Edward White: How about a 6-3 Supreme Court vote in favor of the health care law, with Roberts, Kennedy voting to affirm it?
April 22, 2012 at 4:18 am
The hardest ticket to get in awhile was one to sit in the U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments about the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care for America Act. A lot is riding on the decision, expected to be issued in June.
If the court overturns the law or critical portions of it, such as the individual mandate, it will deprive tens of millions of households of health care. All children not over 26 who have been added to their family’s health care plan would again be without insurance. The Obama law allows such individuals to be added to their parents’ policies and provides coverage to 32 million previously uninsured.
If the court votes to overturn, the prohibition in the law that bans insurers from excluding pre-existing conditions would continue to the detriment of all those who have had any condition insurers view as costly — cancer, heart disease and many more. Such people are now insured because Obama health care mandates that pre-existing conditions must be insured.
Everyone who has not been on a long space voyage or otherwise isolated knows that health care costs have been rising rapidly. The typical cost of insurance for a family of four is about $20,000 per year. The family usually pays about 20 percent of the premium cost, while the employer pays about 80 percent, or $16,000, in this example. Additionally the employee has to pay for deductibles and co-pays, which have become significant.
The ACA will lower costs for insurance via insurance exchanges that aggregate small buyers’ demand to produce better prices. Cross-state buying would be encouraged, whereas now it often is prohibited. I can think of no better example to illustrate why federal regulation of this market is desirable and certainly legal. It creates price competition and lowers cost.
The ACA encourages preventive care through cost incentives to plan participants and required coverages. All kinds of preventive testing procedures would be exempted from deductible and co-pays to encourage people to take them.
The most effective cost control is that almost all Americans would be insured. Now, emergency room doctors treat more than 45 million uninsured in hospital emergency rooms in lieu of primary care doctors. ERs are inherently costly treatment facilities.
If these people used primary care facilities, hospital costs would shrink because hospitals increase their rates to you and to me to cover the cost of those they treat for free. Who wants to get rid of the individual mandate so people can get free ER service that gets added to all of our bills? The respected nonpartisan congressional budget estimates that the ACA will generate almost $1 trillion in cost savings over 10 years.
The final product is not a government-run medical system. Private insurers would run it, just as the current system is run, but laws would prohibit some odious practices. It does not socialize medical care. This law protects us from some of the worst abuses of private insurers.
There are no “death squads,” as alleged by the tea party and other quacks. When a private insurer denies you a lung, a kidney or a heart transplant, that is a death sentence and that happens all the time now.
The court has very little basis to overturn the law; however the court is sharply divided along political lines. Who knows what the conservative wing of the court will do. Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, a notable tea partyer, has campaigned against the ACA.
Hopefully, Justice Anthony Kennedy, the critical swing vote on the court, will vote to uphold and be joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, who would want to have a hand in crafting the majority decision to keep it as narrow as possible. That would insure an appropriate 6-3 decision in favor of upholding the law.
Maybe that will happen! It is my best guess.
Edward White is a member of the Indian River County Democratic Executive Committee. Email: Ewhite@indianriverdemocrats.net.