Everything You Need To Understand Today’s Health Care Decision

At this point, everything useful that could possibly be said about the Affordable Care Act has already been said — not to mention all that blather about broccoli. Rather than pretend that there is something more to say before the Supreme Court hands down its opinion today, here is a list of resources to help you understand the significance of today’s decision — and don’t forget to also check out Igor Volsky’s “10 Things You Would Miss About Obamacare”:

Why The Law Is Constitutional

  • The Individual Mandate Is Constitutional. In the words of a leading conservative judge who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, the case against Obamacare has no basis “in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent.” Learn the three reasons why the individual mandate is constitutional here.
  • So Is Medicaid. Learn how the health care plaintiffs’ attack on the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion is both incorrect and an attack on America’s entire social safety net here.
  • Upholding Obamacare Does Not Mean The Federal Government’s Power Is Limitless. The Affordable Care Act is constitutional, but a long list of things are beyond Congress’ power to regulate, including federal murder laws, rape and assault laws, federal truancy laws and federal child neglect laws. Learn more here.

What Could Go Wrong If The Law Is Struck Down

  • Americans With Preexisting Conditions Are Tossed Back To The Wolves. The best case scenario if the individual mandate is struck down tomorrow is that the 57 million non-elderly Americans with preexisting conditions lose the Affordable Care Act’s promise that they cannot be turned away by insurance companies. Once again, this is the best case scenario.
  • The Individual Insurance Market Starts To Unravel. If the Court strikes just the mandate, that will effectively replace the Affordable Care Act with the kind of failed insurance reform that was enacted in seven different states. Those failed reforms led to entire counties without any individual insurance providers in Washington state, and 350 percent premium spikes in some parts of the New Jersey market, among other disastrous outcomes.
  • Medicare Shuts Down. Approximately 100 million Medicare claims are processed each month using a formula that was altered by the Affordable Care Act. If the entire law were struck down, new rates could not be calculated under the old, pre-ACA formula until after a rulemaking process that can take months before is completed. The result would be that Medicare would not be able to pay doctors for what could be many months. Worse, because Medicare’s computers are not equipped to handle this kind of backlog, the Supreme Court could crash Medicare’s systems.
  • Millions Lose Medicaid. A few justices appeared sympathetic at oral argument to Clement’s argument that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is also unconstitutional, but appeared unable to distinguish this expansion from many other expansions that have occurred over the last 35 years. If the justices strike the Medicaid expansion, they could take away health care from millions of people who already have Medicaid in the process.

What Will Conservatives Do Next If They Win

  • Child labor Laws And The Ban On Whites-Only Lunch Counters Could Be Next. Professor Randy Barnett, one of the leading architects of the challenge to the Affordable Care Act, admitted to NPR that he thinks decades of precedents upholding national child labor laws, civil rights laws, the minimum wage and many federal laws protecting workers were “wrongly decided.” Justice Thomas has pushed this same view for years.
  • Or Maybe Medicare And Social Security. Leading Tea Party lawmakers have also claimed that Medicare, Social Security, federal disaster relief, Medicaid, national food safety inspections, and all federal education and anti-poverty programs violate the Constitution.

The Affordable Care Act is clearly constitutional, and the attacks on it cannot be squared with nearly two centuries of precedent. Smart conservatives are clever enough to realize this, and for this very reason will be clever enough to realize that they stand to win even more audacious lawsuits if the Supreme Court lets this one slide.

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