Consumer 12.0: In defense of Obamacare
|By Jeff Gelles, The Philadelphia Inquirer|
But I've watched others suffer for a lack of it, and I worry about my daughters having to navigate an increasingly tough health-care market. So I was struck last week at the breathtaking lack of common sense among some of our nation's smartest people.
Yes, I'm talking about the
Since the justices have undoubtedly had Grade A health insurance throughout their high-powered careers, maybe they're just too distant from the real world to understand what's at stake for more than 40 million Americans who lack insurance, or for everybody else who's just one layoff and a bad medical break away from having to forgo crucial care or face a medical bankruptcy. So here are five things I hope the justices keep in mind as they weigh the fate of Obamacare:
The health-care market is a genuine mess. If that's not obvious, it should be. Tens of millions of people -- as many as one of every four people in
If the uninsured can't pay, the rest of us pick up the tab. According to Solicitor General
The libertarian position is fantasy. You know the everybody-just-take-personal-responsibility argument -- the one ventured by U.S. Rep.
Unlike some libertarians, Paul didn't suggest just turning the man away -- as a doctor, he knows that's been against federal law since the 1980s, and wouldn't play well beyond his fans. But here's the bottom line: Unless we want to roll back the clock to a world where patients die outside hospital doors, the only question is who pays.
Paul's stance was echoed last week by
And if you're not? We're back to the who-pays question. That's why we're discussing the individual mandate, a market-based alternative that both sides of the political spectrum considered an imperfect compromise -- that is, before conservatives started disavowing it as an affront to liberty. Personally, I'd prefer
The opponents' Commerce Clause argument doesn't pass the smell test. Health-care accounts for about 17 percent of the national economy, and virtually everyone needs it at some point. Regulating commerce "among the several States" is among the "enumerated powers" that the Constitution gives
When he took over the case for Obamacare's opponents,
The truth is, we're all "in the health care market," simply because life is fragile and unpredictable. Young and healthy as you are, you can arrive at a hospital unconscious after getting hit by a bus. Which brings us to ...
No, it's not like broccoli, or cellphones, or burial insurance. My not buying a cellphone generally doesn't raise the cost for everybody else. Burials can be pricey, but keeping people alive is what can cost millions. The price of a commodity like broccoli will likely rise if more people buy it, not fall, and people can live without it. Above all, none of those markets is subject to massive cost-shifting.
Death panels. Remember this, the most famous canard of the long debate over Obamacare -- the claim that a new, 15-member
Well, here's the real irony: If a majority of the
For all its faults, Obamacare was
Go back to square one, and more people are pretty much guaranteed to die. Is that really what the
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