published Friday, June 29th, 2012

An epic health care victory

The U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision Thursday upholding almost all of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate to purchase health insurance at its core, is an epic victory not just for the Obama administration and its Democratic supporters. It is, more importantly, a long-sought and urgently needed victory for all Americans. It sets the course for secure, affordable, comprehensive and universal health care -- a level of care that cannot be capriciously denied by a callous health-care industry that has long elevated outsized profits over provision of adequate care for all Americans.

Surprisingly, the court's majority decision hinged on -- and was written by -- Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and not Justice Anthony Kennedy, the usual swing vote between the court's conservative and liberal wings. More surprising was Chief Justice Robert's view that the constitutionality of the health-care reform act -- and, specifically, the individual mandate to purchase health insurance -- is rooted in the federal government's right to impose a tax in needed circumstances, and not in its authority to regulate interstate commerce. The administration had argued for the latter, which the federal government has used for more than 60 years to regulate economic activities that broadly impact Americans everywhere.

Either should be acceptable. The ACA's individual mandate, facilitated with the help of wage-based subsidies for most middle-class Americans, would necessarily function as a health care tax for a system that more fairly regulates and funds basic comprehensive universal health care.

Insurance exchanges upheld

Under the reform act, state governments are required by 2014 to establish insurance exchanges in which insurers must offer competitively priced health insurance under minimum comprehensive care standards for all comers at flat rates. With federal subsidies for most wage-earning Americans, that will enable the needed expansion of insurance pools for ordinary Americans in the gap between Medicaid for the truly poor and Medicare for seniors. That's especially needed in states like Tennessee, where less than 55 percent of employers sponsor employee health care insurance, which in many cases is skeletal at best.

If states fail to establish the exchanges (Tennessee has so far taken no steps to do so), the federal government will intervene and establish them. The standards for the exchanges, and for health insurance companies generally, will ban insurers' current use of pre-existing-condition clauses for adults; their use of annual and lifetime limits on needed care; and their common abuse of canceling customers' insurance for a range of technical, fine-print provisions when they become ill. Exchange policies will also require several levels of comprehensive care, including preventive care.

Beyond the exchanges, all health insurance companies will be required to meet ACA regulations instituted last year that require them to spend a minimum of 80-to-85 percent of their income from customers' premiums for their customers' health-care needs.

The ACA's reforms -- several of which are already in place -- will quickly prove to be a godsend for all Americans when the act is fully implemented in 2014. Americans then would no longer have to worry what would happen to themselves, or to their family members, or their savings, if one is stricken with cancer or a serious or chronic health problem. Nor would the absence of employer-provided insurance invite disaster. The availability of affordable, comprehensive insurance through state exchanges, moreover, would mitigate the dreaded plague of personal bankruptcy driven by medical-care costs, which now constitute the lion's share of Americans' personal bankruptcies, and which lead to many premature deaths.

The Supreme Court's ruling in favor of these sweeping changes does not mean, as its critics claim, that the nation's health care spending will rise precipitously. In fact, it should fall as a percentage of the nation's gross domestic product, even as the country moves toward universal health care.

All other advanced industrial nations, from Australia to Japan to virtually all of the European nations, provide universal health care and achieve wellness indices that commonly surpass those in the United States. And they do so while keeping health-care spending down to 8-to-13 percent of GDP.

In the United States, conversely, health care spending has zoomed to 19 percent of GDP, and continues to advance faster than the general rate of inflation, while leaving 50 million Americans uninsured. These Americans' incomes are above the poverty level for Medicaid, but they typically go without health insurance because it's unaffordable, or because insurers reject them for pre-existing conditions.

The utter moral failure to provide a fairer, universal health-care system is needlessly killing too many Americans, and bankrupting others, while insurance and pharmaceutical industry executives are paid lavish fortunes for minimizing their so-called "medical losses" -- the percentage of revenue spent to actually provide health care for their customers.

GOP still panders for repeal

Regardless, Republicans rose again in lockstep Thursday to denounce the court's ruling and to promise to repeal "Obamacare," a term that they have made an epithet without offering a hint of a viable alternative. Voters who follow their cruel propaganda would do themselves -- and their family members -- a certain injustice and invoke a bleak health-care future to support repeal of health-care reform.

Indeed, though many have been misled by partisan Republicans to object to "Obamacare," most Americans, polls repeatedly prove, support the reforms the ACA has already introduced. These include: banning insurers' exclusion for children for pre-existing conditions, extending family coverage to children up to the age of 26, requiring insurers to cover preventive care and to spend 80-to-85 percent of revenue from customers' premiums on actual care, banning insurers' annual limits on coverage, and narrowing the "donut" hole in Medicare for prescription drugs. These and other pending ACA reforms are all necessary to lower overall health care costs and to bring more American citizens under the umbrella of insurance.

