Is the Obamacare ruling good news?


Chief Justice John Robert’s atypical alignment with the left of the bench today led the Supreme Court to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act—a move generally lauded by liberals. But we spoke with a number of progressives who see Obamacare’s victory as solely a victory for the corrupt health insurance industry, and just another step off the path to a successful single-payer solution.

“This bill was written by and for the health insurance industry,” Clark Newhall,a physician and lawyer who is executive director of Utah’s Health Justice, told us. “It’s always been a bailout. It creates a huge new market of people who are forced to buy a shoddy product from a smarmy industry.”

Newhall said insurance industry execs constantly get $200,000 bonuses while health insurance premiums increase two or threefold. The industry found “accomplices in Obama and the Democratic Congress to do its bidding. It creates a government subsidy for these people so in essence this is simply a transfer of government money to the private insurance industry, similar to the bank bailout,” he said.

Many left-of-center Democrats, in fact, called on the Court to strike down the individual mandate that requires all Americans to either have health insurance or pay a penalty—the penalty the Court determined to be a tax, and thus Constitutional.

“Obama said this is the only way to cover everyone,” Russell Mokhiber, the founder of Single Payer Action who joined with 50 doctors to file an amicus brief with the Court rejecting the individual mandate’s constitutionality based on the Commerce Clause. “There are Constitutional ways to cover everyone. Single-payer already exists in Medicare for those over 65 and Medicaid for poor people. There’s a simple fix, which most of the western industrialized world has. The only way to control costs and cover everyone is single-payer,” he said.

According to Mokhiber, millions of people will still be left lacking insurance. He pointed to his electrician, a 63-year-old postponing a major operation until he can get Medicare in two years. “One hundred and twenty Americans die every day from lack of insurance,” he said.

Twenty-six million people in the country are currently uninsured, and the number is expected to grow even with the upholding of individual mandate, physician and congressional fellow Margaret Flowers told us. Although the ACA includes federal subsidies for some low-income people, many don’t make the cut. For example, employers with more than 49 employees are required to provide affordable care -- but only for individuals and not their family members. In turn, the family members are no longer eligible for government subsidies, because a member of their household receives insurance from his or her place of work.

The SCOTUS’s rejection of the portion of Obamacare that took federal funds away from states that refused to expand Medicaid further places a burden on low-income Americans. “Upholding the requirement that individuals buy private insurance while allowing states to opt out of Medicaid expansion is the worst possible outcome,” author Gwendolyn Mink told the Institute for Pubic Accuracy today. “Achieving universal coverage by compelling low income Americans to purchase private insurance may beef up health industry profits but at the expense of people most in need of health care for all."

Over at the Daily Kos, blogger Armando says the nature of the Roberts opinion could have more long-term detrimental effects on federal power in the future. In fact, he said, it’s “a shot across the bow to the Supreme Court's New Deal jurisprudence that underpins our modern national government.” Rather than simply explain why the individual mandate qualifies as a tax, Roberts additionally took care to describe why it does not fall under the Necessary and Proper Clause or the Commerce Clause.

“Such a conception of the Necessary and Proper Clause would work a substantial expansion of federal authority," warned Roberts, causing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to question why he should “strive so mightily to hem in Congress’ capacity to meet the new problems arising constantly in our ever developing modern economy.”


This ruling will energize the Romney campaign while putting Obama on the defensive - remember it was ObamaCare that directly gave rise to the massive emergence of the Tea Party, which was a thosuand times more organized and effective than Occupy (who? what happened to them anyway?)

Plus, as you say, ObamaCare was a botched compromise. Liebermann crucially gutted it of it's most "progressive" feature and the health business is happy - many mealthcare stocks were up 10% today!

Roberts is arguably the smartest judge ever to sit on SCOTUS. A brilliant mind.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

after Obama's inauguration. Healthcare was passed a long time after that. Their raison d'etre has never had anything to do with healthcare other than it serves as a good motivator for their unfocused rage.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

really only started to gain massive popular support when Obama tried to socialize healthcare in the US. Liebermann thankfully nixxed the single-payer option but, even so, the American people became mad as hell and decided to do something about it.

What did happen to Occupy, BTW. Even SFBG has stopped talking about it.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

and now they have one of Occupy too. It's hard to understand what you're talking about when you claim the Teabaggers have "massive popular support." Maybe amongst you and your friends they do but most people don't like the Teabaggers one bit.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 3:45 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

Glad that you hold them in such high regard. Most of us do not.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

They have zero interest in your opinion of them, and why should they?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

But it's good to know that you're one of that 16%. An overwhelming mandate I might add.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

Works for me.

Nothing is stopping you standing for office to make things "better". Knock yourself out.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

jesus christ. who cares if the people don't regard congress? because they're supposed to represent the people, not take power and do whatever they want with it because ha ha, they won? you know...the US is supposed to be a democracy. capitalism is supposed to work out for us because its the "most democratic way to do it," not because it gives a few people power and money. But that's how it turned out, and now everyone wants to freaking bow to them for it. Congress is supposed to represent the people! That's the purpose! Lord.

Posted by probably a hipster on Jun. 29, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

for House or Senate members that you'd prefer to see.

