The Nine tackle Healthcare: But what matters to you? United States Supreme Court, from left: Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Elana Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Photo by Steve Petteway for the Supreme Court, now in public domain.This week the U.S. Supreme Court hears six hours of arguments for and against the healthcare reform law. By the end of the week, we should know whether the high court will strike down the entire law, cut parts of it, or leave it intact.

But, please take a moment and add your comment (below) to this question:

What’s the core issue for you?

(OurValues is widely read and your comment could influence other readers on this important issue.)

For some, the key issue is the constitutionality of the law itself. For others, it’s another example of government intrusion in the lives of private citizens. Many might say that the individual mandate is the core issue. This mandate requires almost all Americans to buy healthcare insurance or pay a fine if they don’t. Opponents say the government shouldn’t be able to force you to buy insurance if you don’t want it.

For me, the individual mandate is part of the core issue, but not all of it. The other part is the right to medical care. With or without insurance, if you are sick or injured and show up at a hospital’s emergency department, you will get medical care. If you don’t have insurance, you might face a whopping bill—but if you can’t pay it, it’s likely that the cost will just be absorbed by the hospital and the doctors who treated you. This means the cost is passed on to everyone else. This is one reason why healthcare costs have skyrocketed.

No one is going to propose that a person should be denied medical care because they can’t pay for it. No one is going to say that a sick or injured person should be turned away at the hospital door. Access to medical care is a fundamental human right. The individual mandate balances the right to medical care with the responsibility to pay for medical care received.

You may agree with my analysis. You may disagree. You may see a completely different issue at the heart of this matter. It’s a complicated issue, but it affects millions of us.

So, as I say, the question today is: What do you think?

How do you approach this difficult issue?

Each day this week we’ll discuss different facts related to the Supreme Court deliberations and the values at the heart of the issues. Join us each day and tell us what you think!

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Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue.

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