Former Vice President Dick Cheney received a heart transplant last weekend. Immediately, the mainstream media began to question whether the 71-year-old should have been eligible for the procedure. Some on the left joked the conservative leader had no heart to begin with and even suggested the world would be better had he not survived his earlier heart attacks. Cheney reportedly waited on the transplant list for 20 months (longer than average) despite accusations he skipped ahead on the list because of his prominence, a conspiracy theory roundly rejected by medical professionals.

The national discussion on this issue is not because a senior citizen received a heart transplant; that happens commonly. This uproar came as a result of political passions in opposition to the recipient. Those who dislike Cheney question whether he, an elderly man, should receive a private medical procedure to extend his life. What perfect timing to illustrate to the left why conservatives fear the government running health care and taking life and death decisions away from patients and doctors.

This week the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

The Court granted six hours of oral arguments over three days for questioning on whether the Court can yet review the case (Anti-Injunction Act), the constitutionality of an individual mandate, severability (whether the entire law would be unconstitutional if a portion of it is) and Medicaid expansion. More than half the States - 26 - have filed suit opposing Obamacare along with the National Federation of Independent Business. A modern record of 130 amicus briefs have been filed in the case.

The Court held the hearings just days after the two-year anniversary of the bill's passage. Last week, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker spoke on the Senate floor on what he called the "sad" anniversary of Obamacare: "The truth is Americans deserve affordable, high quality health care, not a 2700-page big government piece of legislation that taxes, spends and regulates.



Sen. Wicker said the
nonpartisan Government Accounting Office now projects the costs of
Obamacare to exceed $1.8 trillion over a decade



"The President's healthcare law has not lowered the cost of healthcare as promised. It has not created jobs as promised. It has not reduced the deficit as promised. And so this week, we mark an anniversary not with progress but bitter realities."

Wicker said the nonpartisan Government Accounting Office now projects the costs of Obamacare to exceed $1.8 trillion over a decade: more than double the cost promised by Democrats when they passed the bill in 2010. Wicker said President Obama campaigned on the legislation reducing healthcare premiums by $2500 a family' but instead, since his election premiums have increased. According to a release by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, "A Kaiser Family Foundation report found that health care premiums in the workplace increased 9 percent, or over $1,200, for an average American family in the year following enactment of the Democrats' health care law. Further, the non-partisan CBO estimates that health insurance premiums for those individuals without employer sponsored insurance will increase by 13 percent compared to if the law hadn't been enacted."

"This is hardly the relief that President Obama promised," Wicker said.

Wicker said because this case will determine the scope of the "commerce clause" it is "one of the most consequential cases of my lifetime. Consequential not only because it deals with this massive, burdensome legislation but because the implications go so much farther....If the Supreme Court decides this law can withstand Constitutional scrutiny, then this large, massive federal government can do almost anything."

Court watchers expect a decision in late June.

Wicker said even if the Court failed to strike down the law, the Congress and the people can still act to change the law through the elections this November. A Rasmussen Reports poll this week announced 56 percent of likely U.S. voters favor repeal of Obamacare. A Gallup Poll last month said 72 percent of Americans believe the law is unconstitutional including 56 percent of Democrats. The Gallup sampling also said 72 percent of Americans believe the law will not make much difference in their personal healthcare, or make it worse.

In Mississippi, the federal delegation is predictably split along party lines. Republicans with Wicker - Senator Thad Cochran and Congressmen Alan Nunnelee, Greg Harper and Steven Palazzo - all oppose Obamacare, support its rejection by the Court and favor repeal. Democrat Congressman Bennie Thompson supports Obamacare. Thompson told the Clarion Ledger, "Health care should not be a luxury that only the very wealthy can afford and have access to. Instead, we should make sure that women, children, the poor and seniors also have the coverage so many others take for granted."

While certainly not poor, I suspect Dick Cheney is one senior relieved his most recent health care procedure occurred prior to the full implementation of Obamacare.



Brian Perry is a partner in a public affairs firm. Reach him at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms.