The US Supreme Court heard final arguments on the healthcare law last week. At issue is a key provision of the law that requires all Americans to purchase health insurance. The court is expected to make a ruling some time in June — though a decision could come at any time now.
It’s probably a good thing that the Supremes are deliberating over this one. The healthcare law is often cited as the signature accomplishment of the Obama administration — which it probably is, if you forget about orchestrating a massive stimulus bill; repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; appointing two justices to the Supreme Court including the first Latina ever to sit on that bench; extending the debt ceiling; beginning the drawdown of troops in the Middle East; and having Osama bin Laden shot in the face.
Extended deliberation is a good thing because excising this piece of the healthcare law would have a massive ripple effect. Gutting this provision could mean striking down the entire law, and there is some question as to whether the judicial branch of government has this authority.
Plus there are the political ramifications. On the surface it could be viewed as a damning strike against the Obama administration, which has been erroneously accused of overreaching executive powers practically since they took office — Obama pushed and prodded and sometimes intervened, but he didn’t draft the bill and he wouldn’t have had a bill to sign if Congress didn’t give it to him. It could also be used against Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who championed a Massachusetts healthcare law that has a similar provision.
Extended deliberation is a good thing because excising this piece of the healthcare law would have a massive ripple effect.
The irony, of course, is that the provision was a bone thrown to fearful insurance companies defending their legacy of profit-making off of medical care, while also reigning in costs. And it was intended as a salve to allay Republican opposition to a public option — which, like libraries, schools, law enforcement and even insurance itself is a form of socialism.
A public option of the type employed by just about every other civilized, wealthy country would render this whole hearing — and its cost to the American people — moot. It would also wipe out the recent controversy concerning the availability of birth control under health insurance provided by the Catholic Church.
And it would end the arcane practice — and astounding expense — of healthcare being the purview of employers. It seems bizarre these days, when few people stay at the same company all of their working years, for an employer to be responsible for a person’s healthcare. It is a sometimes crippling expense for businesses, creates fear of changing jobs for achievement-oriented Americans, and limits individual freedom far more than a mandate requiring the purchase of heath insurance ever could.
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