If you carefully consider the claims of Obamacare’s defenders in King v. Burwell you will discover that their worst fear, sanctimonious pretense notwithstanding, is not the loss of insurance subsidies for some Americans. The most terrifying prospect for proponents of PPACA is that the Court will let Congress clean up its own mess. They do not want our elected representatives to have another chance to consider the will of the voters while revising Obamacare. And this is precisely what will happen if the justices fail to find anything in the law’s text permitting subsidies to be distributed via federal exchanges.
The Right Prescription
Supporters of the “Affordable Care Act” have been rather glum of late. Since the Supreme Court agreed to hear King v. Burwell, a lawsuit that challenges the Obama administration’s decision to funnel insurance subsidies through federal exchanges established in the 36 states that refused to create PPACA “marketplaces,” they have rather ironically bemoaned the possibility that five unelected justices could do irreparable damage to the law with one “wrong ruling.” Consequently, they have desperately grasped at a thin straw tossed their way by Justice Anthony Kennedy during Wednesday’s oral arguments about the case.
John Adams, in a 1775 essay referencing the Roman historian Livy and other sources, wrote that a republic was “a nation of laws, not of men.” As recently as fifty years ago, most Americans would have intuitively understood his point and why it was relevant to their lives. Today, it isn’t clear that the President of the United States, the leaders of the Democratic Party, or the members of our “news” media would grasp the meaning of Adams’ words, much less that they still matter today. We will soon discover if the same can be said of the Supreme Court.
Last week, the White House took to Twitter for purposes of publicizing its latest Obamacare enrollment blarney. Far more informative than the tweet’s fictitious sign-up numbers was the schmaltzy video to which it was linked. Staged in the Oval Office, this one-act farce features a simpering HHS Secretary briefing our Thespian in Chief, who then delivers the following soliloquy: “The Affordable Care Act is working. It’s working better than we anticipated. It’s certainly working a lot better than many of the critics talked about early on.” In Obama’s 27-word script, “working” appears three times. The President doth protest too much, methinks.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell three weeks from now, and the possibility that the justices might uphold the health care “reform” law as written has driven our liberal friends to the edge of lunacy. This is never a long journey for anyone on the left, of course, but they have arrived at the precipice with unusual alacrity this time. Their predictions about the outcome should the Court rule that “established by the state” actually means “established by the state” have gone from the merely portentous to the downright apocalyptic in only a few months.
When it became obvious a couple of years ago that Obamacare would accelerate health care inflation, the law’s boosters began claiming that cost control was never its primary goal. PPACA’s promoters had previously promised that it would reduce annual health care expenses by $2,500 per family while improving access and quality of care. But the facts forced them to abandon that pledge and adopt a safer party line. As expressed by the New York Times, the new story goes thus: “At its most basic level, the Affordable Care Act was intended to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance.”
I put off reading Steven Brill’s new book for much the same reason I procrastinate when it’s time to clean the gutters on my house. I was sure it would be a boring chore that would leave me yearning for a shower. A previous encounter with this writer’s work in a 2013 edition of Time suggested that this tome would contain a catalogue of canards about U.S. health care, a tendentious account of the tawdry political process that produced Obamacare, and some hare-brained theory on how to fix our medical delivery system once and for all.
Marilyn Tavenner, the Obama administration official who presided over Obamacare’s worst debacles and most devious deceptions, has finally made an intelligent decision—she resigned. Tavenner ran the government bureaucracy responsible for the inept rollout of HealthCare.gov, the promulgation of phony PPACA enrollment figures, and the handout of legally dubious waivers to Democrat-friendly donors. And, when Congress subpoenaed her emails—stop me if you’ve heard this one before—she discovered that they had somehow been deleted. Having thus committed as many blunders as can be reasonably expected of any incompetent apparatchik, she announced last Friday that she will depart next month.
One reason your insurance premiums have skyrocketed during the past year is that Obamacare requires all health plans to provide “free” annual wellness visits and 15 associated preventive services for which they cannot charge the patient a copayment. According to a key architect of PPACA, however, “the annual physical exam is basically worthless.” Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, last heard from claiming that he wants to die at 75 in order to avoid becoming a burden on society, writes in the New York Times that “screening healthy people who have no complaints is a pretty ineffective way to improve people’s health.”
Obamacare was designed such that its most harmful provisions would not be implemented until after the President had been returned to office for a second term and his Democrat accomplices had been reelected to their congressional seats. Fortunately for the nation, the latter part of that strategy was a spectacular failure. Nonetheless, it did provide the public with a temporary reprieve from the health care law’s most painful exactions. That brief respite is now at an end. This year, you will begin to experience the realities of “reform” first hand and you are not going to like how it feels.