Mar 31st, 2012 | By | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

What’s the Problem??

The Supreme Court spent three days listening to arguments from attorneys representing 26 states who object to the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) this week. The news reports on television are getting repetitive and it’s a little hard to cut through all the hype about the issue.  So SCJ looked for information on the Internet that would help us look at the basics.  Here is what we found:

The ‘individual mandate’ requires everyone to buy health insurance

Not true.  Here’s what the law actually says.  Beginning in 2014, everyone who files a tax return has to be sure they have health insurance for themselves and all the dependents they claim. If they don’t meet this requirement, they pay a penalty that is $95 in 2014, and does not go beyond 2 ½ percent of their annual taxable income.  It’s a very small incentive to purchase health insurance instead of paying the penalty.  Kind of like buying auto insurance; you don’t necessarily like paying for it, but it’s a lot better than not having it in the event of an accident.

The additional problem is that the individual mandate, if declared unconstitutional, affects two other provisions of the law.  The AHCA prohibits insurance companies from denying applicants with prior health problems.  And insurance companies cannot charge higher premiums to people with a history of illness. Here’s what Walter Dellinger (Acting Solicitor General, 1993-1997) recently said about these two provisions:

“Experience in the states has shown that if people can’t be turned down for health insurance, there must be an incentive for them to sign up for it before they have an accident or illness. The individual mandate was enacted to ensure that the central, nondiscrimination provisions can work as they were intended — to provide everyone access to affordable health care, regardless of their medical history or current conditions. If the court were to strike down the mandate, the law’s popular provisions on preexisting conditions would fall as well.” (Washington Post, March 23, 2012)

The AHCA sets a precedent that allows the government to require citizens to purchase any product

Not true.  The individual mandate does not force us to buy insurance. At the moment, other patients and taxpayers pay for those who are unable to pay their health care costs.  And some doctors and medical institutions simply discount or write off accounts that cannot be paid.  With the AHCA, those accused of ‘free-loading’ will be required to take responsibility for themselves rather than have medical care costs passed on to others. The new law is a way to regulate the commerce of providing health care, not the delivery itself.

Let’s not get silly about this, Seniors.  If you don’t like brussel sprouts, the government will not enact legislation to require you to buy brussel sprouts.

Socialized Medicine??

Don’t think so.  The private insurance market is the entity that will be offering insurance programs, not the government.  The AHCA is truly a mechanism that offers health care to every citizen in the United States, the wealthiest nation on earth. What we seniors have had for several decades now under Medicare will be offered to all citizens in the country.  That really makes a lot of sense to us here at SCJ.

The AHCA Takes Away Our Freedom

Nope.  It doesn’t.  There is nothing in the law that says what doctors have to do or say. Nothing that says how we have to be treated medically.  It simply requires taxpayers to either have health insurance or pay a small penalty (much smaller than a speeding ticket, by the way).

The words of Justice Benjamin Cardozo’s 1937 opinion regarding a challenge to the Social Security Act are relevant today:

“Whether wisdom or unwisdom resides in [the statute in question] it is not for us to say. The answer to such inquiries must come from Congress, not the courts.” (Washington Post, March 23, 2012)

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