Americans are now on a course that, in 2014, will assure affordable, accessible and comprehensive lifetime health care for most citizens. That's a milestone half a dozen presidents -- Democrats and Republicans -- have tried to reach, and failed. The debate now should be how to improve the ACA, not how to dismantle it for fleeting partisan gain.

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Well, at least you mention that many provisions enjoy support.

Tell me, does the other side of the paper ever consult with you about information, or do they just ignore whatever facts don't support their narrative?

June 29, 2012 at 12:11 a.m.
joneses said...

This is not a victory for America but a huge step backwards towards complete government control. 70% of americans are against obastardcare

Obamacare says new CBS poll

Sovereign Man on JUNE 13, 2012

When Barack Obama came into office, one of his platforms was “health care for everyone”. Hence Obamacare was created and it is now scheduled to be examined by the Supreme Court over its constitutionality. In an election year however, this legislation may hurt his reelection chances as a new CBS poll reports most Americans are not in favor of the mandate in its current form: “… nearly seven in ten Americans want the Supreme Court to overturn either all or President Obama’s health care law or strike down just the individual mandate. In the poll released on Thursday, 41 percent of those polled think Mr. Obama’s health care law should be overturned completely by the Supreme Court, with another 27 percent of respondents saying they want the court to keep the law but overturn the mandate.

June 29, 2012 at 7:09 a.m.
Leaf said...

Hospitals applaud the law and insurance companies hate it. I choose hospitals.

June 29, 2012 at 10:17 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Yep, hospitals are probably more likely to be honestly concerned with supplying good care to those who need it, than any insurance company ever could be.

I think joneses's head is about to explode. Just in time for the 4th too!

June 29, 2012 at 10:56 a.m.
sjs823 said...

Given this ruling, is there anything the United States Government cannot compel me to do or force me to purchase -- by taxing me if I do not comply?

One more thing: "CHILDREN up to the age of 26" is such a sad statement. What age do people become adults these days?

June 29, 2012 at 11:49 a.m.

Doctors love the fact that they won't have to treat people without getting paid, doctors love how patients won't be denied coverage for spurious reasons, and doctors really hate dealing with insurance companies.

I bet if you offered Single-payer to doctors, they'd take it.

June 29, 2012 at 11:49 a.m.
Easy123 said...

sjs823,

The term "children" is there in reference to the parent's. You will always be your parent's child.

The rule is that the "child" can stay on the "parent's" insurance until the age of 26.

We can argue some more semantics if you would like.

June 29, 2012 at 1:05 p.m.
sjs823 said...

Yes, I would like to argue some more semantics. OK, Easy123, what about this? Since the mandate is a "tax" and not a "penalty" according to esteemed Justice Roberts, it is my understanding that the mandate can be overturned by a simple majority in the Senate without the need for a 60 person filibuster proof majority. The Republicans are going to have that majority come January 2013. Any thoughts?

June 29, 2012 at 9:29 p.m.
fairmon said...

The AHCA is now a validated law and the cost of not having insurance is a tax, one of many taxes to come. Taxes should be increased on all tax payers sufficient to balance the budget. Once that happens tax payers may wake up and react once the true cost of all the demands made of governments becomes known.

June 30, 2012 at 1:02 a.m.
mountainview said...

joneses if you are worried about more government control you should be paying closer attention to the republican agenda. They want to take away a woman's right to have an abortion (if you are against abortion DON"T GET ONE). They are passing voter suppression laws to keep certain demographics from voting. With big money pouring in from the top 1% like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson our democracy is being sold to the highest bidder. You should also have more respect for the President. It is President Obama. He was actually elected to the presidency and should be treated with the respect the office commands. As far as the Affordable Care Act it will be a great thing for the people of this country. You may be in good health or your employer may provide you with good insurance. If so then you are one of the lucky ones. I haven't been so lucky. I was self employed trying to keep a small business going. I had health insurance that was an individual policy. Every year the premiums increased. The policy didn't cover preventative care so I didn't go to the dr unless I just had too. I became ill & had to go to the dr office. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. My insurance kicked in after my deductible and paid my hospital & treatment bills. The next year my premiums went from $500 a month to $850 a month and that was raising my deductible to $5000. I scraped by and kept paying it. The next year it increased to $1050 a month with a $10,000 deductible. I was still under a doctors care and did without a lot of things I needed just to pay it. The next year it increased to $1250 a month. No way I could pay it. The insurance co didn't cancel my policy they just forced me out because I could no longer pay the premiums. the ACA will prevent insurance co from doing that. They can not turn you down for pre existing conditions, they can't drop you if you get sick, there will be no lifetime cap, preventative care will be covered, if you change jobs you can take your insurance with you. What exactly is there not to like? I believe this will help Americans not hurt them. You will not be "taxed" if you do not get insurance because you can not afford, only if you can afford it and still don't get it. You are required by law to have automobile insurance if you drive a car. If I were you I wouldn't hold my breath on republicans getting the senate majority. President Barack Obama will be elected for a second term and the senate will remain democratic party control and with the do nothing, party of NO, house they may regain some seats there as well. OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!

