The Big Day

Breaking News: CJ Roberts tacks left to uphold mandate and Affordable Healthcare Law; then to the right to allow states not to expand Medicaid.

America must have some of the stupidest, least informed and most gullible people on earth, but that is another story. Today the Supreme Court finally announced their ruling that there will be comprehensive reform of our badly broken healthcare system during our lifetimes.

We learned that the 6 percent among us who don’t have insurance and don’t want it are required to have it or face a penalty*; and if the other 10 or so percent who don’t have health insurance, but want it can buy it.

John Roberts, as Zeus, ruling from on high. (DonkeyHotey)

Today we learned that the 20 or so percent of us with preexisting conditions will get to keep our health insurance or ever buy it again.

Today we learned our children up to 26 can stay on our policies or finally be forced to leave the nest and do without healthcare.

Today we learned health insurance companies will have to spend money on covering the people they insure and prove it.

Today we learned preventive care to save money (and lives) is something that can survive in our late stage form of capitalism.

Today we learned we are to get health insurance exchanges to allow us to simply and clearly compare policy costs and coverage.

Today we learned our seniors’ prescriptions will not again have a “doughnut hole” of coverage forcing countless people to do without.

Today we learned small business tax breaks will continue.

Today we learned that the 13 million adults and 3.7 million children living within 133 percent of the poverty level will be allowed access to healthcare through Medicaid – if the state in which they live isn’t so stupid as to opt-out of the 100% federally paid program – first three years and then matched on a sliding scale thereafter – today we learned that our federal government cannot penalize a state for not taking care of some of its least fortunate citizens, but we can penalize them at the ballot box.

Today we learned that those working Americans who cannot afford health insurance because they are within 400 percent of the poverty level, will get some tax credit help.

Today we learned that we are going to continue to provide healthcare to seniors, the disabled, government workers, prisoners and some of the poorest among us, while tens of millions of working and recently unemployed Americans will no longer be denied healthcare and receive help to afford it.

We already know that this is about Republican politics and the corrupt lobbying power of their masters and that any suggestion of an independent judiciary evaporated a decade ago.

We expect that Sotomayer, Breyer, Kagan and Ginsburg will, at the very least, vote to preserve most of the intent of Congress.

We knew that Scalia, Thomas and Alito would nullify the entire bill. Roberts would naturally join them unless Kennedy negotiates a narrower decision on the Commerce Clause or jumps to the other side. That didn’t happen. Kennedy stayed with the Republican nominated justices. Together they decided this was not a valid extension of the the Commerce Clause. It was Roberts who would cast the deciding vote. Citing Hooper v. California, Roberts felt “every reasonable construction must be resorted to, in order to save a statue from unconstitutionality” and concluding the law was Constitutional because it was within the right of Congress to levy a tax on individuals who do not have insurance.

The bill before the court was terribly flawed (see my Dew story when the bill passed, Hold your nose and swallow), but throwing out the entire bill with this Congress would have been devastating in lives and at terrible cost to our economy. However, a more limited ruling would have made for great political sport watching this or the next POS Congress try come up with a compromise bill to fix the problems.

In retrospect, it would have been so simple, if two years ago, President Obama had just fired Rahm Emanuel and asked Congress for a one page bill that allows all Americans to purchase Medicare at any age. Then a separate bill on expansion of Medicaid. Maybe next time.

11 thoughts on “The Big Day

  1. hannah

    Medicare for all can be set up via the budget reconciliation process, since it is an existing program and, being self-funded, won’t affect the deficit. That would largely wipe out private insurance, but it would make the un-constitutional age discrimination in the current system go away.

    Reply
  2. Trevor Stone Irvin

    Good piece Lee, but I’m betting we’re screwed. It
    would be so pleasant to see at least one of Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Alito,
    Scalia, Thomas or Roberts choke to death on a fish bone.

    T

    Reply
  3. Meg Gerrish

    All I know is, I am now free to move about the country, which was not true before since my insurance didn’t cover outside of Florida and NO ONE was going to cover me and my $50,000 a year medication ($44,000 after the deductible). The days when this med for controlling MS was a mere $900 a month, and then $1,600 a month, and then $3,200 a month, etc, are a sweet dream in sight of the $4,200 it now costs. Or wait! Maybe not! Maybe that drug company will be forced to give less to the executives and shareholders, and quit gouging the sick! Huh. We shall wait and see …

    Reply
  4. Lee Leslie

    Whew. For the past couple of weeks, I was beginning to think the health insurance, pharma, hospital and equipment lobby has lost their influence over the court, and that this greatest of all stimulus programs wouldn’t go into effect. In the end, I guess Roberts didn’t want to influence the outcome of another presidential election, at least not with this issue. I am relieved for Pelosi, Reid, the legacy of Teddy and most of all President Obama for the blood, sweat, tears and political capital exhausted. Two years from now, a lot of hate-sayers are going to love this. I think that I’ll celebrate by making an appointment to have a colonoscopy.

    Reply
      1. Lee Leslie

        Not to celebrate or not to have a colonoscopy? I was joking, though I know there is nothing funny about a colonoscopy, unless you laugh at the sounds made in the recovery room.

        Reply
  5. Trevor Stone Irvin

    Wow! I can’t say I understand Roberts reasoning but I’ll take
    whatever scraps we can get from that lousy court.
    T

    Reply
  6. tom ferguson

    always amazing, U.S. politics: 60-70% favor a single-payer system but the politicos & pundits revealingly say it’s not politically viable… showing just who must support something, and it’s not the 99%, for it to be “viable”.

    Reply
  7. Eileen

    Thank you for this educational summary. As I did not pay into your system (I immigrated at age 68 to be near five of my grandchildren), I am exposed to the full cost of health insurance. Before I qualified for Medicare after five years residence, I was paying $923 a month to Anthem Blue Cross with 1500 deductible, in case something expensive occurred like a heart attack or cancer, which could bankrupt me within weeks without insurance. (Mere prudence at my age.) In fact I never reached the deductible limit as my needs are modest. But that whacking payment (over $11,000 p.a.) consuming all my pension and some, provided the princely contribution of $1.50 towards $75 visits to my GP for check-ups, which I naturally kept to the minimum. Where did all that money go? Now Medicare and Well Care at $600 per month are covered by my pension and I am grateful for them. I live on dwindling capital.
    Your One Page bill providing Medicare for all Americans at any stage sounds like a dream. I wish it was an American one.

    Reply

Leave a Reply