It’s day two of healthcare reform’s trial at the Supreme Court — I know, I know, but that’s what this whole circus looks like. And honestly I’m feeling relatively Zen-like about the whole thing. I think we win either way.
I can honestly see SCOTUS ruling the individual mandate unconstitutional, which would empower a Teanut-led Congress to completely shred the law, instead of their current piecemeal approach. I can see this happening not because I understand squat about Constitutional Law but because I know the Supreme Court has a long history of making really crappy, stupid decisions. We’ve survived. Slavery was abolished despite Dred Scott, in fact, it probably hastened the Emancipation Proclamation.
In Buck v Bell, SCOTUS allowed the state to forcibly sterilize those it viewed as “genetically inferior.”Explained the New York Times on Saturday,
In 1924 Virginia ordered Ms. Buck, 18 years old, unmarried and pregnant, to be forcibly sterilized. Her legal guardian appealed, and the case made it to the Supreme Court. The winning argument blamed her pregnancy on hereditary weaknesses — in particular, her presumed feeblemindedness. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s majority opinion entered history: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
Let me just say: SCOTUS giving the government the authority to permanently sterilize people sure makes them telling us to buy health insurance look tame by comparison. But what do I know.
Anyway, here’s the thing. The Affordable Care Act was a crappy law, we all knew it. I think I called ita “shit sandwich.” But it was a starting place. It did a couple of good things, like end pre-existing conditions and lifetime benefit caps and yada yada. But really, it’s a Band-Aid on a serious problem which has had massive repercussions across the landscape of America’s economy and competitiveness. That’s the thing no one is really talking about: the problem is real. No one made up the50.7 million uninsured or the fact thatthe U.S. spends moreon healthcare than any other industrialized nation yet we have less to show for it. These are very real issues and they have very real ramifications. And they won’t go away by calling Obama a socialist.
Typically, Republicans are in denial. Take Mitch McConnell, for instance: all in favor of repealing “Obamacare” .. and then what?
But he doesn’t favor comprehensive legislation to replace it. “We would want to more modestly approach this with more incremental fixes,” he told me. “Not a massive Republican alternative.”
Two ideas McConnell mentions are allowing people to purchase health insurance across state lines and reforming medical-malpractice laws. Neither idea would do much to increase coverage, and McConnell didn’t mention one idea — changing the tax treatment of health insurance — that would, perhaps because his party hasn’t reached a consensus on it.
These tweaks the Republicans continually mention are not solutions to our massive healthcare crisis. They are baubles to corporations. They are not up to the task of solving a massive problem 100 years in the making and they will solve nothing. In some cases, they will make things worse.
If healthcare reform is repealed, there is no reset. We aren’t going back to the good ol’ days when doctors made housecalls and people didn’t have to choose between buying heart medication or paying the light bill. No, we’re going back to a really sucky, unworkable, crisis situation. This is obvious to anyone doing business in this country. I see repeal making “Medicare For All” that much more inevitable, and that will be a shiv in the heart of the private, for-profit insurance industry. They will only have themselves to blame for working so hard to undercut what was really a lifeline Congress threw their dying industry.
Mind you, I’m not hoping for failure. I want a win because I think Obama and the Democrats need this win, and I also think the law does some good things that people really, desperately need. But it’s just postponing the inevitable. Our healthcare system is massively fucked up and the private, for-profit insurance model is unsustainable. It’s going to change because it has to. Like the Dred Scott decision, a SCOTUS ruling against the Affordable Care Act could be the impetus that drives the change we didn’t get from Congress.
So, if we lose, fine. I’ll be singing this song: