Your Congressman, your insurance agent, and both of the major party candidates for president have something in common. We all sound as if we are talking about your health. The subject is a part of the non-stop political commercials flooding the airwaves and cluttering your mail box. In truth, your health is not the focus. This is really about money. We are debating a payment system, how medical providers compensated. Who pays and how much? What was once about hospitals and doctors now encompasses hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, medical testing equipment, therapists, and countless others attached to the business of health. Every one of them has an army of lobbyists in Washington and every state capitol. And all of those lobbyists have checkbooks. That’s not good. That’s not bad. It just is.
We’re going to talk about politics.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings this past week on the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. It really didn’t really matter whether or not she answered any of the Senators’ questions. The votes were counted prior to the nominee being named. And her views are certainly no secret. Judge Barret has been running for this gig since she worked on the Bush v. Gore lawsuit from the 2000 election. She has been thoroughly vetted by the Federalist Society. Her writings are public. Will she vote to reverse decisions legalizing abortion and same-sex marriage? Your Conservative friends sure hope so. Since this is Health Insurance Issues With Dave, we’ll focus on the question so many of the Democratic Senators pressed her during the hearing. Will Amy Coney Barrett vote that Obamacare, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is unconstitutional?
The Wall Street Journal, excited about the reshaping of the Supreme Court, has issued countless editorials downplaying the Texas/Trump Lawsuit and its chance for success. But the case has made it to the Supreme Court. We cannot afford to ignore the danger this case poses to our access to health care or to 20% of our economy.
The crux of the case is that after the Senate failed to repeal Obamacare in 2017, President Trump, the Republican controlled House, and the Republican controlled Senate passed a tax bill in December 2017. Included in the bill was a provision to zero out the penalty for not having compliant health insurance (the Individual Mandate). The Mandate wasn’t repealed. The penalty was simply reduced to zero.
Once the case, pushed by the Attorney General of Texas and certain other states, started to gain traction, President Trump became a fan and instructed his Justice Department to get involved. When asked about millions of Americans losing their health insurance and the elimination of protections for people with preexisting conditions, Senate Republicans disavowed any responsibility. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), was quoted in a Kaiser Health News article as saying, “I am not aware of a single senator who said they were voting to repeal Obamacare when they voted to eliminate the individual mandate penalty”.
Millions of dollars have now been wasted on this lawsuit. Millions of Americans have suffered unnecessary stress over the thought of losing their health insurance, the way they access and pay for health care. Mitch McConnell could end this controversy. Senator McConnell could introduce and pass legislation reintroducing the personal responsibility penalty, the Individual Mandate, and assess the penalty at ONE DOLLAR. The lawsuit claims that the lack of a penalty invalidates the entirety of Obamacare. OK, insert a penalty, or as Chief Justice Roberts calls it, a tax. One dollar makes the lawsuit moot.
Would a Justice Barrett rule the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act unconstitutional? Why in the world would you want to give her the chance?
Mitch could save your access to health care, but he’d have to actually care.
Picture – All You Need Is One – David L Cunix
Special Bonus for those capable of writing their own jokes.