Healthcare advocates throughout my country were thrilled yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that allowed for subsidies to help patients pay for healthcare insurance obtained through insurance exchanges nationwide.
Had the justices overturned that part of the legislation, something akin to chaos in the insurance marketplace could have ensued, owing to the fact that many who can barely afford coverage with the subsidy probably would have dropped their coverage and risked prosecution for not being covered at all. It might have meant that many who are relatively healthy but still couldn’t afford the coverage without a subsidy would drop their coverage, which would have put insurers in a tough spot, with too many chronic and acute issues to pay for, and not enough money coming in from healthy patients to make up the difference.
The vote of the nine-justice panel was 6 to 3. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, once again surprising many who thought he was the perfect neo-conservative to lead the highest court in the land when President Bush appointed him to the post a decade ago. His remarks included this little nugget:
”Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.”
Imagine that… he goes against nearly every republican in America, using one of their biggest rallying cries to do it: Free Market Capitalism!
The dissenting opinion, given from the bench by Justice Antonin Scalia, smacked of sour grapes, though I guess every dissenting opinion does to some degree. At one point, he got laughter from the courtroom for saying “We really should start calling this law SCOTUS-care”. He also referred to the majority opinion as “interpretive jiggery-pokery”.
Well, I’m just a high school graduate, so I never learned from books that contained such eloquent terms as “jiggery-pokery”, but I really hope that Justice Scalia, or Justice Alito, or Justice Thomas, who also sided with the minority, never have to experience moments where they have to choose between paying for healthcare for themselves or a loved one, and paying the rent. Republican members of the U.S. Congress, for their part, are still vowing to repeal this important legislation. They’ve already tried repealing all or parts of it 67 times.
I will also point out that a day later, our fair republic still stands, and still stands for the right to healthcare for everyone.
If we’re not for that, what are we saying? Really… if you’re against my right to affordable healthcare, are you saying that, although my diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes is not my fault, I don’t deserve to be able to afford to pay for care, drugs, and devices? Are you saying I should “work harder”, “get another job”, “do whatever it takes”, or adhere to some other catchphrase out of the conservative handbook?
Well, let me quote from another one of your favorite books, the holy bible.
Matthew, chapter 25, verses 44 through 46:
“Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Again, I am thrilled at the result of yesterday’s ruling. I do recognize that the law isn’t perfect, but had the challenge to the law been upheld, it would have been even less so.
Now, as I mentioned on Facebook yesterday, we can… continue to defend this law against all manner of attacks. Hopefully, yesterday’s decision makes defending it easier.
In other news: The Supreme Court just handed down another ruling, legalizing gay marriage nationwide. It’s been a busy week, Justices. Take the rest of the summer off.