TAC readers probably could have seen this one coming.
Lawfare has a mock amicus brief written by Philip Bobbitt, Columbia legal scholar and member of the State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Law, defending the individual mandate on national security grounds. He contends our responsibility for mutual “protection” justifies the law, and that its data-gathering aspects are an essential epidemiological response to the threat of bioterrorism:
… the steady advance of biotechnology that makes biotoxins and viruses cheaper to create and easier to weaponize, and brings their deployment within the technical capabilities of many thousands of persons. Various technical complexities, however, mean that we have, for a while, a period in which it is unlikely that mass casualties will result from a biological attack.
This period of respite will shift as the techniques of microbiological recombination become more widespread. It will be possible for well informed persons to alter the molecular structure of viruses in nature, producing a lethal infectious disease that, once exposed to human beings, can spread by contagion.
. . .
The consequence of these developments is that the healthcare of all persons living in America is bound together: the protection of every American is no stronger than the weakest protection of any American. Yet the most frequent reason cited by persons who do not present themselves to hospitals for treatment is a lack of medical insurance. Without such presentment, medical authorities are unable to accumulate the data necessary to warn of a biological attack in the timeliest way. In the case of the anthrax attacks of 2001, the determining factor whether the victims lived or died was whether the treating physicians recognized the cause of infection. Unalerted, many did not; their patients died.
. . .
Congress has determined that it is necessary to create a national network of disease reporting, an intangible successor to the national Highway network. To deny Congress the power to implement an essential part of this strategy–a strategy to preclude the consequences of biological attacks through reporting of presentments–would jeopardize such a monitoring and reporting system. (link)
Much of the debate over Obamacare has concerned whether the law is a mandate or a tax, and there’s some truth to both sides. But Bobbitt’s brief shows the healthcare package in a different light; Obamacare-as-surveillance.