Sunday, January 12, 2014

Three Levels of ObamaCare Vulnerability

Your levelers wish to level down as far as themselves, but they cannot bear leveling up to themselves.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Boswell’s Life

You can approach the vulnerability of the health care law at three levels.

One, at the level of individual liberty -  Peter Berkowitz, senior fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford,  says ObamaCare is an assault on individual liberty.   Berkowitz maintains the  health law diminishes individual liberty by authorizing   government to  assume control of health care, a role for which it is ill-suited  and which exceeds its constitutional powers.   President Obama and his followers ridicule the individual liberty argument as outmoded and driven by contempt for the poor and minorities.  In the name of equality and compassion,  the Obama administration  insists responsibilities for health care must be shifted from individual patients and physicians  to centralized government which has the resources and expertise to do what needs to be done to improve the health of the people and to make their care affordable.  The  health law and the Obama administration is vulnerable because the majority of Americans (56% to 38%) oppose the law, and in America the majority rules.

Two, at the level of the U.S. Constitution -   The Supreme Court  ruled in June 2012 that the health law was constitutional and that the individual mandate should be treated as a tax.   But the Supreme Court’s ruling last June may have been only the end of the beginning as far as ObamaCare litigation is concerned.  A series of  lawsuits unrelated to the individual mandate have  emerged. These Issues range from employer mandates to the constitutionality of Chief Justice John Roberts’s health insurance nonpurchase tax, from infringement on religious beliefs to a separation-of-powers challenge against the Independent Payment Advisory Board. We’re even started to see lawsuits regarding the implementation of the law, as a host of agencies promulgate rules that often go beyond even the legislation’s expansive text. The lawsuits at present are focusing of the contraceptive mandate as violation of the constitutional separation of church and state,  on the exemption of members of Congress from the health law.   In addition,  11 state attorney generals have sued President Obama on the grounds that he  violates the Separation of Powers clause in the Constitutiion every time he uses his executive powers to change provisions in the law, as he had done on 21 separate occasions.  The Constitution, critics assert, is not a plaything for President Obama to tinker with when he pleases.

Three, at the level of the economy -   Critics argue ObamaCare  has been detrimental to the economy by  raising the cost of providing health care, by forcing employers with over 50 employees to cover every employee or pay a $2000 penalty for each employee,  by requiring all health plans to cover 10 essential benefits whether or not these benefits are desired or wanted by policy owners,   by disrupting current health plan  benefits for retirees  and for spouses and families of employees, and by raising uncertainties about costs of covering future employees.  As the number of insurers cancel health plans,  will a wave of cancellations by employers follow?  The disruptive rollout of and burgeoning numbers of health plan cancellations has raised questions of the Obama administration’s competence in managing ObamaCare and its effect on the economy. 

Tweet:  The health law is under attack at three levels – as a threat to individual liberties, as unconstitutional  and unlawful, and as economically harmful.

No comments: