Thursday is usually the day that few people can really get the hang of. You’ve made it past the hump, but not quite to the weekend. However, Thursday, June 28 2012 will no doubt go down in history as a resounding judicial victory for the Obama administration as the Supreme Court voted to uphold the individual mandate and the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. That is, with a slight exception that lets states opt out of expanding Medicare coverage.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the opinion for the 5-4 majority, rejected the idea that the individual mandate falls under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which gives Congress the power to make laws that regulate interstate commerce. This is sound reasoning because people don’t shop for health care like they do for appliances. When you’re sick, yor don’t shop around for the best prices, you go to the closest place and try to get treatment.
He stated that the mandate does fall under Congress’s power to lay and collect taxes, stating “The payment is collected solely by the IRS through the normal means of taxation,” referring to the penalty people would have to pay for choosing to go without health insurance.
Before anyone starts crying socialism, let’s not forget that Republicans were in favor of the individual mandate when the Affordable Care Act was being debated. They suddenly changed their mind and called the individual mandate unconstitutional and socialism the minute that Obama indicated his support for the individual mandate.
In that respect, Roberts has shown his conservative colors by upholding the individual mandate. He has stated that the government should not be involved in anything resembling a single-payer system, which is what Democrats wanted in the first place. Instead, he kept the government out of paying for the system, let individuals make their own decisions, and stated that the government is simply choosing to tax your choice to not purchase health insurance much like they tax your choice to purchase cigarettes.
Conservatives have wasted no time putting out advertisements and pledges to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety and replace it with a plan of their own design that they refuse to disclose to the public. The Republican controlled House has gone as far as to vow a vote on complete repeal of the Act as early as July 9. Though this move has almost no chance of passing the Democratically controlled Senate, GOP governors are promising to ignore the Affordable Care Act until after the November election.
This brings to mind two very important questions: What is this magical plan the GOP wants to replace the Affordable Care Act with? Secondly, where do governors of states who are supposed to follow and enforce all federal laws get off saying they will ignore this one unless they get their way with a GOP controlled Congress and Presidency?
As I mentioned in the former paragraph, Republicans have not gone on record with the plan they wish to replace the Affordable Care Act with. So far, it seems that they would simply revert to the former status quo of insurance companies being able to reject people due to pre-existing conditions, charging women more for insurance than men, re-opening the “doughnut hole” in senior’s Medicare coverage, allowing insurance companies to institute outrageous co-pays for preventive services all while allowing insurance companies to give their CEO’s huge bonuses and salaries with our premium dollars.
Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act if elected president, stating in his trademark non-positional way, “Let’s make clear that we understand what the Court did and did not do. What the Court did today was say that Obamacare does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do was say that Obamacare is good law, or that its good policy. Obamacare was bad policy yesterday, it’s bad policy today. Obamacare was bad law yesterday, it’s bad law today.” I guess he forgot about Romneycare in Massachusetts and how it was in every way similar to the Affordable Care Act.
It also seems that the GOP governors who have vowed to ignore the Affordable Care Act are promoting lawlessness in this country, and failing to uphold their sworn duties as elected officials. They made a vow to defend and protect the Constitutions of their states and of the United States, not pick and choose which laws they want to follow in spite of a Supreme Court ruling that makes a law they oppose constitutional.
When all is said and done 30 million Americans will benefit from the Affordable Care Act. Insurance companies will have to use 80% of the premiums they collect toward providing preventive medicine and treatment for those who need it rather than searching for ways to reject a claim for health service. Companies will no longer be able to reject someone because of a pre-existing condition or charge women more for the same policy a man has. Several million 25 year olds will be able to remain on their parents’ insurance policies for another year while they sort out buying health insurance on their own. Seniors will be able to afford their groceries for the week and their prescriptions rather than having to make a choice between one or the other.
If Republicans want to repeal all of that, then it can hardly be stated that they have the interests of the entire nation in their minds.