U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder recently said he supports a federal response to the Ebola epidemic.
“I don’t know that New Jersey and New York should have different policies when it comes to how they handle people coming back from these countries in Africa,” the Republican told KMBZ radio.
Wait. Is Yoder saying — gasp — that Washington actually has a role in protecting the public’s health? That can’t be right. That’s one-size-fits-all government. That’s co-opting states’ rights.
The word “Ebola” isn’t in the Constitution! Read the 10th Amendment!
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Conservatives have spent the last four years insisting the Affordable Care Act is an unconstitutional overreach. Kansas and Missouri lawmakers, in fact, have approved a health care compact explicitly claiming the federal government has improperly usurped state oversight of health care.
“Member States seek to protect individual liberty,” the compact says, “and believe the best method to achieve these ends is by vesting regulatory authority over Health Care in the States.”
So states should run Medicare. That nasty Ebola thing? That’s on you, President Barack Obama.
OK, let’s give Yoder a break. His statement reveals something important about government: Making policy decisions is a messy business, with overlapping layers of responsibility and power.
It’s possible, after all, that individuals, the private sector, cities, states and the federal government should be involved in addressing Ebola. It’s possible all parts of government have roles in addressing other important concerns — education, transportation, justice and security, to name a few.
Ours is a system of shared powers. It’s stuck now largely because politicians (and some voters) insist on putting issues into inflexible boxes instead of understanding the complementary roles all stakeholders must play.
At one of his last campaign rallies, Sen. Pat Roberts guaranteed Republicans will “repeal and replace” Obamacare if the party controls the Senate.
It isn’t true. Without filibuster-proof control of the Senate and a GOP president, there won’t be significant changes to the law.
The ACA could be improved, of course. It won’t be, though, until all sides agree to drop the jeremiads and seek actual compromise.
Maybe Kevin Yoder can lead the way — once he realizes Medicaid and the Ebola response are really two sides of the same coin.