The Place of the Scalia

In a little-commented-upon exchange on Day Two of the healthcare debate before the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia made a startling suggestion: Why bother paying for emergency room care for folks without insurance?

GENERAL VERRILLI: ...No. It's because you're going -- in the health care market, you're going into the market without the ability to pay for what you get, getting the health care service anyway as a result of the social norms that allow -- that -- to which we've obligated ourselves so that people get health care.
JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, don't obligate yourself to that. Why -- you know?

I don't know whether Scalia was just playing devil's advocate here, or was making a serious suggestion. But it sent chills down my spine. We certainly COULD stop treating the poor and the non-insured. That WOULD help bring costs down somewhat. But would the republic stand for it? Are we prepared for the mountains of dead who would result from this experiment in social responsibility?

I am an optimist. I think that when justices like Scalia look down the barrel of such draconian healthcare options, they might blink.