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Obamacare Goes to Court: Day Two

» NY Times: Hard Questions From Justices Over Insurance Mandate

Doesn't sound like the individual mandate had a good day in court yesterday. Says Ezra ...

The quick read is that today went very badly for supporters of the individual mandate. As one of the experienced Supreme Court watchers who runs SCOTUSblog tweeted, “Paul Clement” — the attorney arguing against the health-care law — “gave the best argument I’ve ever heard. No real hard questions from the right. Mandate is in trouble.”

... and Toobin is more blunt in his assessment:

"This was a train wreck for the Obama administration .... This law looks like it's going to be struck down. I'm telling you, all of the predictions including mine that the justices would not have a problem with this law were wrong... if I had to bet today I would bet that this court is going to strike down the individual mandate."

So it looks like the only question left is whether the scope of the opinion will be narrowly tailored to nix the individual mandate, or if the majority in the court will strike for bigger gold in limiting the commerce clause.

The Washington Post interviews Randy Barnett of Georgetown Law and captures his take on the issue at hand ...

... the duty to pay taxes is part of your duty to support the government in return for the protections the government gives you. What the government is claiming here is this power — and this ought to disturb people on the left — to make people do business with private companies when Congress thinks it’s convenient.

That's a fair encapsulation of why I've consistently found the individual mandate troubling. The argument that we're all engaged in the health care market, hence we should pay for it by some means, is problematic on logical grounds. First, the only reason it's offered is because of a Hippocratic Oath that doesn't exactly bind any doctor to see any patient on any grounds whatsoever. At least not in any legally codified manner that I'm familiar with. Secondly, the assumption is that the entirety of the uninsured do not manage to cover the health care costs that they end up incurring. I'm sure that the net effect is a loss of dollars, but I've not seen anything that outlines the scope of the problem (ie - what percentage of uninsured contribute to the problem). I'm uninsured since I don't know when (minus some time during 2010). I have incurred zero health care expenses in the past decade. The last time I did, I paid my bill in full. So why do I need to be forced into the insurance market against my will to fix a problem that I don't contribute to?

In sum, the so-called "health care reform" bill signed into law is, in effect, nothing more than a health insurance reform in this regard. And that brings me to the final problem I have with the mandate: why are we sanctifying the insurance market? Is that really the highlight of liberal thought, these days? ... forcing people to deal with the insurance industry? That seems a far cry even from Al Gore's trope of "the people vs the powerful."

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  1. I agree with parts of your analysis, one option should be a government program that really drives down costs if we can’t just slowly go to Medicare for All.

    Of course, you just admitted you are a large part of the problem. The day you are hit by a car the taxpayers are on the hook for say $300,000 in hospital bills. Why haven’t you signed up for the County Gold Card program? It is not only for the very poor but for anyone who doesn’t have insurance. Even at the 50% and 100% rates it is the best catastrophic insurance out there – free. It just costs time to make an appointment to give them financial info the first time and to drop off paperwork changes once a year or major event change.

  2. By my estimation, the driver would be the one who is part of the problem.

    While I was on the Bill White campaign, we participated in the county’s Tri-Care insurance plan. I went with the bare-bones option that meant I’d have a huge co-pay and low caps on any expenses. I think it came to less than $40 a month, but it was also heavily subsidized as an experiment. There were pricier options for those who had other needs/situations.

    Not sure how open that system is anymore. But it fits perfectly with what I’d want in an insurance plan: low monthly, risk is on me with the co-pays and bills from costly incidents.

    I happen to live near a HCHD clinic and it’s not the strongest selling point for anything I’d want to endure. It’s every rightwinger’s poster child for the dread of government-run health care. I’d rather visit any of the non-gov clinics in my area and take my chances with out-of-pocket expenses. That’s how I deal with my side of the “problem”.

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