The Individual Mandate: A Step Closer, but the Fight Against Obamacare Must Continue

Nina Owcharenko

As expected, the Supreme Court has decided to take up the court cases challenging Obamacare’s individual mandate and the question of whether the whole law should be struck down if the Court finds the mandate unconstitutional. This is another important step toward undoing this unpopular and unworkable health care law.
Recall the process by which the law came to be: Due to the special circumstances of Senator Scott Brown’s election, the House and Senate (under duress) jammed through the poorly drafted health care law, bypassing the normal conference process intended to smooth out what is now a complex and unworkable law.
Proponents also resorted to using Washington budget gimmicks to make sure that on paper the law would reach a favorable 10-year score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). But even these gimmicks have been exposed. Most recently, the Administration’s setback on the CLASS Act underscores the frailty and uncertainty of the law’s provisions.
Both CBO and the Chief Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services raised questions over the sustainability of the scheduled Medicare cuts. And new outside estimates continue to illustrate the magnitude of disruption as a result this health care law.
The individual mandate is the poster child of this Administration and the liberals in Congress overstepping their authority to inject the government into the lives of its citizens. The recent vote in Ohio rejecting the individual mandate underscores this point. Americans didn’t have to be health care experts to know that having the government require people to buy a government-mandated health insurance policy was a step too far.
And there is more. The health care law is over 2,700 pages long, adds trillions of dollars in new spending this country can’t afford, and expands the size and scope of the government at every turn.
For example, the health care law gives the federal government total control over what’s covered in “private” health insurance, usurps state authority over its state health insurance markets, establishes a costly new subsidy scheme to purchase government-approved health care, and massively expands Medicaid, a welfare program intended to serve the truly poor—to name just a few. The Medicaid expansion alone accounts for half of the projected reduction in uninsured “achieved” under the health care law.
If the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate, as it should, it should also strike down the rest of the law in its entirety. But the second step (the “severability” issue) is a closer question. The Court might get the first part right (striking down the individual mandate) but get the severability question wrong and not strike down the rest of the law. So, until the day the law is fully repealed, the job is not done.