Surprise, surprise. Obamacare, aka the Affordable [sic] Care Act, is dead, pending a possible Supreme Court review.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth sided with the argument put forward by a coalition of Republican-leaning states, led by Texas, that Obamacare could no longer stand now that there’s no penalty for Americans who don’t buy insurance.
The U.S. Supreme Court had upheld the law in 2012, by classifying the legislation as a tax. But since Congress removed the individual mandate in 2017, O’Connor ruled, there’s no way the ACA can be allowed to stand.
Arrivederci, sayonara, good-bye, we hardly knew ya. Is there anybody currently breathing who actually understands the details of Obamacare? Nancy “You Have to Pass It in Order to Understand It” Pelosi certainly didn’t and I doubt she does now, even as she presumably ascends once more to speaker of the House.
Maybe Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel — the putative architect of the ACA — does, but he was about as intelligible as a Martian speaking Sanskrit when trying to explain it on television. (Giving Emanuel his due, he’s said some pretty interesting things about the obsolescence of hospitals lately.)
Actually, the legislation was the kludge of kludges, the Rube Goldberg machine of Rube Goldberg machines. Neither unfettered free market, nor socialist single payer, it was nothing. Just an inscrutable headache. (Of course, some say that was deliberate. It was built to fail so that it could be replaced by single-payer. But they didn’t think a judge would disallow it.)
The only part of this legislation people seemed to like — in fact, the only part they seem to remember, if you listen to the talking heads — was the requirement to insure those with pre-existing conditions (cancer, heart disease, etc.).
This one aspect of the ACA remains crucial and is considered just by a large percentage of the population. Republicans would be well-advised to move on preserving this requirement immediately and find a way to codify it with new legislation. Yes, this judicial decision was a surprising turn of events, but that should be the impetus to act more quickly, even during the lame-duck session.
Indeed, the GOP would be smart to move swiftly to draft new targeted healthcare legislation that includes one or two other popular favorites, such as the ability to seek insurance across state lines, creating competition, and lowering prices.
The Democrats are likely — scratch that — certain to yell and scream about the “unfairness” of the end of Obamacare but will (eagerly) instantly move on to their beloved socialized medicine. (Cue Ocasio-Cortez.)
Republicans have to head this off at the pass if they wish to preserve free market medicine. Free market (capitalist-based) medicine has been vastly more important to everyone’s health than most realize, because it has been the impetus for many of the extraordinary high-tech inventions and advanced pharmaceuticals that have driven the life expectancy of Americans ever higher (until now, with the opioid crisis, alas). Moreover, it has induced many of our most intelligent people to be doctors. Don’t we want our best and brightest in that role? Without a free market, it wouldn’t be that way.
There is no final solution to healthcare. It is a commodity there never will be enough of. But we already have a form of socialized medicine in Medicaid. We should strengthen it. The best way to make that happen is through the free market system.
By the way, Chuck Schumer, ever the political hack, has just announced the judge’s decision is a disaster for Americans with pre-existing conditions, even though Trump has said umpteen times, including in a tweet minutes ago, that he adamantly favors preserving insurance for those with pre-existing conditions. Good ol’ Chuck.
Roger L. Simon — co-founder and CEO Emeritus of PJ Media — is an author and screenwriter.