Tuesday, March 27, 2012

SCOTUS on Obamacare - Day 2

How the Court will rule on the mandate to purchase health insurance is anyone's guess at this time and it will most likely be June or July before their decision is rendered. But it seems some are attempting to call this game before the last strike.

This from the Los Angeles Times.

Even before the administration's top lawyer could get three minutes into his defense of the mandate, some justices accused the government of pushing for excessive authority to require Americans to buy anything.

"Are there any limits," asked Justice Anthony Kennedy, one of three conservative justices whose votes are seen as crucial to the fate of the unprecedented insurance mandate.

Excessive authority.


Perhaps sanity and reason will prevail after all.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that the government might require Americans to buy cellphones to be ready for emergencies. And Justice Antonin Scalia asked if the government might require Americans to buy broccoli or automobiles.

"If the government can do this, what else can it ... do?” Scalia asked.

Tough crowd.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. tried to argue that the insurance mandate would not open the door to other requirements to buy products because healthcare is unique.

"Virtually everyone in society is in this market,” said Verrilli, who was prodded on by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and other liberal justices. That means that if someone elects not to get health insurance but then gets sick, as everyone will, that person will pass along costs to everyone else, Verrilli explained.

True, and virtually everyone eats food. Some purchase it while others grow and slaughter their own. In doing so, they deprive grocers, wholesalers and others of their ability to earn a living.

Will the government decide to mandate that everyone purchase food through a food exchange and further restrict what they can and cannot buy? If they fail to buy the government mandated food items will they be penalized (or taxed)?

I find it humorous, in a morbid way of course, that the government is making their plea for "fairness" by stating those who do not purchase insurance cause health care cost shifting which results in higher premiums.

While this is true, the number of folks without insurance who fail to pay their bills is relatively small. Many states, including Georgia, allow someone to retroactively sign up for Medicaid AFTER THEY BECOME ILL OR INJURED, thus shifting their burden to the taxpayers.

With 46 million on Medicare and 58 million on Medicaid, roughly a third of the population is covered by a taxpayer funded plan with low reimbursements. The level of compensation by Medicare and Medicaid is, in many cases, below cost for most medical providers. The result is a cost shift to those with private insurance and/or the ability to pay out of pocket. That group pays a higher premium than would otherwise be required if not for the low reimbursement levels of those on government health insurance plans.

The government contributes more to high health insurance costs and premiums more than the deadbeats who are uninsured and do not pay their bills.

Bring out the torches and pitchforks.
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