We hold our collective breath this week. It is anticipated that the Supreme Court will announce its decision(s) regarding the Affordable Care Act. Will this be an outcome based upon policy or on politics? Recent history tells us that This Court is politically active and determined to lock in an ultra-conservative national agenda that will shape our country’s future for a period of time, for me, unimaginable.
I do not look to Ellis Henican (Newsday) for insight. But his Sunday column, Politics to Rule on Health Care, seems very much on target: Does anyone really believe the decision will be made strictly on the legal and constitutional merits? . . . Lately, Court decisions are more a matter of power and wrangling. Politics keeps trumping law.
If AFA should be overturned–or essential parts of the law are removed (let’s call it gutting)–the media will likely be asking, Should President Obama have gone the way of politics when crafting this complicated bill? Or, should he have remained true to principle and recognized the meed for a national mandate?
Let’s side aside, for the moment, that many/most of us (assuming we fall somewhere within the boundaries of progressive of liberal thinking) would prefer a public option or, better, Medicare for All as the health care reform model. Turn-of-the-century reality is that had AFA not retained a privatized system of health insurance, there would be no need for the Supreme Court to be ruling this week–or any subsequent week. There would have been no change to a system of providing health care that denied coverage to tens of millions, readily terminated reimbursements for those whose ‘coverage ran out’, uncounted Americans denied insurance due to a pre-existing condition, and so on.
Opposition to AFA is based solely on a political calculus that says if Obama is for (it), we’re against (it). Fill in the blanks–you decide what the ‘it’ is. This despite the fact that insurance companies have made immense profits from their addition of tens of millions of previously uninsured individuals and families.
Benefits of the bill remain two years away from kicking in. They would, in the long term, begin to reduce government cost. They would decrease future cost of coverage which. If the Court reverses the mandate for Americans to purchase insurance, we’ll be back to paying for all those once again uninsured and returning to emergency rooms for medical attention.
It’s not about helping many, many Americans become healthier. It’s about the politics of a very small number seeking political advantage. Consider this Pew Research Center analysis of media coverage of the legislation. Note the graph reflects data that is two years old.
Has big media (or small media) provided Americans a thoughtful, digestible overview of AFA since 2010? If it’s there, one has to look far and wide to find it.
We ought not predict what the Court’s decision(s) will be this week. But I’m among the not-overly-optimistic Americans who think a wrong, politically motivated, 5-4 decision will significantly impact a law intended do broaden insurance coverage in the short term and lower (minimal decrease beats significant increase) the cost of insurance for Americans.
Is this a Supreme Court or an auction house? The oral arguments presented to the Court suggest little reason for optimism, faith in this corral of justices, their judicial fairness, or wisdom. This cadre are about as in touch with the realities of everyday life in America as an ayatollah (that might be stretch, but not by all that much). Alito, my fave, shared his wisdom and fairness by making this comparison: I don’t see the difference.You can get burial insurance. You can get health insurance. Most people are going to need health care. Almost everybody. Everybody is going to be buried or cremated at some point. What’s the difference?
Alito is not alone. Chief Justice Roberts is, if possible, more clueless, more vengeful. Keep in mind he owes his Court appointment (uh, make that payback) to his activism on behalf of the the Bush v. Gore decision: Chief Justice John Roberts, offered a different analogy: cellphones. Since we never know when we might need emergency services, he hypothesized, could Congress mandate that everyone buy and carry cellphones?
Let’s take their logic a step further. Where is there precedent that all Americans be expected to pay for something they may never need? Perhaps being taxed for police and fire and schools and libraries and roads and airports and trips to the moon and . . . I was not, for good reason, taught in political science class that in this country citizens cherry-picked what taxes they would pay and what taxes they would not pay. Maybe we were asked about ‘frills’ like extracurricular activities or building a new ball field. But American values inform us that there are certain necessities that we all benefit from and thereby we all share in the need to share the costs.
Of course Alito and Roberts can’t see the difference, they’re blinded. Blinded by politics.
Paul Begala offers this: The Founding Fathers lived in the real world, not the rarefied world of bloodless abstractions preferred by the court’s right-wing majority.
Maybe we should have legislation that changes the name from Supreme Court to Supremely Political Court.