Thursday, June 28, 2012

Further Observations of the Health Care Decision

The President will be speaking at 12:15PM. No doubt he'll be addressing the decision.

I've been scanning the dissent, and it seems that ruled the individual mandate exceeded the Commerce Clause/Necessary and Proper, and that since Congress didn't identify it as a tax, neither should they, even if the outcome is a functional tax.

It's not much of a surprise in either case. And there's plenty of grounds on which to lay the Commerce Clause/Necessary and Proper rationale - and with which the majority concurred.

Both the majority and dissent found that individual mandate exceeded Commerce Clause/Necessary and Proper. Where they diverge is that Chief Justice Roberts found justification under the Congressional power to tax, while the dissent found that since Congress didn't identify this as a tax, and the Administration's justifications of same can't cover up deficiency, they struck down the individual mandate.

Frankly, both sides are fairly well reasoned, even if you don't agree with the dissent. Plain language reading, versus intent. By Congress enacting a provision imposing the mandate under the IRC, that would seem to make it a tax, which is something discounted by the dissent. The dissent focuses on the treatment of the 5000A provision, and references within other parts of the PPACA as a penalty, not a tax.

As someone else has pointed out to me, those who currently have health insurance are paying a tax of sorts - they pay higher premiums so as to cover costs imposed on health care providers by those who are indigent or unwilling to pay health care costs. It is possible that the HCR would reduce those costs but I'm not sure that will happen.

There remain parts of the PPACA that do need to be fixed (as the paperwork requirements showed); OTC flex spending should be reformed for instance. But there's a framework of items that do expand health care insurance coverage to a greater percentage of Americans.

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