How The Individual Mandate Passed
The debate about how the healthcare system should work has been something that I think plenty of American citizens have been confused and unsure about for quite a long time. I personally don’t know how I think it should work in terms of insurance, which I think is the real hot button issue. I realize that in many countries the government plays the role of insurance company for the health care industry, and in the world’s industrialized nations they pay a lower percentage of their GDP (their nations overall economic activity) on healthcare than the United States. And yet they still manage to have a longer life span… Yet, while this is true, emergency care in the United States is almost unarguably the best in the world, and private industry has spurred a lot of medical developments that have helped a lot of people. So there are arguments to be made for whether or not the government should play a role as medical insurance provider.
With the healthcare debate back in the picture I thought that it would be good to post something that would be telling of the reasoning behind the big decision that was just made by 5 of the justices in the United States Supreme Court.
The key component to the Affordable Care Act is that there would be a mandate for American citizens to have private medical insurance. This became a quick point of contention for a lot of conservatives who found this to be government overreach – and while this may be true it is also true that the idea of an individual mandate was designed by conservatives/Republicans (at the Heritage Foundation) in the 1990’s. This means that at some point this was a Republican goal but has now become highly offensive.
Probably the 2 most surprising things about the decision by the court to rule the ACA and the mandate constitutional was: that Chief Justice Roberts (very conservative) was the deciding vote, and that it was ruled constitutional under the Tax Authority rather than under the Commerce Clause as many people suspected. The assumption about the ruling being based on the Commerce Clause lead a few news networks to actually misreport the ruling (as Justice Roberts first explained that the bill wouldn’t be constitutional under the Commerce Clause). What he had to say about that was quite compelling actually, and helped me understand the reasoning for the ruling. I have posted the passage below on the reading of the ruling about why the Commerce Claus didn’t fit.
I have competing feelings about this being ruled a tax, but the more that I think about it the more that I think it might make sense, as the court explains that the government should not use regulation to compel citizens to get into the market. However, I do have a hard time with the ruling being called a tax due to the nature of the flow of money. Tax dollars are supposed to be representative of a national endowment and investment, and if they are just going straight to a corporations it’s unlike any other tax as far as I understand. I know that tax dollars often go to very specific/select groups often including corporations, but they always have to go through the government first (ie: the government pays Black Water and other military contractors), but with this “tax” it will never go through a means of making sure that funds are being used for the people, the average consumer.
I am trying to be optimistic. I understand the arguments about the Commerce Claud, and the Tax Authority both being innapropriate, but I do believe in making our healthcare more affordable, and that is one thing that a mandate inherently is supposed to do. And I would like to see America have a system open to making sure that average people aren’t taken advantage of, while the market place can remain competitive for hard working Americans…
Whether or not I end up thinking that Justice Roberts was right I do respect him taking a risk of losing popularity and possibly his reputation for the rest of his life… Conservatives, feel free to criticize him if you think he was wrong, but don’t call him a coward, that was anything but cowardice.
If you’d like a copy of the final ruling click here:
Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act
It’s interesting how much more something sticks out on a page when it is highlighted…