Thursday, June 28, 2012

Health care: The decision (UPDATE)

UPDATE: Color me stunned. The Supremes found in favor of Obamacare.

I'm also a little stunned that CNN could get it so wrong.

"And there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour," as John the evangelist once said. (I always wondered if there were clocks in heaven.) All is quiet in punditland, as everyone drinks in the meaning of it all. We do not often stand witness to so profound and unusual event. How could so politicized a court -- so conservative a court -- not find grounds for overturning Obama's key legislative attainment? The decision was authored by Justice Roberts -- the Dubya appointee.

I suspect that the reason has to do with the fact that Obamacare is unpopular. The Supremes have not left Romney bereft of an issue that favors him.

On the other hand, Obama comes out of this looking strong. People like a winner. (Or so the axiom has it. Personally, I've never met anyone who rooted for Santa Ana while watching a movie about the Alamo.)

Republican Senator Jim DeMint favors unconstitutional and borderline treasonous means of rejecting the new law. This bodes ill. 

Question: Does the Supreme Court's decision make the goal of single payer health insurance more or less attainable? There are those who argue that Obamacare is a "step toward" a truly progressive health care system. I am not at all persuaded by such arguments.

And yet -- if the new system should develop problems, will the citizenry really want to go back to a non-system that leaves so many without coverage?

(What follows is the post I wrote before the Supremes announced their decision.)

In less than an hour, the Supreme Court will announce a decision on Obama's health care plan. Within liberal circles, people are psychologically prepping themselves for a reversal. The folks at FDL think that striking down Obamacare will mean that true single payer may have a shot. As one reader put it...
Everyone, even the conservative justices, agree that single payer would be Constitutional.

It presents the best possible system.

the current law is an abomination that would take decades to morph into a single payer system. So, its death will be welcomed by all except maybe one person running for re-election.
Hm. Would the Supreme Court consider single payer constitutional?

If Romney gets into office -- an excellent bet -- he'll choose justices who make Scalia look like Mother Theresa. Surely such a court will find some grounds for challenging the constitutionality of single payer...?

If that happens -- we will be truly screwed.

I'll have something to say about the decision in a short while. I'm expecting the Court to scuttle the thing entirely.
Since Christopher Hitchens is unavailable to comment, let me say that Mother Theresa is no liberal, even compared to Scalia.
Roberts jumps ship? What happened?
The Republicans want Obama to win. He can't do anything, he doesn't even want to do anything, and they can trumpet their propaganda about a failed 8-year experiment in socialism if he does another four years.
Robert Reich explained it yesterday when he said the USSC would uphold it.

The USSC has taken a big beating since Bush v. Gore with so many clearly political decisions, and Roberts' vote was likely to help the court save face.
What it means is the deconstruction of Social Security through the use of government mandated private annuities may proceed as planned.

Meanwhile poorer/unemployed people will be fined for not buy buying high deductable insurance where even when the insurance pays [and it always tries not to] for a major illness the insured declares bankruptcy. Say you are making median wage of $26,364 [2010-HuffPo] and you have a minor heart attack with an average cost of 76,0000.00 USD [2010-CBS]. Assuming, your insurance pays [a big assumption on individual policies], your 6,000.00 USD deductable will be eaten up in one go [that's where the good news ends], with an 80/20 split on the remaining 70,000.00 USD you will pay 14,000 in addition to the 6,000.00 for a total of 20,000.00 USD! Let's you are 50 years old, you've been paying about 270.00 USD [CNN-2009] per month, or 3240.00 USD per year and lets say we split that in half, your out of pocket expense is 21,620.00 USD for the heart attack alone. That's about 120% of your after payroll tax yearly to bankruptcy court you go.

If you own a house, you will lose it, because lost work time means you missed at least three payments, so our median wage "insured" heart attack victim losses everything under the Democratic "insurance" plan. Nice going guys!

