Obamacare vs Broccoli by AJ Lawton

04/04/2012 - 11:01

Obamacare vs. Broccoli

This week the Supreme Court had three days of hearings on The Affordable Health Care Act. This will be one of the biggest decisions in decades, and by far the most politicized. Whichever party gets their way, the decision will be touted as total victory for that side. The main constitutional debate that the court will be deciding on will be one key provision within the bill, and that is the individual mandate.

It is clear from the tone of the more conservative Justices that they have already made up their minds. What worries me is that the conservative justices whom are supposed to be impartial, have clear ties to tea party and anti-healthcare groups that are much more zealous in their position on the bill. Clarence Thomas’s wife is a founder of a tea party style group campaigning against healthcare, and some decisions like Bush V. Gore, reek of conservative activism. It will be a very split decision, but I do have faith that the majority of the court will find it constitutional under past legal precedents like Social Security and Medicare.

First of all, if the court rules against the Obama administration, the court can only rule against the individual mandate. It does not have the authority to throw out the entire law unless it reviews that entire law, and even that would be a deep stretch of its powers. But what the conservative movement against the mandate has argued is that if the government can mandate buying insurance, then what’s to stop it from mandating you to buy a car or a movie or the almighty broccoli? That is a stupid argument. The reason why the individual mandate is an important mechanism, a mechanism originally created by Republicans in the 90’s and supported up until 2007 by them I might add, is because when you have a market of insurance holders that is only sick people, or only a portion of the population, then insurance is more expensive for everyone because there is a smaller pool of money going to a needier population. Also, believe it or not, everyone needs medical care at some point or another in their life, and accidents happen. At no point could the government mandate another product because no product is like health insurance and no product has such a profound effect on the economy. When uninsured people go to the emergency room and cannot pay the bills because medical care out of pocket is so expensive, that cost is in turn passed onto the tax payers. By having people get the market they will at one point or another need, it reduces costs across the board. We are the only industrialized country without national healthcare, and we pay more per person as a result.

And what if the mandate is struck down? The Affordable Care Act has already done so much good and it is unlikely that more than the mandate would be reversed. You can stay on your parents insurance until you are 26. You cannot be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. There are incentives to convert the medical system to electronic records to reduce clerical errors and ease information transfer. Online exchanges are being created so people can choose plans specific to them and at a more competitive rate. It reduces the deficit in 10 years and provides coverage to 32 million more American’s with more competitive rates in exchanges and subsidies according to the CBO. Despite what the conservative think tank says, it would break this country financially if the act were repealed rather than allowed to go forward.

The math into the bill was modeled off of Mitt Romney’s plan in Massachusetts, which was a success. Despite his backing away from the bill, had it stayed popular for republicans of late, trust me he would have tattooed Romneycare to his chest. I’d also like to point out that the Obama administration gave states the option to take any of the funding necessary to cover more people at less cost than the Obama plan, and none of them have been able to meet the offer. The 26 Republican led states filing the suit are trying to crusade against the administration to set their own agenda and just stick it to a president they dislike, even though he is by all definitions a very centrist president.

The Affordable Healthcare Act may not be perfect, and it was watered down a lot more than it should have. But it is the most legitimate attempt at reforming our shattered healthcare system, and does so with reducing the deficit according to the CBO, which is nonpartisan. The proposals from Republicans like the Paul Ryan proposal are not serious, involving privatization, vouchers, and unrealistic cuts, not to mention the cynicism to cooperate on anything with democrats that would benefit the country, but not the Republican’s politically because they are desperate to reclaim Capitol Hill. I would think that it would be crazy talk to think Republicans would reject serious health reform of any kind for the sake of it being under a democratic president, but after watching them the past 3 years do that for almost everything else, and do almost nothing for the progress of this nation, I would not be surprised. The court’s ruling in a few months won’t change that harsh political reality.




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