Today the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favour of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare”. Surprisingly, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the more liberal justices when he provided the fifth vote in this 5-4 decision that argues the federal government can require citizens to buy health insurance or face a fine. Chief Justice Roberts said in the decision:
“Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A (the individual mandate) under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it.”
In writing the decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in this manner, the deciding majority held that Congress has the authority to cast the penalty for those who refuse to purchase health insurance as a tax. All of us who have job-based coverage benefit from this decision. Additionally, insurance companies will have to follow uniform rules, and those pre-exisiting conditions officially go out the window. For those of us who don’t have job-based coverage, it’s an opportunity to get insurance through “exchanges” — some states, for example New York, will see up to a 66% reduction in healthcare costs. Today, another critical part of “Obamacare” was also affirmed; the Supreme Court ruled that the expansion of Medicaid (based on a pre-determined income level) is constitutional – though certain conditions apply.
Now, having said all of that, this isn’t an article about all of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act; this article has two purposes:
- The first purpose is simply to take a moment, since the POTUS will not gloat, to say #BOOM, GOP!! How do you like it now? How does it feel to have YOUR wishes ignored? Why, you must be feeling like, oh, I dunno, the Middle Class!?!
- To rally those in support of the ACA and those who should now realise the benefits this law will provide them.
Why, when it has just been made official by the Supreme Court, do we need to rally support behind Obamacare and this President? Because despite the fact that seniors who have already been receiving 50 percent discounts on brand-name drugs will get to keep those discounts, and despite the fact that roughly 3 million young adults, up to age 26, who are on their parents’ health care plans will remain insured, this decision is like raw meat for the rabid factions of the GOP. It’s not just because the GOP sees this as a ‘win’ for the President (can’t have that!) but also because the law was interpreted to mean the imposition of a new tax — though given that tax would apply primarily to the middle class, this writer doesn’t understand why the GOP would care as it has long been clear that the middle class is not the GOP’s priority.
As President Obama has repeatedly stated, the ACA is meant to be the beginning of healthcare reform; for those who feel this Act didn’t go far enough, it should be kept in mind that eight prior administrations attempted to get some level of coherent reforms written into law — and all failed. As with other laws, the ACA can be tweaked until we move towards a universal healthcare system…but it will not if the GOP has its way.
The Republicans have no viable, fair alternative to ACA; they have pushed for a voucher plan that would destroy Medicare and, in turn, lead millions of senior citizens into poverty. And, as of a couple of hours ago, Congressman Eric Cantor promised a repeal of the ACA, even if it’s only a symbolic vote — after all, it’s not like he wants to spend time focusing on jobs. If we’re careful and keep the vision of a better America in mind, the ACA marks only the beginning of a push towards a great society — and it is up to us to continue up that path.