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North Texans Debate Mandated Healthcare as Supreme Court Hears Arguments

Texasis one of 26 states fighting the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care legislation at the Supreme Court where hearings began Monday. About 25 percent of the Texas population is uninsured, that’s close to six million. KERA’s Courtney Collins spoke to people at a Dallas hospital and bookstore about how mandated health coverage would impact them.

Michelle Cetina is a Parkland patient with no health insurance.

Cetina: “I have cancer.”

Cetina and her husband both work, but their employers don’t provide healthcare. They have a son and a house and she says that doesn’t leave room in her bank account for insurance.

She says that would still be the case if coverage was mandated by the federal government.

Cetina: “Either it’s mortgage or healthcare. So if we have to purchase it, we wouldn’t be able to afford our bills.”

Cetina is waiting for her prescription in the Parkland Outpatient Pharmacy. The lobby is packed with people, including Roderick Sims. He doesn’t have health insurance either.

Sims: “Not working right now but when I was working I was working as a laborer, self-employed, and wasn’t able to afford healthcare insurance, just to buy it outright.”

But unlike Cetina, Sims says he would welcome federally mandated healthcare.

Sims: “A lot of people are not going to the doctor and getting checkups or preventative health measures. I think it would help them a lot. I know I would be more inclined to go to the doctor and get checkups if I had healthcare insurance.”

Whether or not Texans are insured, the idea of federally mandated coverage brings out some strong opinions.

William Lyon from Mesquite firmly opposes it.

Lyon: “Individually I think we should have our right to choose what we want to without government intermission. Individual rights are being stamped on we need to be able to choose for ourselves and let the government do what it wants to and leave us alone.”

But while this issue is polarizing, some people, like Ann Stranahan, are simply torn.

Stranahan: “I think healthcare is important for everyone. I don’t think the Constitution said we had to have healthcare, that wasn’t one of the inalienable rights, but again, as a social nation, I think we do need to. And ultimately we pay for it whether there’s national healthcare or not.”

If the Supreme Court upholds mandated health coverage, it will go into effect in Texas and elsewhere in 2014.

The healthcare hearings will continue tomorrow and Wednesday at the U.S. Supreme Court.