June 30, 2012 at 1:26 a.m.
joneses said...

ObamaCare Will Inflict Vast Array of Tax Increases Despite the absurd ruling by the activist Supreme Court, the individual mandate is a power grab, not a tax — not that there is any shortage of taxes in ObamaCare, as Americans for Tax Reform documents:

  1. Excise tax on charitable hospitals ($50,000 per hospital hike).
  2. Codification of the “economic substance doctrine” ($4.5 billion tax hike).
  3. “Black liquor” tax hike ($23.6 billion hike).
  4. Tax on innovator drug companies ($2.3 billion).
  5. Blue Cross/Blue Shield tax hike ($400 million).
  6. Tax on indoor tanning services ($2.7 billion).
  7. Medicine cabinet tax ($5 billion).
  8. HSA withdrawal tax hike ($1.4 billion).
  9. Employer reporting of insurance on W2.
  10. Surtax on investment income ($123 billion).
  11. Hike in Medicare payroll tax ($86.8 billion).
  12. Tax on medical device manufacturers ($20 billion).
  13. Raise haircut for medical itemized deduction ($15.2 billion).
  14. Special needs kids tax ($13 billion).
  15. Elimination of tax deduction for employer-provided retirement Rx drug coverage.
  16. Annual executive compensation limit for health insurance executives ($600 million).
  17. Individual mandate excise “tax”.
  18. Employer mandate tax.
  19. Tax on health insurers ($60.1 billion).
  20. Excise tax on comprehensive health insurance plans ($32 billion).

In return for all the $billions upon $billions being looted from us, we get to watch vast armies of petty tyrant bureaucrats cut us off from our healthcare system.

Ramming ObamaCare down the country’s throat despite mass public resistance is the Manchurian Moonbat’s only achievement of any significance whatsoever. He ran on the incessantly repeated promise that he would not raise taxes “one dime” on 98% of Americans. That is, he ran on a brazen lie. Yet there are people who would vote for him again.

June 30, 2012 at 7:11 a.m.
joneses said...

mountainview

And if you cared about America you would not be supporting this pathological lying POS you refer to as a president. Everything obastard has done has been a failure and obastardcare will fail as well. You and the rest of your mindless liberals are to stupid to see that. He is lying to you fool!

June 30, 2012 at 7:16 a.m.
joneses said...

111 Obamacare Waivers Issued So Far – The U.S. Health Care System Is Still A Complete And Total Nightmare By Michael Snyder on November 15, 2010 | More Posts By Michael Snyder | Author's Website Subscribe by RSSEmail/Share Page

In a stunning admission of just how job-killing and business-crushing the new health care law really is, the Obama administration has issued a staggering total of 111 Obamacare waivers (and counting) so far. The list of the dozens of companies and organizations that have been approved for a waiver is very, very deeply buried on the website of the Department of Health & Human Services. In fact, it takes six separate clicks to get to the list. Some of the companies that have been granted waivers include McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD), Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) (owners of the Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurant chains), Aetna (NYSE:AET), the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund in New York, and Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH). These Obamacare waivers cover a total of 1.2 million Americans. However, as news of these waivers spreads, it is inevitable that thousands more companies will want to apply. In the end, tens of millions of Americans may be covered by health plans that have been exempted from Obamacare. So can the rest of us get in on this action or is the Obama administration going to play favorites with these waivers?

June 30, 2012 at 7:25 a.m.
fairmon said...

joneses said...

These Obamacare waivers cover a total of 1.2 million Americans. However, as news of these waivers spreads, it is inevitable that thousands more companies will want to apply. In the end, tens of millions of Americans may be covered by health plans that have been exempted from Obamacare. So can the rest of us get in on this action or is the Obama administration going to play favorites with these waivers?

I think you will find the state of Nevada, Harry Reid's state, and some areas of Pelosi's district are also exempt. Many unions have also been granted exemptions. Like most government programs this will become a terribly expensive debt increasing mess.

If an individual has no objection to increased taxes then they should vote democratic. Those objecting to the new and pending taxes they would be better served voting republican. Congress and the president can add a tax or abolish or modify any tax they deem inappropriate.

June 30, 2012 at 10:07 a.m.
joneses said...

harp,

Remember when pelosi exempted American Samoa from the increase in the minimum wage because Delmonte Corp. was a big contributor to her campaign?

June 30, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.
fairmon said...

joneses...I do remember her supporting that exemption. She is the most dangerous and devious office holder in my memory. I generally agree or disagree with a politicians ideology without considering if I like or dislike them as a person. I have never hated anyone but I cannot stand, bordering on hate, the woman and her false plastic smile as she talks as if she is talking to very young children or like she is talking to uneducated people with no comprehension skill. I sent her opponent a contribution without knowing much about him.

June 30, 2012 at 4:55 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

I was glad to see that the Affordable Care Act was upheld.

June 30, 2012 at 9:16 p.m.
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