Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Right Prescription for "Obama Care" at The Roberts' Supreme Court

It's the second day of arguments before the Supreme Court on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. All detractors and some proponents call this "Obama Care". It's a program passed by both Houses of Congress two years ago, designed to phase in a public-private health insurance reform estimated to cover 95 percent of all Americans in a few years.  It is neither a single-payer system many nations have, not is it a total free-market approach that would treat health care like an ordinary consumer item such as personal computers, cable or satellite television access or tangerines.

The latest  and most contentious part of the argument is the health insurance mandate that would require people to buy health insurance. The issue seems to have ignited a fervor on the parts of many conservatives that somehow being compelled to buy health insurance is an assault on basic liberty and is therefore unconstitutional. 

It is clear from the media analysis and audio transcript of this day's argument before the High Court that many of the conservative justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts,  are seemingly skeptical of a mandate.  To these justices, a physician may as well be a grocer.

"Liberty" is something most people covet;  conservatives especially prize the idea of living a life with as few barriers as possible.   Who wants to be needy? But when it comes to health services we are not sure when neediness arises; much as many would like to stand on liberties, the rights we covet  need to be tempered whenever we are in need of assistance from the larger community.    


Ironically, the individual mandate idea came from the conservative Heritage Foundation and was endorsed by both Mitt Romney (who implemented it during his stewardship of a health care law as governor of Massachusetts) and Newt Gingrich.  Both these men now repudiate it. It may be that the messenger now being a Democratic US President has caused them to choose fanning flames of division over common sense principles.   

The practical matter is that anyone who is human and not a spirit can fall ill or get hit by a bus or assaulted from behind  in the street or have a vehicular accident. A parent can have  a family member or child develop a cancer or some other terrible condition.  Right now anyone who comes to an emergency room with a serious condition that requires treatment has to be given medical assistance and that can be costly.   Having everyone covered by health insurance would help reduce the drain on public expenditures. 

  To live in a nation where a family doesn't lose insurance coverage when a breadwinner is laid off or or a small business fails we need to have a health system that recognizes  people are not invulnerable to disease.  

You can go to a gym or walk ten miles a day and just eat apples and water and, even then,  STILL get sick or hurt or have a child who contracts leukemia. Anyone might  be brought unconscious and hurt  to a hospital and if you don't have insurance and the bills are astronomical the tax payer sooner or later will have to pay what you can't.   

S**t sometimes just happens.  It's part of being human. 

Right now the feeling is the individual mandate for health insurance, the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, may be in trouble in the SCOTUS and no one knows how it will be ruled upon. But we all know, deep down, that life and health is not a ordinary consumer product.  It is unique. And, like it or not,all Americans, save a few very wealthy billionaires,  are all subject to the national health apparatus no matter what anyone's  philosophical qualms. 


The individual mandate isn't perfect but it's what we have and I hope it is retained.  It's not a total cure, but it's a rational and reasonable "treatment" than what has been "prescibed"  by any President  or session of Congress before recent times.  


  1. What we need is a single-payer system.

    What we got in the Affordable Health Care Act is unworkable. If striking it down and sending it back, saying "Give us something that really works!" is what's necessary, then I'm in favor of that.

  2. Doug almost all Republicans (Conservatives) loved it when it was their idea.

  3. But I like Broccali so I will buy it!

    Its so stupid the R's are all against it when they were all for it a few years ago.....did their brains suddenly stop functioning? Do they have amnesia all of a sudden? Its only because the D's are for it that they are against it....what a country we live in.
    And I agree, we need a single payer system like other countries have.

  4. Robert Reich wrote a blog today on that very subject, Will. If the mandate is struck down, I hope it works out that way. I just think that result is a bit optomistic, but I could be wrong.

  5. Oh, did they ever Mike! A pack of hypocrites if you ask me.

  6. I think they are counting on GOP voters being more angry at a Democrat (Obama) just for being President than they are on being consistent thinkers, Marty.

    I hope something good comes of all this.

  7. At this point, I'm done with half-measures.

    Obama called in every marker he had or could buy in order to get that agglomeration passed - and it really is the worst of everything.

    If we look at other nations, which have stood-up a single-payer system right alongside private insurance, those systems work. Taxes cover the system. Anyone who wants to buy, or is covered by, private insurance can use that, too.

    Both systems coexist nicely - mainly because these governments have severely regulated their medical care systems so they're not outpacing inflation by 1,000% per year in some cases, as what happens here in the U.S. of A.

    What the government doesn't do is tell private insurers that they have to cover everyone - and they don't tell everyone that they have to buy insurance from an unregulated system.

    Why this is so damned hard for our elected officials to understand is quite beyond me.

  8. Will, I won't argue that single-payer isn't a better system.

    The system we should have was blocked by the GOP of course and "independent" Senators like Joe Libermann, "the Senator from Aetna" because Connecticut is ground zero for the medical insurance industry.

    Even Switzerland--where many of the wealthy all over the world park their money--- has a medical insurance system that is more liberal than what was passed though Congress.

    Yeah, Switzerland--that bastion of "state-run economic planning". ;-)
    I like the regulation idea and the two-tier system idea. But despite the great Wall Street mortgage bond meltdown of 2007-08 regulation is a dirty word and all the "would-be millionaires" in trailer parks and regular neighborhoods around this great nation aren't smart enough to vote their own interests!

    Bit of a vent here. We now resume our regularly scheduled blogging.

  9. I have not been privy to read up on all of this of recent but a friend of mine here was speaking on this and what ramifications that might come out of it as there are many sides of which too look at this - I feel Doug that this is one area which Obama shall have the most to tackle with as it could very well introduce democratic socialized medicine, just worded within another way.

  10. In the short or long run, I believe what you are saying will come to pass, Jack. I'm glad to see so many others who have taken the trouble to comment are also in a similar frame of mind on the health care issues down here.

  11. Doug the best way I can summarize it is that it's like being a tourist or living within lands and understanding both cultures and societies. When I read over the Obama's structure of what he is doing with health care it is so similar to what is here and often I find that many within America don't understand what universal health care is. For the most part I see the very same structure which Obama has placed together and I believe it's very similar to that of a socialized or private health care where the each have the choice. Yet I believe that anything that has the word socialized equates for many something which they don't understand. Of what I see within Obama's plans are the blue prints of what we have up here. Yet he has massaged it in different words yet - it if I had time to calculate it all out I think it could be a good option as what the President is placing out with the exception of a few things is literally what we have here.

    But I still do maintain that one has to factor in the population and cost of deployment. It would be most interesting on a per capita basis to see if this would work as Canada is of a much smaller number in population.

  12. No, many don't understand it, Jack, and some of this has to do with the lobbyists and politicans scaring them with stories of people being killed by doctors against their will. It's really odd to me to see that a nation like Canada--with open elctions and multiple political parties, can have a system like spends less money per capita and takes care of all its citizens. Not prrfectly, but nothing is perfect and the current system is a long way from that.

    The system Obama proposed and the Congress approved is still called "socialism" when few if any socialists would claim it. It doesn't end private insurance; it promotes it really.

    The very word "socialism" in the USA is packed with a sort of rhetorical dynamite that cuts off debate in certain sectors. It's part of the culture.