The Latest Stealth "End" to the ACA

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

According to the Washington Examiner, the scheduled reduction of the individual mandate penalty tax to zero in 2019 is the final stick of dynamite Republicans too cowardly to repeal the ACA have been waiting for!

If Republican spines didn't always rubberize whenever Democrats jerked their knees, we'd be much freer and more prosperous. (Image via Pixabay.)
In fact, the only basis for the mandate's constitutionality, according to Roberts, is that it's a tax -- not a fine, penalty, or anything else. This is a vital point, because when Republicans passed their tax reform legislation in December 2017, they included a provision in the law that lowers the individual mandate penalty to $0 beginning in January 2019, effectively eliminating any hope the individual mandate could still be considered a "tax."

If the tax-less individual mandate is now found to be unconstitutional, it could very likely result in the entire healthcare law being struck down. In their 2012 dissenting opinion, four Supreme Court judges argued the ACA could not survive absent the individual mandate. Although Roberts never addressed the question in his opinion, there are good reasons to believe he should agree to throw the entire law out.
Just like there were good reasons to believe he wouldn't have pulled that "tax" rabbit out of his ... wherever he got that from. So for this tack to work, we have to hope that no one finds a creative way to avoid making a common-sense decision.

And then there's this:
This means all it would take to end Obamacare is a decision by the Trump administration not to enforce this illegal law by agreeing to settle the lawsuit brought by plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Such a move would likely trigger lawsuits from left-leaning states and intense legal battles, but perhaps in the process, Congress would finally be motivated to repeal and replace Obamacare -- something it has failed to do despite its leadership having promised to do so for eight years. [bold added]
And there's the rest of the problem. We should repeal -- full stop. There is no need to legislate freedom: That's what this unjust law abridges. But even when the GOP did sling around the word "repeal" in an effort to sound tough, they softened that with "replace," because they are not truly convinced of the righteousness of the causes of justice and protection of individual rights.

I am not holding my breath for the contemplated Supreme Court ruling, nor am I particularly sanguine about the prospect of the GOP scrapping the ACA and introducing other reforms to transition the medical sector to a free market. This scenario does offer a sliver of hope, but the track record of the conservatives gives me doubts, to say the least.

-- CAV

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