Jeffrey Toobin from CNN nailed it when he told his audience yesterday was a train wreck for the Obama Administration. Today he said it was more like a plane wreck. I amuse myself sometimes, and I could not resist thinking of the classic comedy Planes Trains and Automobiles starring John Candy and Steve Martin. My favorite scene provides an exemplary demonstration of what is truly going inside the beltway, especially along 2nd Street NE, which is the street that runs right between the US Capitol and Supreme Court in Washington, DC. It is a really pretty walk this time of year, and perfect venue of the much publicized Obamacare Showdown, 2012 which just concluded and was full of fanfare with thousands of protesters from all walks of life gathering to offer their opinions on the ACA.
Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard arguments on the individual mandate piece of the health reform legislation which requires individuals to purchase health insurance or face a penalty. This section is important on many levels. It is crucial for answering the access piece of the health reform puzzle which needs to get people to buy coverage. But it is also problematic because of federal power and raises a serious question of whether the federal government can require you as an individual or business owner to purchase something. In this case it is health insurance, and this is troublesome because of how expensive health insurance is. If this law is upheld, I predict it to be wildly unpopular when in 2014 those without insurance are forced to take on an annual cost of roughly $6,000 per individual or $13,000 per family.
Today the arguments focused on sever ability which is legal jargon for debating over the question of whether the entire statute (law) should fall if the individual mandate is overthrown. If that happens, then what happens to the whole law? This question will have to be addressed in the next few months. Quite frankly, this writer is very surprised that the case has been going as it has been. According to analysts, the sever ability issue had major traction which could mean that the entire health reform law could be thrown out. This is huge news folks on all levels.
The final argument was on the costly expansion of the Medicaid program, which creates a lot of heartburn in many states because it is expensive and makes up a major part of all state budgets. Another problem, the Medicaid expansion argument is really over states’ rights versus federal power. This is because Medicaid is shared by each Federal and State Government and when one partner (federal) tries to push more responsibility and cost on the other (states) you can see how they could have a problem. While the Medicaid expansion is crucial for filling coverage for poor individuals, it is highly bureaucratized, full of fraud and abuse and reimburses much less than private insurers which irritates providers.
Lots to discuss but my self-imposed word limit are rapidly approaching. If you are interested in learning more on this issue, tune into 1110 KFAB’s morning show tomorrow where yours truly will be live in studio talking about health reform and answering listener questions. In the meantime watch the news coverage of this historical event and educate yourself on health care. The many problems that exist are going to remain despite the final ruling.