James Kerian: Heidi Heitkamp's Obamacare Extremism

heidi heitkamp

It has been previously demonstrated on this blog that “extremist” is the new favorite word of the Democrat party in North Dakota.

If you believe that the debt ceiling should not be raised until something (anything) is done to bring federal spending under control then the Democrat party will be happy to inform you that you are an anti-government extremist.

If you believe that unborn children who are so thoroughly developed that their heartbeat can be detected should have the same right to life as the rest of us then, again, the Democrats will be happy to inform you that you are an anti-choice extremist.

One is tempted to retort, along with Barry Goldwater, that “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” But if you are truly concerned about North Dakota’s elected representatives being extremely out of touch with the views of their constituents then there is surely no more alarming example than Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s devotion to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

Heitkamp campaigned in 2012 as a moderate, criticizing Obamacare and promising amendments, fixes, and modifications. But that was then, when she needed North Dakotans who overwhelming opposed the law to vote for her. Now, nearly two years into her senate career, Heitkamp has opposed every attempt to repeal this disastrous law and she can point to no accomplishment/progress that has been achieved in improving it.

It wasn’t until this month, however, that Heitkamp revealed just how devoted she is to the most extreme elements of Obamacare. At the end of June, as everyone reading this blog already knows, the Supreme Court struck down Obamacare’s mandate that those of us who offer other people jobs must be forced to buy our employees insurance coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives or abortifacients even if we believe that purchasing this coverage is inherently immoral. It would have been wonderful if the Court would have struck down the mandate in its entirety. As Justices Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy pointed out two years ago there is no real legal justification for the federal government to force us to buy insurance coverage at all, whether or not we believe it is immoral. Unfortunately, they could not find a fifth justice to join them in this fairly obvious observation so we have been left with a very mild, very limited correction to the massive overreach that is Obamacare. The federal government is still allowed to force people to buy insurance coverage they don’t want to buy. It just isn’t allowed to force people to buy elective (optional) medical coverage that they believe is immoral.

You might think a self-proclaimed “moderate” like Heidi Heitkamp would have accepted this minuscule rollback of Obama’s health care power grab, but you would be wrong. On July 16th Heitkamp cast her vote (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=113&session=2&vote=00228 ) for S. 2578, Senator Richard Blumenthal’s Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act. The title is as Orwellian as the one the Democrats gave to Obamacare. Blumenthal’s bill has as little to do with protecting women’s health from corporate interference as Obamacare has to do with making healthcare affordable. What it does do is repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 in an attempt to overturn the recent Supreme Court decision.

It is worth noting that the issue here for Democrats is not access to healthcare. Obamacare plans are not currently required to 100% cover hip replacements or inhalers for asthma patients without a copay or deductible. The medication that kept my youngest two children alive while they were in utero is still an out of pocket expense under most Obamacare plans. Heitkamp has made no attempt to make these real medical treatments available with zero copay and zero deductible as she is insisting coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients must be fully purchased by the employer and available at no cost to the end user. Either the Democrats believe that sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients are more essential medical care than hip replacements or their real concern here is not access to healthcare but rather punishing those who hold the “wrong” moral views on sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients.

This is a frightening turn of events for a nation that once allowed conscientious objectors who were drafted in World War II to avoid combat duty. We were then a nation that would protect the individual’s freedom of conscience even in the face of the obvious risk this presented to the entire country. Heitkamp and her fellow Democrats would now have us become a nation that would sacrifice the individual’s freedom of conscience for a free morning after pill.

Fortunately, despite Heitkamp’s vote, the Republicans in the senate were able to block Blumenthal’s bill and it appears that the Supreme Court’s decision will stand, at least for the near future. But North Dakotans who would like to be represented in the senate by someone who shares their view of Obamacare should remember Heitkamp’s devotion to even the most extreme elements of this federal power grab.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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