So on what would be the most historic day for health care since March 23, 2010, Comcast decides to have a total internet/phone/TV blackout in my neighborhood. So, off to Einstein Bagels to get some breakfast and free wi-fi. Following Twitter, CNN.com, and my C-SPAN ipad app allowed for a roller coaster of disappointment followed by surprise as CNN first reported that the Individual Mandate was unconstitutional. A few moments later, C-SPAN got it right…the Affordable Care Act’s Individual Mandate is constitutional.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (James 1:19)
CNN likely could have taken the above advice and waited to hear the entire ruling before publishing that the mandate was struck down.
(photo courtesy: Eli Clifton)
So what just happened?
- The Federal Government cannot require people to simply buy a product if they don’t want to…broccoli haters should celebrate (i.e. the Commerce Clause argument for the individual mandate was ruled unconstitutional).
- The Government can TAX you for not buying a product. In this case, the product is health insurance (i.e. the Taxing Powers of Congress are pretty much unlimited).
- Medicaid cannot be expanded in a take-it-or-leave it fashion. Instead, the Medicaid expansion (which would cover up to 17 million more Americans) must take place on an optional basis. Thus during the implementation phase, the Department of Health and Human Services must craft a system where some states could retain their Medicaid program as-is while others can accept the new 133%FPL floor in order to receive richer federal matching funds.
No doubt today’s decisions will galvanize Republicans’ efforts to defeat the President and gain control of the Senate in November. But at least, for now, the future of our health care system is on the path toward shared responsibility. And Chief Justice John Roberts and President Obama are likely to become best friends forever.