Not that everything is bad in the bill, it does improve around the edges, by enrolling more on Medicaid, instead of an estimated 60,000 needless deaths, we will have something closer to 35,000 needless deaths. That should thrust the US past 49th place [2010-Columbia University] in health care worldwide. But let's be clear, by forcing additional costs onto states, who are already in financial straits, States are compelled to cut elsewhere. Gee, who do you think gets the short end of that stick? The 1 percent?

Since the economic downturn in 2007 about 100,000 [American Progress] per week have lost their health insurance, if they have already lost everything, they can apply for Medicaid under this program, if not, they will be fined for not having insurance until they lose everything and can then apply for Medicaid. As the economy slowly improves [maybe not, we could be headed for another recession] these folks will have every incentive NOT to take work, because they would lose insurance and start paying the fine instead. Republicans will be sure to make hay out to this "free loading" and start hacking at Medicaid.

This is what passes for wonkish "LIBERAL" health policy, no wonder the Supreme Court gave it a pass, it will gut liberal/progressive policy for the foreseeable future. When you see ignorant angry crowds of plebeians, egged on by Fox, wanting to string "Limousine Liberals" up by their necks, or voting "against their own interests" supporters of this monstrosity can be sure they played a vital role in the USA's declining standard of living.

Did I mention this does nothing to reduce the cost of Medical Care in the US, which is by a factor of 2, the most expensive in the world, which is the core problem? No? Sorry to go off topic, I know we don't do solutions in the USA any more.
So Congress could end the recession just by requiring everyone to buy a new car (or else face a hefty penalty/tax)!

They can arrest the slide in housing prices by requiring *everyone* to buy a house! If you can't afford a house, just pay a penalty/tax!

Happy days are here again!
Off topic but very currnt, the Eric Holder story suggests that you will need to update your Nancy Pelosi post.

As Roberts wrote in his majority decision, the court must give duly passed laws a presumption of being Constitutional, and if one construal would make it unConstitutional and another construal not, they must construe it so that it is Constitutional.

Which I never knew. (Roberts includes the case citations for these statements of binding SCOTUS precedent.)

Had Congress used the tax language, the exact penalty in place now was clearly Constitutional under the very broad taxation powers. They did not use that language, but the high court must in effect pretend they did for the purposes of determining Constitutional muster.

That would be true even if this point were not argued before the court or presented in briefs, but of course in this case, the tax equivalency argument was one of the arguments raised by the Solicitor General.

A top surrogate for President Obama insisted Friday that the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act was not a tax - despite the fact that the Supreme Court narrowly preserved the law on those grounds. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick [D] told reporters "This is a penalty," Patrick said. "It's about dealing with the freeloaders." In fact, in court arguments the administration said it was a tax*.

I agree with Gov. Deval Patrick [D] contention that the administration was being deceitful in arguments before the Supreme Court, where I would beg to differ is in the characterization by this DEMOCRAT [speaking for Obama] of the working poor as "free loaders". This statement should clarify for posterity how far removed the Democrats of 2012 are from the party of FDR.

The former Democratic Party of FDR overcame the world wide depression, the combined military power of the Nazi's & Imperial Empire of Japan, the scourge of segregation, all the while electrifying the nation, fighting a Nuclear Armed nation to a standstill, dramatically reducing poverty, landing a man on the moon and providing for the general welfare to such a degree that we were the envy of the world in 1969.

The current Democratic Party, is systematically returning the nation to a pre-FDR construct, more akin to 19th century economics, minus the benefits of Mercantilism along the lines of the discredited economist Milton Friedman. What a legacy to reject, what a waste, what a disgrace to return to the corruption that was endemic to the gilded age. I pity today's children who will live in a fallen empire when it crumbles from within.

*Solicitor General's Third Backup Argument Is a Winner in Health Law Case, - "Solicitor General Donald Verrilli cited the taxing power in the administration's third backup argument before the court" - American Bar Assc. Journal
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