Today’s ruling that the United States Supreme Court will not question the “wisdom” of Obamacare is interesting and surprising. I think the best soundbite I have heard as I watch the coverage unfold is,”If the economy were better, I would feel better about it.” Exactly. With unemployment high, we’ve just decided to tax people who may not have a job to begin with. I’m not sure how I feel about the provision that would allow children up to 26 years old to stay on their parents’ insurance policies. But we do need to acknowledge that under Obama, more 26 year olds can’t find work than ever before. That begs the question as to whether we are fixing the actual problem or not. Apparently, the ruling came down to the court’s decision that the individual mandate is, in effect, a tax. The Supreme Court justices have upheld all aspects of the law based on the fact that the Federal Government has the right to tax Americans. Not to treat this matter lightly, but did the Supreme Court just levy a tax? And when did that become legal? Isn’t Congress charged with levying taxes? While we moderate Republicans applaud the fact that insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and that 30 million uninsured Americans will now have access to health insurance, the fact is uber-Democrats like Jerry Brown balked at parts of Obamacare because the money just isn’t there. The President is promising subsidies for individuals who can’t afford to buy their own insurance and grants to states for their expanded Medicaid programs. Now more than ever we need to ask ourselves, “With a 15 trillion dollar deficit, can he afford to do that?”
There will be no change unless Congress acts on Mitt Romney’s promise, that if elected, he will introduce legislation to repeal Obamacare. We’re still watching the coverage but my initial reaction is that it is a well-intentioned, highly flawed program that we can’t afford. It is true that more people have insurance in Massachusetts as a result of the changes Romney instituted when he was Governor of that state but it is also true that Massachusetts could afford the changes then and the federal government today can’t. If you haven’t purchased insurance by 2014, you will be taxed for not getting into the system. The tax for not carrying insurance will start at a couple of hundred dollars but will rise incrementally to thousands. Companies with 50 employees or less will be taxed $2000.00 per employee if they don’t provide them with health insurance.
The Court did have the sense to strike down the portion of Obamacare that would have forced states to forfeit all of their Medicaid funding if they couldn’t afford to expand their Medicaid rolls. I know recent polls have shown Obama leading in three key swing states but I predict this is going to galvanize Republicans the way they were energized around the mid-term elections in 2010. Don’t forget a majority of Americans, even those who supported healthcare reform, were opposed to the individual mandate. We cannot feel good about ourselves as a country until we make sure those at the bottom of our system have access. We’re not sure what that dance is going to look like between the I.R.S. and the states over these taxes and grants, we’re concerned that Medicare was working for most Seniors and should have been left alone and we hope it isn’t true that Obamacare is going to cost 1 million jobs, as the Congressional Budget Office has stated.