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Health reform alive and well

By Jay MacDonald · Bankrate.com
Friday, February 4, 2011
Posted: 10 am ET

As expected, Florida U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled this week in favor of a Florida-led lawsuit filed by 26 states to block health care reform.

Vinson's ruling, like that of Virginia Judge and fellow Republican appointee Henry Hudson in December, found unconstitutional the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, that requires all Americans to obtain health insurance beginning in 2014. Unlike Hudson, Vinson ruled that the individual mandate was not severable, and therefore voided the entire act.

Two Democratically-appointed judges previously upheld the ACA, which seems to indicate that the court is evenly split on health care reform so far -- coincidentally or not, along party lines.

Legal eagles predict the fate of the ACA will ultimately come down to a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court, with centrist Reagan nominee Justice Anthony Kennedy considered the swing vote.

But we're kidding ourselves if we think the fate of health care reform will rest on legal parsing alone, what with the nation in the throes of a tsunami of change.

Many of the reforms -- coverage for pre-existing conditions, eliminating lifetime limits, expanded coverage for young adults and early retirees, closing the Medicare prescription "doughnut hole" and free preventive care for seniors, just to name a few -- are already in place. States have received federal grants to help them build the infrastructure of their own health exchanges. Many of those states will introduce legislation this spring to provide funding next year to meet the Jan. 1, 2013, deadline to have their exchanges certified, up and running.

Bottom line? By the time the Supreme Court rules, which may not happen until 2012, much of the Affordable Care Act will be a fait accompli. Save of course for the individual mandate, which, as I find myself pointing out ad nauseam, is the one component of the act that all sides agree is essential in order to make health care reform economically feasible for the health insurance industry.

So what we're really fighting over at this point is ideology. Wednesday's pro forma defeat of repeal in the Senate pretty much ended the largely symbolic crusade in Congress to force a do-over. Now that that's done, perhaps we can move on to more constructive pursuits.

While the repeal and replace rabble-rousers will no doubt continue to rattle their Rolexes, health reform is already here, alive and kicking. To the everlasting relief of most Americans.

Do you really think the Supreme Court will vote to undo the monumental progress that has already been made as a result of health care reform and risk the potential fallout, especially in an election year?

I don't.

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7 Comments
Lost In This World
February 06, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I could'nt have said it better myself. I believe you have covered all there is to be said about obamacare Stuart Singer.

Robert Tuloch
February 04, 2011 at 4:08 pm

If the scenario above plays out and obama violates his oath of office, we will overthrow the government.

Stuart Singer
February 04, 2011 at 11:50 am

This debate on the individual mandate is a true dilemma. On the one hand, every individual other than those who truly are impoverished has a responsibility to pay for whatever healthcare services they and/or their family members may need during their lifetimes. Since, no one can predict their future health, which includes accidents and other external incidents, the only way to ensure against a catastrophic financial loss is to have healthcare insurance. Most Americans could not afford to pay their medical expenses out-of-pocket. Because hospitals are required by law to treat everyone regardless of their insurance status, those with no healthcare insurance or policies that cover very little eventually will wind up in the "system" and run up huge medical bills that they won't be able to pay. Those losses then will be passed on to 3rd party payors (insurance companies) who simply will pass the costs on to their responsible policyholders with higher premiums. This is analogous to someone owning a house or car that isn't insured and, if it is destroyed or damaged, the rest of us pay to have those things repaired or replaced. That is a slap in the face to anyone who takes responsibility by protecting themselves with insurance.

On the other hand, if government is to mandate that everyone have healthcare insurance, then it was incumbent on them also to have ensured that the cost to have it is as low as possible. That only could have been achieved under a single-payor (federal government) system where prices for services, including drugs could have been strictly controlled. Instead, the Republicans and some Democrats in Congress that are "in the pockets" of the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, killed that opportunity and started a deliberate scare campaign with idiotic and untruthful claims of socialized medicine (ignoring what Medicare and the Veterans Healthcare System are) and death panels, among others. Astonishingly, they convinced the American people that a comprehensive universal coverage health insurance program with lower premiums was bad for them.

So here we are, having to choose between allowing deadbeats to get a free ride in healthcare or being required by law to pay outrageous premiums and payments to private insurance and pharmaceutical companies with their obscene profits. Adding to the outrage is that every other industrialized country manages to provide all of their citizens with exceptional healthcare services at a fraction of what it costs us here. Only in America with its corrupt political system do we have to endure this kind of insult while our own people continue to suffer and die needlessly and the country is drowning in debt.