A number of organizations carry on the serious study of policy to advance conservative ideas for our country, among them the Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society and the Cato Institute. In Mississippi, the leading organization promoting policies of a limited government, free markets and strong traditional families is the Mississippi Center for Public Policy (MCPP).

Last week, the Federalist Society and MCPP sponsored a lunch discussion: "Is ObamaCare Good for Patients, Doctors, Employers, & State Budgets?" The forum at the Capital Club in Jackson featured Dr. Randy Easterling, President of the Mississippi State Medical Association; Gerard Gilbert, founder and CEO of Venture Technologies; and Marie Thomas Sanderson, Director of Federal Policy for Governor Haley R. Barbour. Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the "Cato Supreme Court Review" moderated the dialogue.

MCPP President Forest Thigpen started the program, "We do have a right to healthcare." Quite a surprising statement for someone who believes in limited government and a strict interpretation of the Constitution, until he explained. Thigpen said we all have the right to freely purchase and pay for services, to seek and contract with someone to deliver health care services in the free market. No one should make us choose who to see, what to pay them, or what medical services to receive. The irony of ObamaCare, Thigpen went on, is that it interferes with that right by dictating our personal and individual health care choices.

Shapiro introduced the forum participants and discussed the legal challenges against ObamaCare's "attempt to regulate noneconomic inactivity." He said in addition to Commerce Clause and Tenth Amendment challenges; the law exerts an excessive coercive contract on the states through its Medicaid regulations, and imposes unconstitutional "taxation" that serves a regulatory and not a revenue function.

Sanderson suggested that reforms are necessary to reduce the cost and burden of health care, but that ObamaCare "did nothing to address costs." In fact, she noted, the Congressional Budget Office revised its estimates to show an additional $115 billion in costs for the program. Currently, Mississippi will face a $200 million budget hole increase a year under ObamaCare's Medicaid requirements.

Under ObamaCare, Sanderson said, the state relinquishes local authority to the federal government including appointed bureaucrats in Washington DC directing how our elected Commissioner of Insurance runs his shop. This plan will dictate that Mississippi use a federal style health insurance exchange run by the government like in Massachusetts, rather than the business friendly model in Utah (which is similar to the program Gov. Barbour has advocated in recent legislative sessions). Regardless of which style you favor, Mississippians will not get to make that choice. She also noted the face-to-face recertification that has created Medicaid savings by reducing waste, fraud, and abuse could be removed by ObamaCare.

Gilbert echoed Sanderson's concerns, "This does nothing to solve the true challenges of health care. It doesn't solve any fundamental costs; it just shifts money from one account to another" and passes the financial burdens on to businesses and taxpayers. He said less tax and regulation would strengthen health insurance availability and cited South Dakota as a leader in creating a friendly environment for health insurance. He said one of the top opponents to allowing the health insurance industry to cross state lines was Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) who along with his colleagues feared insurance companies would flee New York and the northeast and reincorporate in South Dakota. So much of New York's budget revenue comes from the insurance industry, they cannot afford for such companies to move to more business friendly states.

Gilbert noted "the least sophisticated businesses will have to pay the most on professional fees to know what health credits they're entitled to" and how to comply with the law. The results: the creation of a huge bureaucracy and the increase of individual premiums. Small businesses will suffer as a consequence.

Easterling described ObamaCare's physician challenges. More than 60 percent of Mississippians are somehow dependent on Medicaid, the highest percentage in the country. Meanwhile, Mississippi has the lowest physician to patient rate in the country - fewer physicians for our patients. ObamaCare, Easterling said, will result in fewer people going into medicine as a career, and as a result, less qualified people entering and practicing in the health care field. Easterling also criticized ObamaCare's cuts to Medicare to fund Medicaid increases, which he described as cutting elderly benefits.

Easterling argued that true health care savings and health care quality improvements would only be found if we "put the responsibility for health care in the hands of the people and not in some government bureaucracy."

So, "Is ObamaCare Good for Patients, Doctors, Employers, & State Budgets?" The clear answer from these individuals is "no" on all accounts.

Brian Perry is a partner in a public affairs firm. Reach him at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms.