The Lawsuit Against Health Care

matthew's picture
Found this article in my local online rag this morning.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Attorneys general from 13 states -- including Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff -- sued the federal government Tuesday, claiming the landmark health care overhaul is unconstitutional just seven minutes after President Barack Obama signed it into law.

This is the same Attorney General who claims we don't have the resources to enforce the Utah State Constitution, yet we somehow magically have the resources now to take up a challenge to the first bill -- the first few baby steps -- to reform the horribly broken, incredibly expensive bureaucracy that is the US healthcare system?

I understand that, without a public option, this amounts to an unfunded mandate like No Child Left Behind. And that execrable act at a cost of around $30Bn a year, leaving $9Bn a year to be made up by the states, still never received as much criticism as this one.

"The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage," the lawsuit says.

Legal experts say it has little chance of succeeding because, under the Constitution, federal laws trump state laws.

Let me get this straight. I'm in good health. My kids are in good health. My wife is in good health. As a taxpayer, I'm already funding health care coverage and retirement for America's over-fifty majority through FICA, and capped my Social Security benefits years and years ago... I will never see a dime of the $13,500 max (EDIT: Uhh, that's changed. It's over $15,000 as of 2010) the federal government is allowed to take from me every year. My employer pays $700 a month for my health insurance, and I pay $810 a month for it. So the total cost of health insurance -- not including dental, vision, and life insurance -- is over EIGHTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR. Add that to FICA -- which is really just a big, charitable donation at this point -- and between the Feds and the insurance monopolies, I am out potentially over $30K a year.

Thirty. Thousand. Dollars. To pay for somebody else's retirement, somebody else's health care, and oh, by the way, a few hundred bucks of health care for me and my kids every year.

My employer refuses to give me a raise. Know why? The rising cost of health care, they tell me, IS my raise. And the amount I'm paying for health care DOUBLED over just the past nine years. We have to do SOMETHING to curb this crisis, and I'm just happy to see someone have the constituency and courage to finally get started on the process.

Then the AG for my state gets a bug in his butt to kowtow to the insurance company lobbyists, and here we are. I'm already subsidizing someone here. In my point of view, all this bloody bill does is show the average taxpayer who it is they're paying for.

In Michigan, the Thomas More Law Center of Ann Arbor, a Christian legal advocacy group, sued on behalf of itself and four people it says don't have private health insurance and object to being told they have to purchase it.

You know, I get this part. The Feds mandating that every American buy private health insurance is a little bit grating. We should really have a low-cost, minimal-coverage public option that everybody could pay for if they don't have other coverage.

Oh, wait. The right wing and insurance lobby killed the Public Option. Now they are the ones grousing about not having a public option. What the heck?

But I kind of see the point now. See, without a Public Option, this bill is an absolutely enormous win for the insurance lobby. Now everybody HAS to have insurance! What a marvelous recruiting opportunity for insurance companies!

The lawsuit claims the bill violates the 10th Amendment, which says the federal government has no authority beyond the powers granted to it under the Constitution, by forcing the states to carry out its provisions but not reimbursing them for the costs.

Right. Just like NCLB did. And all these Attorneys General lined up to block that pig-headed, anti-education mandate under George Bush, Jr.

Oh, wait. They didn't.

Other changes would not kick in until 2014.

That's when most Americans will for the first time be required to carry health insurance -- either through an employer or government program or by buying it themselves. Those who refuse will face tax penalties.

"This is the first time in American history where American citizens will be forced to buy a particular good or service," said Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, explaining why his state joined the lawsuit.

Actually, untrue. We are required to purchase auto insurance if we drive an automobile. We are currently required to purchase health insurance if we don't have the cash to pay for huge medical bills out-of-pocket, bills that are so huge because we've already been forced to fund emergency-room visits for uninsured individuals and fund huge lawsuits which are the legal community's equivalent of winning the lottery.

Why not insurance-industry reform instead? Let's have some oversight over the out-of-control insurance industry that charges extortionate sums and refuses to cover many of the claims. We know now that the past forty years of incredible rise in medical costs can be laid at the foot of the insurance companies, not technology or litigation.

Oh, that's right. We can't reform the insurance industry. They are making unheard-of profits, and own most of our politicians. That's the only reason the current health-care bill saw the light of day: because despite the hugely-divisive nature of health care reform, this one is just enough of a sweetheart deal for the insurance industry to buy key politicians who might have considered voting against it... or voting in some other reforms.

Can you tell I'm ambivalent about this bill? I'm optimistic, but given that the public option was excised from the bill in order for it to pass, I look at it now as more charity for the bloated, unproductive insurance industry... and we need to fix that as soon as possible.


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matthew's picture

And in case you didn't notice...

And in case you didn't notice, the federal government has been quietly raising the income cap for Social Security deductions since 2005... and completely eliminated the Medicare cap during the Bush administration, too.

And if you don't think you're paying both "halves" of your FICA, think again. Your employer isn't giving you that raise because the amounts they have to pay have been going up for years, too.

This crap has been coming for a long time, folks. Obama is trying to put out the wildfire by introducing sweeping health care reform. It's been stoked into a blaze by the past five administrations.

Matthew P. Barnson

Ben's picture

That's a great article, Matt.

That's a great article, Matt. The short answer is that, as long as hospitals are required by law to treat people, it is sensible to require American citizens to contribute towards defraying and spreading out those costs. The longer answer is that the popular reform of prohibiting insurance companies from denying or ending coverage for those with pre-existing conditions is impossible without an individual mandate. Because if only sick people buy health insurance, the costs will be through the roof. Healthy people (and really, anyone could get sick at any moment) need to contribute to the system in order to increase the risk pool.


matthew's picture

I get that...

Healthy people (and really, anyone could get sick at any moment) need to contribute to the system in order to increase the risk pool.

I get that. My complaint is that I'm already paying so freaking much every year toward health care, this bill seems to be the first move ever to try to reduce it, and my own Attorney General is acting to block the reform. So I'm cautiously optimistic, but pissed off at my AG while simultaneously being quite mad about the 40% (or so) of my income each year that is already being seized between taxes, medicare, social security, and the insurance industry.

Matthew P. Barnson

Sammy G's picture

Going to 45%

Going to 45% tax rate for the wealthy class. This is income redistribution at its finest. Of course, the terrible thing about all this is that income distribution isn't just going to health care balance. It's going to prop up democracies in other parts of the world. At least Obama reformed health care in less than two years. How long have we been in Afghanistan?

weed's picture

So the best I can gather is

So the best I can gather is that now, instead of us paying for people to get free health care (paid for by us) via the Emergency room, now they can get free health care at a primary care doc/urgent care clinic? Which is better because if they go to their primary care more often, it should cost less $$$ in the long run because they should be healthier. But it does nothing to stop the reasons for spiraling health care costs, right?

And it costs more to tan. And the gov't now runs your student loans.

Did I miss anything?

My $.02

My $.02