Monday was the beginning of what might prove to be one of the most momentous Supreme Court decisions in the past half century.
At issue is whether the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act (sometimes called ObamaCare) is or is not constitutional. The nine Supreme Court justices began hearing testimony, pro and con, Monday. After testimony, the justices will hunker down and begin their long, technical legal discussion. A decision is expected in early June.
The Affordable Care Act will go into full effect in two to three years. It will require everyone to purchase private health insurance or face a fine. Those who cannot afford to purchase insurance will receive a partial subsidy from the government.
The rationale behind the individual mandate is that a vast, universal insurance-premium pool is needed to spread the costs around equitably. In addition, it is one step on the way to universal health care, which all other developed countries in the world enjoy.
If the Supreme Court rules against the individual mandate, the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act will be gutted, more or less sinking the whole plan — to the delight of those who have long opposed it.
If the Court rules in favor, the plan will proceed, and at least 30 million more Americans will have access to health care. The plan could possibly be tweaked in the coming years to improve it.
There has been such a barrage of opposition to the Affordable Care Act that its benefits have been drowned out in the roar. That loud opposition is based largely on gross distortions and outright lies. The biggest lie is that ObamaCare is a form of “socialism.” It is not. It is, in fact, a free-market solution involving a multitude of insurance companies and health-care plans available through an interstate exchange, which — ideally — should increase price competition. We also keep hearing propagandistic nonsense about death panels, open-ended funding for abortions and people being forbidden to choose their own doctors. It’s all fear-mongering nonsense.
There are those who do have legitimate concerns about ObamaCare — for instance, will it be truly “affordable” and how will current escalating costs be reversed or at least kept in check? There are also those who oppose the Affordable Care Act because they think it did not go far enough — that a single-payer system would be much better.
The suspense is building. It is only weeks before the Supreme Court announces its decision. During that time, in case the Court nixes it, the vociferous opponents of ObamaCare had best spend their time coming up with an alternative proposal. There is none in sight at this point.