Whining from the sidelines just doesn't cut it nor confer credibility.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 29, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

Obama seems to be opposed to mandate here, but then who knows what a politician is ever saying?

I do think that the Guardian questioning the mandate is an interesting turn of events.

Posted by Matlock on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 6:29 pm

Individual Mandate + Citizens United = fast track to corporate serfdom as any firm or sector can try to purchase enough elections and create the climate of fear of electoral challenge and can then impose a tax penalty unless we buy their product.

There's enough Swedish meatballs to feed every hostage that's experienced the Stockholm Syndrome given the zeal with which the Democrabs are defending the Heritage Foundation's insurance plan that was also promoted by Gingrich, Dole and Romney.

Obama lost the House in 2010 because he abandoned his base and the base returned the favor and odds appear to be that Obama will lose the White House this November.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 8:03 pm

to avoid the word tax so as not to alienate people from it, and then it turns out that it is actually a tax?

The citizens are not safe from either party.

Now some right wing idiot is going to call for an abortion tax of 20,000 dollars or some such idiocy.

The slippery slope is real.

Posted by Matlock on Jun. 29, 2012 @ 12:07 am

Didn't someone run for office in 2008 under the promise to not raise taxes on the middle class and allow the government to negotiate bulk deals with pharma?

Posted by marcos on Jun. 29, 2012 @ 6:00 am

Good thing I didn't read his lips.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 29, 2012 @ 9:10 am

I keep hearing about this Muslim socialist who wants to destroy the American free market. And I keep wondering, 'Who *IS* this guy they keep talking about??? I want to vote for *that* guy!'

Posted by Greg on Jun. 30, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

"hate radio"?

Do you find it funny like reading this half baked Guardian stuff, or is because it empowers your sense of self righteous bitterness?

Posted by Matlock on Jul. 02, 2012 @ 10:53 pm

I'm surprised you're not littered with holes considering all the bile and negativity you put out on a daily basis. It must be miserable to be you.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 9:56 pm

Actually, it is pretty good to be me right about now.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 29, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

Feeling good today Marcos?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 30, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

As if.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 01, 2012 @ 9:00 am

just torpedoed the liberals by giving them exactly what they wanted. A canny maneuver by a genuine tactician, as a tax can be repealed with 51 Senate votes via reconciliation, the same route by which Obamacare became law. The vulnerable Dems in the Senate already fear November.

Obama is now obliged to defend a massive tax increase in a weak economy as his signature achievement.

Thank you, liberals. Your incessant navel-gazing prevents you from ever seeing the big picture. It's the gift that keeps giving!

Posted by Chromefields on Jun. 29, 2012 @ 8:24 am

There is nothing liberal about ACA. The bankruptcy of American liberalism lain bare in that liberals are falling over one another to defend the Heritage Foundation's idea of "health reform."

The way that politics functions in the US is that the Republicans viciously attack the Democrats and in response the Democrats viciously attack the Democrat base.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 29, 2012 @ 9:09 am

of. This can be used by Romney to energize his base. While there is little of risk of ObamaCare being fully implmented as Congress can change it or simply refuse to fund key provisions.

Liberals could find themselves rejoicing in haste and regretting at leisure. Machievelli would be proud.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 29, 2012 @ 9:09 am

This is what they get for voting for Obama. I warned them not to get their hopes up too high and they called me a Debbie Downer.

Now they're being amped up by the hype machine again and they're calling me a Debbie Downer again.

How much longer will Americans subject themselves to the herd mentality, a phenomenon which is equally odious on the right wing side?

What's worse here is that the ACA will result in raising as many barriers to care as it eliminates or lowers, and combined with sliding back eligibility ages for Social Security and Medicare, is an effort deny health care and retirement security that has predictable results--culling the herd, working us to death and then disposing of us.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 29, 2012 @ 9:22 am

I'm not even a progressive - but at least single payer makes more fundamental sense...

Would rather the Obama v. Romney debate just focus on economic growth - this just throws a wrench in

Posted by Guest on Jun. 30, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

was back when they had a majority in the House. Chances are come November, the GOP will win the Senate and then ObamaCare will be DOA anyway - they'll either repeal it or refuse to fund it.

In America, we don't do socialism - not even the Democrats.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 30, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

Your comment is a perfect example of that ignorance.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 30, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

Bitter real Greg is upset that people don't adhere to his identified versions of socialism.

Socialism to Greg is all the single party failure without all the mass murder that is frowned on sometimes.

Posted by Matlock on Jul. 02, 2012 @ 10:58 pm

Most of the left are useful idiots for the big insurance and drug companies who are salivating over the profits they are going to make from Obamacare.

The rest of us will be compelled to buy expensive insurance which may very well not suit our needs.

Single payer is a non-starter. You are delusional if you think we will get that (and it does have serious problems of its own).

Moving towards a market driven system - with insurance reserved for serious illnesses only, plus real price competition in the marketplace, with some charity to help the poor - is the best way to go.

Posted by Mark F. on Jul. 01, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

Yeah, market feedback mechanisms work very well for things like health care.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 01, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

They may not be good news for everyone but then again this is always the case. We just have to stick together and see what's best from this program, find the sense of it, this would help.

Posted by doctor on Aug. 06, 2012 @ 12:08 pm