The case Simkins v. Cone (1963) was a federal case that termed racial segregation in public facilities that received funds from the government was a breach of equal protection, as provided for by the U.S. Constitution. It happened that most hospitals in the South had refused to admit black patients at the same rate as white patients. Even though most hospitals in the South, particularly in North Carolina, were private entities, some of them received funds from state and federal governments. When George Simkins found out that Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital and other hospitals were receiving federal funds, he filed a suit against them. Simkins’ action can be interpreted through Paul Tillich’s perceptions of love, power, and justice. Licensing laws can be utilized positively if agencies responsible for the execution of laws operate through justice.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees every individual equal protection through service provision in the public facilities. The discrimination demonstrated by private hospitals that were receiving funds from the federal government led to a new interpretation of the Fifth Amendment, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment. The case Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital involved seeking a legal redress concerning racial discrimination in publicly funded hospital. The plaintiff sought an injunction to deny the defendants the power to exercise discrimination against Negro physicians from using hospital facilities based on their race. Additionally, the plaintiff wanted the court to stop the defendant from denying patients to be admitted in the defendant hospitals due to their race. The case seemed to emanate from inappropriate interpretation of licensing laws, which permit or restrict power among property owners. According to Tillich (1960), individuals can only evaluate power when they encounter another power that is either stronger or weaker than their own.
Licensing laws can be utilized effectively if individuals responsible for licensing exercise justice in their rulings. Justice involves actualization of power through love. Simkins’ action was triggered by love for human existence, and a reunion with the power. Love is manifested as a point where two bodies that were split team up for a reunion. Justice is perceived as “the form in which and through which love performs its work” (Tillich, 1960, p. 71). Justice upholds what love brings together and advocates for equality in service provision. Thus, when the court ruled against the private hospitals, it implied that justice was served in favor of love and equality. The act of discrimination is injustice to the affected society. The licensing laws should ensure that professionals uphold to justice as they attend to their clients.
Federal laws played a significant role in the spread of racial segregation among health care facilities. The Hill-Burton Act, which allowed some hospitals to receive federal funds after WWII, permitted some hospitals to restrict some people from accessing their services owing to their territorial locations (Teitelbaum & Wilensky, 2016). The courts did not prohibit this provision, until Simkins sought an appropriate interpretation of the Act. The ambiguity in what is perceived as power and love can create confusing consequences in the interpretation of laws. The licensing laws do not allow private health facilities to exercise racial discrimination based on the notion that they do not receive funds from the federal government. Discrimination is apparently an abuse of power. To execute a law is a demonstration of possessing power (Tillich, 1960). However, the law is not clear on how to exercise equitable share of resources, regardless of whether such resources are privately owned on are supported through public funding.
Licensing laws should not be influenced by competition, as some issues, such as health provision, do not rely on demand and supply. The antitrust laws assume that consumers, as well as the entire society, can be served appropriately when the markets become competitive. A competitive market is usually free from constraints, thus, social welfare is guaranteed through unregulated competition. This implies that regulation of professionals does not advocate for the public interest, but rather economic interests. In such cases, licensing laws are not utilized ethically to suit customers. The intervention of governments in the licensing of health facilities and professionals is meant to protect consumers from quacks.
Although licensing standards vary from one state to the other, some standards should apply in all states. States should not be responsible for supporting institution that discriminate some groups, as they have a responsibility of protecting interests of all citizens, regardless of their race, origin, or color. Justice should always prevail where power seems to favor one side. Licensing laws should strive to balance the power of competition with the power to protect every customer.
The quest of a legal strategy against discriminatory policies was driven by the love for justice. The case Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital led to the eradication of segregated healthcare in the U.S. where African Americans benefited from equal treatment in hospitals that received funds from state governments, as well as from the federal government. Poor execution of licensing laws may encourage discrimination, as individuals with power will always fight to maintain such power. The case helped in establishing the foundation for universal healthcare in the U.S., as most Americans can now access health facilities without fear of being discriminated. When those in power are driven by love, they exercise impartially without necessarily questioning the law.
Teitelbaum, J. B., & Wilensky, S. E. (2016). Essentials of health policy and law. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning
Tillich, P. (1960). Love, power, and justice: Ontological analyses and ethical applications. London: Oxford University Press.