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March 26 2012

SCOTUS Hears Affordable Care Act and Cheney Gets a New Heart

posted by Allie


It’s ironic that the day before the Supreme Court takes up arguments on the Affordable Care Act, it was announced that former Vice President Dick Cheney had received a heart transplant at the age of 71.  New stories like this one, as well as the debate surrounding the Affordable Care Act, question the role of government in the realm of health care. 

There are approximately 3,100 people waiting for a heart transplant in the U.S. today, yet only about 2,000 heart transplant procedures are performed each year.  These figures beg the question, when supplies are scarce, who should regulate distribution—the market or regulations?  Should regulations keep the elderly from receiving these kinds of life saving transplants in favor of younger patients?  Should regulations require that individuals of all fiscal backgrounds and insurance coverage have access to heart screenings and transplant specialists?  Should the market rule all---whoever can pay receives the transplant?

These aren’t easy questions to answer.  A 71 year-old (let’s forget for a second that this particular 71 year-old is a polarizing political figure), could likely have several quality years ahead.  However, are those years more valuable than say the additional years added to the life of a 50 year-old who may have yet to see his/her children graduate from college or get married?   That type of question is way above my pay grade (and since I do this for free, that's not a high bar).  

There’s obviously a debate here that’s larger than the “new heart for Cheney” going on here.  As a society, I think collectively we’d like to view ourselves as in a positive light as treating every human with worth and value—you know the whole “all men are created equal” thing-- however, the health care system in this country would suggest that we have a long way to go towards reaching that ideal.  

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About the Author: Allie

Allie is a third year law student. She graduated from a small liberal arts college in 2008, married that same summer, and started law school in the fall. Talk about transitions! When she’s not studying, she loves to be with her hubby, Dustin. She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, cooking, crocheting, gardening, and decorating her home. Her favorite shows are Friends, Fringe, 30 Rock, Modern Family, Project Runway, and Top Chef. She has no idea what area of law she wants to practice in but is most drawn to areas involving torts- she is fluent in Spanish and hopes to incorporate that into her legal career.

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