Obamacare has reached the Supreme Court this week, where the 9 justices will spend an unprecedented amount of time debating the constitutionality of the individual mandate included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The court has set aside more than three times the amount it normally does for oral arguments on the individual mandate.
This is, as Vice President Joe Biden would say, “A big f****** deal.”
The individual mandate of Obamacare is the part of the bill that forces Americans to purchase a product (health insurance), whether they want to or not. This is not a debate on whether or not having health insurance is a good thing, it’s a debate on the power Congress holds under the Commerce Clause. Does Congress have the constitutional authority to tax people for the very act of breathing?
The individual mandate is a tax. It demands that people spend their money on a product, for the common good of the public. If that’s not a tax, I don’t know what is. The Constitution gives the power to Congress to tax individuals and businesses, to pay for our increasingly expensive government. We pay income taxes, property taxes, consumptive (sales) taxes, corporate taxes, payroll taxes, capital gains taxes, and inheritance taxes. Where does it end?
If the Supreme Court knocks down the individual mandate, Obamacare will not be able to fund itself. The health care law bars insurance companies from denying coverage to anyone due to pre-existing conditions, age, or overall health in general. It also sets limits on how much physicians may charge their patients, regardless of the cost of the procedure. The idea behind the mandate was that it would pay for the extra expenses incurred by health providers. Without the mandate, the whole law basically collapses.
(Although, one could argue that the whole thing will collapse anyway, as the true costs of Obamacare are beginning to come to light.)
On the other hand, if the court decides to leave the mandate in place, the battle isn’t over. 2014 will be the first year that people will have to pay their health insurance tax, which means that they can file suit against it in 2015, when they file their 2014 taxes.
It’s going to be interesting to watch, and I hope this is the beginning of the end for Obamacare. It was not fun receiving a letter from my health insurance company explaining that my premiums were skyrocketing ‘due to new health care regulations.’ When a few are required to provide for many, how long before they throw in the towel?
Like Margaret Thatcher said, “Eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
Image via TexasGOPVote.com/Flickr