Back Home Again in Indiana…

As we walked into the passenger lounge in Chicago’s Union Station on our way home, the TVs were all on “breaking news”–the Supreme Court had upheld the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare” by a 5-4 vote.

There’s much that could be said about the Court’s decision–and virtually all of it has now been said. Initially, most legal scholars had predicted this result, which was dictated by relevant precedent; however, recently, Scalia had gone out of his way to reject those precedents, including his own prior rulings, stirring speculation that the Court might overturn the Act. (Scalia’s behavior, in several recent cases, has been so bizarre as to generate a cottage industry in armchair psychology…with one notable Court observer suggesting that he has “jumped the shark.”)

Lawyers and legal scholars will be in hog heaven dissecting the decision, the dissent, and what many attribute to Chief Justice Roberts’ concern that a contrary ruling would further damage the legitimacy of a politicized Court. I’ll leave those arcane arguments to them. What I have found utterly amazing–and ludicrous–is the public reaction from the right.

It is perfectly acceptable to disagree with the Supreme Court. I do it all the time myself. It is perfectly acceptable to dispute the wisdom of the ACA as policy. I’d have preferred a “Medicare for All” approach myself (although I recognize the political constraints that made such a solution to our health care crisis impossible). But the hysteria that greeted the Court’s ruling is quite simply astonishing. People are threatening to move to Canada (which has truly socialized medicine), comparing Obama’s effort to extend access to health care to Hitler’s Germany…this is the stuff of mass psychosis.

And then there is Mike Pence.

The man who has been blanketing our airwaves with soft-focus, “just a Hoosier like you” thirty-second ads, the man who is skillfully rewriting his own history to obscure his radical persona, just couldn’t stay in (his newly assumed) character. Pence compared the Supreme Court’s ruling to 9/11.

Think about that for a moment. A President and a majority of the legislature recognized that America had a healthcare crisis. Fifty million people could not afford health insurance, while spiraling costs posed a huge threat to the economy. Half of all personal bankruptcies were due to medical emergencies…I could go on, but you know the drill. The President and Congress addressed the problem with a complex piece of legislation.

And this–in Mike Pence’s strange reality–was equivalent to a terrorist attack. Trying to provide universal access to medical care is just like killing 3000 innocent people.

Pence immediately tried to walk this obscene reaction back, by calling it a “thoughtless” remark. As a friend of mine observed, thoughtless is when you forget your anniversary.

In what reality is an effort to fix a national problem, an effort to provide health care to children with pre-existing conditions, an effort to reign in abuses by insurance companies, a national calamity? What accounts for such a bizarre and disproportionate response to a measure that was first proposed by Republicans like Bob Dole, and first instituted at the state level by none other than Mitt Romney?

Someone recently said that if Obama endorsed oxygen, Republicans would suffocate themselves. This irrational response to a piece of well-intentioned legislation would seem to prove the point.


  1. This Supereme Court decision eased many of my fears for those in this country needing medical care. But again the Republicans are calling it raising taxesx not mentioning these taxes will come when Bush’s tax cut for wealthy ends January 2013 – IF and only IF – President Obama is reelected. Can’t remember which Republican was blathering on MSNBC yesterday complaining that people would be forced to change their insurance coverage due to health care reform; he said everyone should be allowed to keep their present insurance if they are satisfied with it. Where to they get these idiotic views? Pence’s comment brings to mind an old quote, “Better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and dispel all doubt.” Of course, there were few of us left who doubted this man is a fool. This being Indiana, he will probably be our next governor. What will Daniels leave for him to privatize, outsource, lease or sell off from this state?

  2. I think the Democrats need to challenge the Republicans’ claims that this raises taxes. They are now trying to make people believe that the ACA raises everyone’s taxes, when the fact is that, according to the Supreme Court’s interpretation, any “tax” will simply be a penalty against those individuals who choose not to get health care. This is a reasonable incentive to get the health care that will prevent those individuals from becoming a burden on all the rest of us who have health care, but are forced to pay higher costs to cover their failure to pay. So, if you have health insurance, you won’t pay the tax. If you don’t have health insurance, you can avoid the tax by getting health insurance. And if you refuse to get health insurance, you should have to pay something to help defray the cost of the health care you are getting but not paying for.

    But I think it is likely, knowing their track record, that the Dems will sit back and wait until most of the country buys this false argument, and then wonder why they can’t get more support. That’s what happened with Single Payer, and that’s what will happen with the mandate.

  3. Canada likely is better. For starters, their % of poor is very low from what I hear. Thus, if Canadians are paying 50% in income taxes due to their government healthcare system, the US rate will have to be near 60% if not more.

    There now is no reason for any entity, Lilly, Chase Bank, Indiana University, etc. to offer insurance. IU is paying $150ish million in healthcare, with around only $10M going to administrative costs. Yes, socialist medicine will erase this $10M, but it won’t fix the problem. When $150M is going to actual cost of medicine and care, $10M is a drop in the bucket. Oh, and the hundreds (maybe thousands?) of people employed by Wellpoint/Anthem….well, I guess Indiana will just have more unemployed folks. Even if they were all magically made government employees, the tax revenue on their incomes would be slashed greatly. I can only hope the coming universal healthcare plan isn’t ran like the government housing units Freddie and Fannie.

    Doctors and nurses should plan now for what is coming. Massive cuts in pay on the horizon. I see lots of good hospital nurses opting for M-Thursday, weekends off, no holiday higher ed teaching jobs. The only option for companies is to offer insurance, with no ability to turn someone away, or pay a tax. The tax will be cheaper, then the employees can either buy insurance, which will still cost a ton, or pay a tax. Again, the tax will be cheaper. The employees will then demand a government system, as if they are paying this new tax, they had better get something in return.

