One of the important insights which the West receives
from Eastern religion and philosophy is that everything
is not always what it seems.
The U.S. supreme court has now handed down, by a 6-3
vote, a ruling that the exchanges feature of the
Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) is
constitutional. This is the second ruling on this
legislation which gives it constitutional legitimacy in the
opinion of the majority of the highest court . There will
not likely be any more Obamacare rulings by this court.
As any regular reader of this column knows, I have been
from the beginning opposed to the Obamacare legislation.
This was entirely an opposition to the structure of it,
which I knew to be unsustainable, and to the manner it was
passed by the U.S. congress, a manner which did not allow
virtually any debate, and which was not even read in full
by its supporters. I might add that my opposition on the
former point has been clearly demonstrated since it took
effect. Obamacare is not only failing badly economically,
it has failed to provide the “universal” health care insurance
that it promised. On the second objection, i.e., the manner
in which it was adopted, the voters of America have now
twice handed Republicans landslide victories in national
midterm elections, much of the energy for those landslides
provoked by widespread public opposition to Obamacare.
It might surprise my readers to learn that I am not upset by
the consequences of this supreme court ruling.
In terms of the legal reasoning for the majority opinion,
however, legal scholars would be right to point out that
Chief Justice John Roberts and his five colleagues literally
had to rewrite the language of the legislation to justify their
decision. It is not the first time in history that this court has
done this, nor will it be the last. History might not be kind to
Mr. Roberts for this aspect of the decision. Conservatives
will argue that this is an improper imposition of the court on
its role in the separation of powers.
However, the political consequences of the decision are perhaps
not what they seem. If the court had ruled the exchanges part
of Obamacare unconstitutional, the legislation would have
been, in effect, no longer operative. the result would have been
traumatic not only for those who would suddenly be without the
coverage they thought they had, but also for many Americans
who are sympathetic to the legislation. It almost certainly will
be a major issue in the 2016 elections, but unlike 2010 and 2014,
the momentum would have emotionally shifted dramatically to
the pro-Obamacare side and to those Democrats who support it.
The latest supreme court ruling, on the other hand, maintains
the momentum to the opposition to Obamacare, primarily for
the reason that the legislation and its implementation will now
continue to reveal its inherent flaws, economic unsustainability
and failure to fulfill its stated promise of universal coverage.
The celebrations now taking place in the White House, and by
those who created Obamacare, will therefore be short-lived.
The decision creates a huge opportunity for opponents to
come up with the one element they have lacked, i.e., the public
perception of an alternative to Obamacare, one based on a free
market sustainability that is both workable and fair. Such ideas
and proposals already exist, but now the Republican aspirants
for the presidency in 2016 will have the opportunity through
their campaigns and the presidential debates to acquaint the
electorate with a conservative alternative.
Although I have consistently opposed Obamacare, I have also
consistently agreed that the present healthcare insurance
system has failed. The question is not whether or not there
should be healthcare insurance reform, but what should be the
structure of that reform.
The burden now shifts to conservative congressional/senate
candidates, and to Republican presidential contestants to
finish the job that Americans have clearly and consistently
wanted to happen since Obamacare was so improperly
passed and implemented --- namely, the repeal of the
Affordable Care Act, and its replacement with a better way to
provide Americans with healthcare coverage. Clearly, some
of the reforms of Obamacare should be preserved, e.g.,
insurance portability, but the continued disintegration and
unsustainabilty of Obamacare remains an open legislative
open sore which requires prompt and competent treatment by
the next administration.
Even “final” supreme court decisions are not always what
Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.