees and should make all DC residents proud.
Photos courtesy of Karl Johnson
Congressman James Moran (D-VA), who represents Virginia’s 8th congressional district which covers a large chunk of northern Virginia including Arlington and Alexandria, held a health care town hall meeting tonight at South Lakes High School in Reston, VA. He didn’t go at it alone, however, as he was joined by Gov. Howard Dean. Town halls across the country have become infamous for the shouting and protesting of people against the current health care reform efforts and they hit a dramatic peak when Rep. Barney Frank last week, now famously, told a constituent that arguing with her was “like arguing with a dining room table” because of her ill-informed question asking why he supports Nazi policies.
Tonight’s event started off with very long lines, which began forming hours before the doors were to be opened, protruding out from both sides of the school. The gym’s capacity was close to 2,500 people seated and perhaps another 500 standing. The doors had to be closed at around 7pm, when the program was to start, because the limits had been reached despite those still waiting outside. The media was out in mass for the event and live coverage was provided on CSPAN. The media, and perhaps a large percentage of the constituents, came out to witness what was sure to be an interesting night. Most did not leave disappointed.