The Supreme Court Should Strike Down Obamacare

By: Christina Phan

 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), widely known as Obamacare was signed into law by President Obama in March 2010. From the outset, the Act was widely unpopular and received much criticism. The Act has remained steadily unpopular. As recent as Monday, April 16, 2012, Rasmussen Reports noted that 56% of likely U.S. voters favored repeal of the legislation, while 37% are opposed to the repeal . 

A majority of the states, twenty-eight, have filed actions against the federal government to overturn portions of the law. Twenty-six of the states are filing under a joint action. The National Federation of Independent Business has also filed an action against the law. Twenty-nine states have worked to amend their constitution to nullify different components of Obamacare; thirteen states have worked to prohibit portions of the law from being implemented in their states. Statutory bans have already been enacted in two states. The core dispute is focused on the individual mandate portion of the law; these entities argue that the federal government does not have the constitutional authority to dictate such a mandate and that the mandate undermines the ideals of federalism.

 Every individual who does not have healthcare coverage, through an employer or government-sponsored insurance plan, is required to maintain minimal essential health insurance coverage. If the individual does not pay the base fee they face a penalty. There is an exemption due to religious beliefs and financial hardship. This provision is known as the ‘individual mandate.’. Congress argues that it has the authority to regulate the purchase of health insurance under the commerce clause–which enables them to regulate commerce . . .among the several states.”

However, as noted by Florida District Judge C. Roger Vinson, in his ruling that the individual mandate component of Obamacare was unconstitutional:

“Never before has Congress required that everyone buy a product from a private company (essentially for life) just for being alive and residing in the United States. If [the government] has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a transaction… it is not hyperbolic to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted.”

Under Congress’ view, anything can fall under the guise of affecting commerce and therefore subject to regulation. Allowing Congress to dip their hand into every sector and component of society. If that were the case then the idea of federalism and state sovereignty would be worthless and moot issues because our national government would be able to argue interstate commerce in most every issue. The United States of America was not formed to have a large, wide-sweeping central government. The nation was built with the ideas of federalism—shared governing of both a central government and political units (e.g., states)—similar to our Federal Government with three branches of equal power.  Federalism allows the strengths of each entity to shine. One should not be able to bully another and force their hand or risk losing core support (e.g., federally funded Medicaid).

The ability of the states to govern themselves and make decisions for the citizens of their own community is a core idea within our society. Every state and community is different with different needs and expectations. Also, every state has different financial capabilities. Some states would be able to handle some sort of universal healthcare program (e.g., Massachusetts), while other states would not be able to financially bear a wide-sweeping healthcare program. Some state’s citizens may not even want it because they want the right to make decisions on their own lives, decide how to pay for healthcare themselves, and decide on the specific services and medication and surgeries that they want. The Government does not and should not have a right to make such a sweeping declaration on how all citizens should live their lives. The needs, desires and capabilities of each individual and each state is extremely different and should not fall under one umbrella and within a single formula. This is because it does not work. Even multinational conglomerates like Wal-Mart sell items customized to each region and regional needs and desires. Everyone is different and should not be placed into one general formula. When this occurs, no one is truly helped because their specific needs are not met.

Some individuals try to compare the Healthcare Individual Mandate with car insurance. However, these two types of insurances have very different basis. Most importantly driving is a privilege, living is a right. An individual can choose not to drive and simply take public transit or have another individual drive them. Here, anything related to healthcare is about an individual’s life and their right to dictate their body and their life and that of their own family. The individual mandate takes rights away from individuals to care and make decisions for themselves. Here, for example, individuals are no longer able to determine if they want to self-fund their healthcare. Car insurance is intended to help other drivers on the road and protect third parties. This healthcare program forces individuals to make specific decisions on their lives that they may not want. Individuals are more intelligent than the government gives them credit for, and they can and should be allowed to make decisions on how to spend their money, and decide on issues related to their health and life. Even if individuals are not intelligent, they still have a right to make their own decision.

Further, the market for healthcare insurers under Obamacare is limited; they reduced the number of carriers–providers must meet specific requirements and be a part of the buddy system or face high fees. Obamacare mandates all have coverage, but there are limited plans and options for people to pick from. So, it basically mandates a specific price that cannot truly be negotiated or changed. Also, there will be government run healthcare and the government retains the ability to make requirements on how other providers can act. This causes many issues on private company’s choices on how to run and expand their business. This is counter to freedom of choice and a free market with open competition. Of course, Obamacare allows subsidies for various reasons, which may seem acceptable, but will cost an astronomical amount of money for an already crippled and dying economy. The estimated cost of this Act is approximately $1.2 trillion, over ten years, in net spending, as calculated by the Congressional Budget Office.

Obamacare limits the profits of companies to approximately 15-20% revenue. The idea of hard work and development is thrown out the door. If individuals have limited growth capability they have no motivation to excel and meet their fullest potential. The benefits that these companies might be willing to give and the different competitive rates and desire for growth and expansion, will be hindered. Businesses will only work to meet the revenue maximum. This is also completely counter to the idea of hard work and compensation. Government jumping in and regulating the actions of individuals and private corporations is against the core foundation of our nation. Why work hard if everyone is generally capped and will end up being the same?

Obamacare requires insurance companies to give the same premiums to individuals in the same region and age, regardless of pre-existing conditions, including smoking. On the surface this sounds nice, however if insurance companies are forced to pay higher costs across the board for current issues they will be forced to increase costs for all of their customers to be able to offset the bills they must pay. This will cause many issues for the insured. As there will be limited carriers and limited options there will be no chance for individuals to move companies or truly negotiate lower prices. All of this will likely have a negative effect on the standard of living of individuals because of higher costs and less spending money on other aspects of life.

The individual mandate is an expansion of the federal government’s power that is improper. The federal government is bullying the states to accept specific conditions with threats of withholding federal funding in other important aspects that the states need. This is counter to the idea of federalism. The core of the United States of America was the idea of limited government, not expansion.

These are but a few of the issues to be considered related to Obamacare. There are many other different components and negative repercussions of this Act. Though the Supreme Court will focus more specifically on the Constitutional authority of Congress to pass such an Act, particularly the individual mandate, there are otherissues that the nation faces. Even if this is thrown down and invalidated as unconstitutional, as it should be, it seems pretty evident that the nation has some important questions to answer about the future of the country. For a President and Legislature to pass such a bill brings many questions on where we want our country to go. Do we want to allow these elected individuals to move our nation away from its foundation of limited government or allow movement into a more centralized government with limited states rights and the ability for the government to make widespread mandates and rules without true consideration of regional differences and individual desires. Beyond Obamacare, there are bigger issues at stake and that is: What is the vision for the future of our nation?

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