OBAMACARE SURVIVES 5 TO 4 IN EXTRA INNINGS
By Steven Woodruff
Taxes, broccoli and Chief Justice Roberts are in. The interstate commerce rationale, the twenty seven states challenging the ACA legislation and Scalia are out. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. It will now be subject to the same modification and amendment process that other big legislation, such as Medicare and Social Security, undergo. While it is not perfect it represents an important step for healthcare in general and a possible step toward what may, one day, become a national insurance or single payer, government sponsored healthcare program.
The majority ruled that as a matter of simple taxation, the ACA and its central provision, a mandate requiring Americans to purchase insurance, were constitutional. Conservatives fought to deny this legislation from the outset. They still insist on repealing it (and President Obama while they’re at it) with the promise to produce good healthcare legislation of their own in the future. What that bill might look like is still a complete mystery. The ACA was created with little to none of their support or input because they were too busy for two years trying to blow up the legislation. On and on it went with the “death panels”, medical rationing canards, and scary screeds on ballooning deficits. You could see the remnants of those arguments today on the plaza in front of the Supreme Court building. Among the parading protesters one sign read: “Kill Obamacare, Not Grandma”.
But the arguments at the Supreme Court were strange from the beginning. Justice Scalia suggested that because one would have to buy food at some point that the government could make people buy broccoli. It was unbelievably trite arguing from a Supreme Court Justice. Where were the big ideas, complex reasoning and citations of precedent? Scalia, two days earlier, had gone off his rocker discussing his reasoning behind upholding a portion of the Arizona Immigration Law, an end of term decision that was also before the court. He suggested that it was not much different than the special restrictions on free blacks in the South following the Civil War. The line of reasoning was not earning him admirers, except possibly in Arizona.
I don’t share the big government fears of many of my pioneer citizens who are out there roughing it on their own, building suspension bridges, engineering automobile safety, and securing the smooth functioning of our ports and border installations. The big constitutional dust up comes mostly from those who have never read the document but waste their time with the souped up distillations of commentators, principally those camped out on the conservative playing field. For them I ask, where exactly are the big, burdensome losses? No insured is being asked to change coverage or switch doctors. The ACA gives many coverage they don’t already have. The insurance companies themselves are prohibited from fleecing insureds for profits by denying them care and dodging legitimate responsibilities when the endgame for actual treatment becomes clear. Most of the reasonable budget assessments point to savings over the long term and a lowering of medical costs. These are, after all, freedoms too, freedoms from being manipulated and then ignored by the big time, health insurance con.
Yet now, more than ever, the contrarians are sure that Roberts is just plain wrong and a kind of traitor to the cause. You get the feeling they might just haul him from the bench and chew his legs off. Bachmann, who speaks their language, ought to know. She flew back to Washington from Minnesota for the historic announcement and wasted no time blasting away at the Supreme Court for bringing about “the end of economic and religious liberty in America”. Bachmann was obviously steamed, even though the broccoli was not. Clearly, she wasn’t afraid to indulge in the standard, off-the-charts hyperbole.
And then there was an internet acquaintance of mine who had recently done some piling on with President Obama for signing, what she insisted on calling, “all those treasonous bills”. I was wondering how she felt now that the court had come down on the side of treason along with the President. It had to be something of a setback for her. Secretly, I was hoping it had made her nuts.
I recently bought into the PCIP insurance plan administered through HHS. It is a combination Federal, State program which serves as a bridge to the provisions of ACA which go into effect in 2014. It is excellent, affordable and serves those with preexisting conditions who would otherwise find coverage impossible to obtain. It is extremely efficient and the administration of the coverage operates very transparently. In the end, the crushing “loss of liberty” issues never materialized.