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1Feb/110

Individual Mandate: The Vinson Round

I haven't thought to make any mention of the latest GOP judge to rule against health care reform. Primarily, that's because it was totally expected and it doesn't really alter anything that's already in motion for sending the issue to the Supreme Court. But since two other bloggers have an interesting take in the aftermath of Judge Vinson's ruling, who am I to leave the issue alone?

Steve Benen (Washington Monthly):

Yes, there may be folks who don't want to buy insurance, who would be penalized under the law. But under our system, those folks still get sick, still go to the hospital with medical emergencies, and -- here's the kicker -- still get care.

I don't think it requires one to disagree with this point if you merely realize that not everyone who gets the care Benen makes an example of isn't freeloading on the system. In several cases, the visits that people make to get care in these situations is not of the $10-20,000 hospital stay variety. I would suspect that the majority of these instances would not be in the far more affordable range. As to what the percentages are, I'm not sure. But I think that would be pretty vital information if you're going to lean heavily on arguing that because X-number of dollars are made into societal costs due to this situation, do the percentages of uninsured people not paying their way really necessitate a truly socialized cost on all uninsured people? Obviously, I've never been convinced of that point.

Damon Root (Reason):

Justice Anthony Kennedy often does cast the crucial fifth vote, sometimes siding with the Court’s liberal bloc, other times with the conservatives. And the legal challenge to ObamaCare certainly won’t be over until the Supreme Court weighs in. But the Kennedy-as-decider scenario also assumes that all four conservatives will vote against the individual mandate. Can we be so sure about that?

Yes, you pretty much can be sure of that. Root makes a good, solid effort to get at the underlying philosophical views of Scalia and Roberts from their writings (or worse - their Senate testimony!). But I still maintain that the only thing you need to know is the figurative letter next to the respective judges' names. Consistency isn't going to be something that the four court conservatives strive for in this instance. It will be a politically-motivated decision and the outcome of that decision is not in doubt. While I might not mind so much to see the individual mandate never come into existence, I think there's a lot more to worry about what follows from the ultimate stripping down of the commerce clause. My fear (and I'd love for this to end up being unfounded) is that the ruling may impact more than just the requirement to purchase health insurance.

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