    Full on socialist healthcare is coming. Death panels won’t be needed. Rules will be such that after certain ages, one is no longer eligible for certain kinds of care. End-of-life costs drive healthcare costs. Also, chances are our level of care will take a step backwards, as some specialty doctors will likely decide it isn’t worth what the government will mandate they get paid (or they might become government employees).

    Our future is that of Europe: No money to remodel K-12 schools, no money to building new university buildings, no money to repair bridges and roads. Everything will go to healthcare, unless massive changes are made (ie: Age limits for end of life care).

    I’m thrilled with the coming socialist healthcare. I will likely be in such a financial situation, that I will be able to quit my job, let some other sucker work the holidays and weekends while the gov takes half their check. I can do what I want, and let everyone else pay for my healthcare!!

  4. Jason; I’m glad you mentioned WellPoint/Anthem, this gives me a chance to bitch on line. My son and daughter-in-law pay $450 monthly for their Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield health care family plan…not bad except for the $9,000 annual decuctible. So they are paying $450 monthly to each carry an insurance card in their wallets. This is the only insurance plan the Catholic Archdiocese offers employees. WellPoint let go more than 900 employees over a year ago, no money to pay them. A few weeks later another article in the Star stated the WellPoint CEO earned $15 MILLION per year. Poor woman; due to the economy it dropped to $13.2 MILLION last year. So my son and daughter-in-law are supporting this multi-millionaire while paying all of their medical bills but they have that f@#%&*g card in their wallets to present to their doctor. I hope this issue is addressed somewhere in this health care reform for all families who are paying for a service they are entitled to but few of them receive.

  5. While polls say this is a bitter disappointment for most of America, I love the silver lining of the Commerce Clause encountering limits and the 7-2 vote against government coersion. This also shifts the mess into that emphemeral lump of unaffordable benefits “paid for” with tax system even more in dire need of reform.

    It’s ironic that as our country was founded in-part on tax protest, that’s where we’ll have to return. Taking the long way to fix this is unfortunately kind of just.

  6. JoAnn,

    You don’t get it. the $5,400 a year your son and daughter-in-law pay mostly goes to cover a small % of people who consume the bulk of the care and medicine provided under the plan. Your son and daughter-in-law will only pay the $9,000 deductible if they actually get medical services and/or medication (*).

    Yes, the WellPoint CEO and others make millions, and it is sickening, but how much taxes do they pay to Uncle Sam and Uncle Mitch? Does your son/daughter-in-law own a home? If so, do you feel the same way about the CEO types who made millions while working for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, or do they get a pass for making millions because they were liberals?

    Your son and daughter-in-law are in the same boat as my wife and I. We get much cheaper insurance than them, but my employer wants to raise it, plus we have a $2,400 deductible. My employer says that 8% consume almost 70% of all payments made. Only 9% or so of the millions spent on drugs/medical care go to the administrator, which is WellPoint/Anthem. I don’t see why things would be any different in your son and daughter-in-laws case. Your son and daughter are basically paying WellPoint $540/year through their employer to negotiate cost. If they pay the deductible, they are paying for direct medical care, not WellPoint.

    These are the details no one wants to discuss. Toss out WellPoint, cut insurance overhead costs by 10%, let employees do their own shopping and price contract negotiations. Well, that won’t happen. So don’t worry, we all will end up on Medicaid/Medicare or maybe they will call it US Healthcare. Disposable income will tank and tank hard, as there will be a need for a massive tax hike to provide the same level of care that we get now here in the US.

    Folks want a Canadian like system, go for it. Here are the current tax rates in Canada, not the 50% I thought, but still high. The province taxes are used to provide some healthcare, others charge a monthly premium or I guess a combination.

    If the Canadian system was the Holy Grail of healthcare, there won’t be border crossings to obtain care. This will happen in the US. Watch for 1st class medical facilities to open up just on the other side of the Mexico border.

    I just worked the numbers. I would pay double the taxes under the Canadian system. Last year, I owed $10,564 to fed and state. This included the standard deduction for federal (married) and minimal or no state deductions. Under the Canadian system, if I lived in Alberta, we would have paid $21,010. I’m not sure if Canada offers a standard deduction, or any other deductions at the federal level. Still, I will be looking at roughly paying $800/month more in taxes if we get Canadian tax rates for healthcare. Wow. I really don’t see many people being able to afford homes, bills, cars, etc. if taxes go that high.

    In the end, we will have to have government healthcare. Government is viewed as the only entity that will be allowed to tell a 75 year old with terminal lung cancer they won’t get $100,000 for chemo to extend their life another year, if that. If a private company does this, they are labeled “evil” and “uncaring.” When government does it it, it is “protecting the common welfare of all.”

    Republican health care plan: Don’t get sick.
    Democrat health care plan: Pay higher taxes for universal healthcare, but don’t get too sick.

  7. Mike Pence immediately apologized. Still waiting for Andre Carson to apologize for saying that followers of the tea party want to see black people handing from trees. If conservatives have to apologize for making outrageous, untruthful statements as part of political hyperbole, so should liberals.

  8. Amen. You left out the routine barbs of “racist” and “domestic terrorist” because you don’t support policy you wouldn’t agree with if the President was green with polka-dot ears: Affordable Care Act, immigration law abandonment, ignoring industrial bankruptcy convention, investing more money in Solendrya than many states got……

    Pardon if I don’t hold my breath waiting for apologies from both sides, and particularly a mainstream media that would demand them.

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