Footprints in Desert Sand wallpaper – On second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act benefits of reform go unrecognized and faces flimsy legal challenges

Footprints in Desert Sand wallpaper

 

With the help SCOTUS rulings that bestow person-hood on corporations, conservatives at the state level have been trying – with some success to create a bizarre legal reality. One in which a clump of cells and corporations are persons with the same Constitutionally guaranteed rights as an individual citizen, yet make women three-fifths a person ( It’s fine if an individual carrying those cells wants to think of them as human, but that is different from imposing that legal view on everyone). How did we get to this point. making person-hood began at conception is bound for legal challenges. Many Democrats in Congress would like to see a bill that would once and for all spell out the fact that corporations are not people and such interpretations of the Constitution are an example of conservative judicial activism. In short the federal courts are important. When conservatives accuse non-conservative judges of being judicial activists who engage in overreach by bypassing the will of legislators, that is close to pure projection. Combined with call the ref. Conservatives decided decades ago to get out in front of these judicial versus legislation issues decades ago – mostly as a reaction to New Deal legislation. probably the most well-known piece of judicial activism coming out of the conservative Robert’s SCOTUS is Citizens United. On the other hand the Robert’s court is not immune to legal precedent as they showed in their ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld where the court found the Bush administration did not have authority to set up particular military commissions without congressional authorization, because they did not comply with the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention. So in trying to guess how the SCOTUS will rule on the Affordable care Act ( health care reform, ObamaRomneycare) is tricky. As the Citizens decision showed, the conservatives on the court can be blatantly political, It’s Not About the Law, Stupid Forget precedent. Ignore Scalia’s musings. Next week’s health care argument before the Supreme Court is all about optics, politics, and public opinion.

And the fact that the Obama administration rushed the case to the Supreme Court in an election year is all the evidence you need to understand that they remain confident in their prospects. The law is a completely valid exercise of Congress’ Commerce Clause power, and all the conservative longing for the good old days of the pre-New Deal courts won’t put us back in those days as if by magic. Nor does it amount to much of an argument.

So that brings us to the really interesting question: Will the Court’s five conservatives strike it down regardless? That’s what we’re really talking about next week and that has almost nothing to do with law and everything to do with optics, politics, and public opinion. That means that Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the Raich medicinal marijuana case, and Chief Justice John Roberts’ and Anthony Kennedy’s opinions in Comstock only get us so far. Despite the fact that reading the entrails of those opinions suggest that they’d contribute to an easy fifth, sixth, and seventh vote to uphold the individual mandate as a legitimate exercise of Congressional power, the real question isn’t whether those Justices will be bound by 70 years of precedent or their own prior writings on federal power. The only question is whether they will ignore it all to deprive the Obama of one of his signature accomplishments.

Professor Randy Barnett, the intellectual power behind the entire health care challenge, wrote recently that Justice Scalia could break from his previous opinions—freeing him to strike down the Affordable Care Act—“without breaking a sweat.” I suspect that’s right.

If that’s true, we should stop fussing about old precedents. These old milestones of jurisprudence aren’t what will give Scalia pause. What matters is whether the five conservative justices are so intent in striking down Obama’shealthcare law that they would risk a chilly and divisive 5-4 dip back into the waters of Bush v. Gore and Citizens United.

[  ]…Given that line up of future cases, the five conservatives may want to keep their powder dry for now. I think they will. Poll released this week by the American Bar Association agrees, saying that most courtwatchers (85 percent) believe Obamacare will survive. And why is that? Not just the fact that—as I’ve said at the outset—the law is constitutional, well within the boundaries of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority. It’s because for the court to strike it down, the justices would have to pick a fight that wasn’t theirs in the first place.

One of the very specific reason that the ACA may get a pass from the SCOTUS that Dahlia Lithwick does not mention is Medicare. Sure it fine for Congressional conservatives to toss around gutting Medicare, making it into a kind of partial allowance for medical for 48 million Americans. The conservative base that thinks sharing your dessert is socialism hate Medicare. They droll over the graphs which show the growing costs of Medicare – when what we’re really talking about is the health care industry, which unlike most of the free market is resistant to cost containment. Do the conservatives on the court really want to undo Medicare? Because if they vote down the ACA they will have once again – as they did in Citizens – ignore legal precedent and wonder if they want to leave a conservative legal legacy which threw 48 million Americans into the financial and medical abyss. If Medicare Is OK, Obamacare Should Be Too

So why is the Affordable Care Act such an unconscionable infringement of liberty, while those two other, more revered programs are not? Some critics have suggested the Affordable Care Act is fundamentally unfair, because it effectively requires relatively healthy people to subsidize relatively unhealthy people. But that is true of Medicare and Social Security, too. The whole point of any social insurance is to ameliorate the impact of sheer chance on life—whether it’s being born with the wrong genes, growing up in the wrong neighborhood, or coming into contact with the wrong physical threats. Social insurance programs redistribute funds from the lucky to the unlucky, on the very sensible theory that any one of us could end up unlucky (and, at one point or another in our lives, probably will).(emphasis mine)

A truer distinction is that Medicare and Social Security are real government programs: The bureaucracies that run Medicare and Social Security actually distribute the benefits, in the form of checks or payments to health care providers. The Affordable Care Act is a more privatized system, in which private insurance companies are the direct financiers of benefits for many people. But even that distinction is blurrier than it might seem. Medicare has long offered beneficiaries the option of enrolling in private insurance plans, rather than the government-run program. And today about a quarter of all beneficiaries do just that. Those companies operate under close government supervision and regulation, it’s true. But so will the companies offering insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Probably will is an understatement. Unless you’re run over by a bus or some similar tragedy everyone will have to have health care eventually. Many liberals and progressives do not like mandates. I think their arguments tend to be more honest and hinge on the connection between individual civil liberties and government compulsion. That is a good point. Though in the real world, beyond political theory, none of us live in a bubble – as much as conservatives try to and libertarians dream. Our circumstances affect others and combined all those individuals with their need for health care affects society and the economy. While the riled up conservative base cheers at a Republicans debate for someone without health insurance to die, when millions of Americans start to die alone in their apartments or ally ways, when the lines to hospital emergency rooms stretch down the block. That will be picture on the poster defining what conservatism did to grandpa and those disabled children. Charities and private donations will pick up the slack? I’ve been hearing that looniness for years. Funny how American charitable organizations, corporations and private individuals have not managed to make much of a dent in our health care needs. Certainly nothing is stopping the Koch brothers or the parade of conservative sugar daddies and think tanks from starting a private tax-deductible organization that will – just for starters take care of those on Medicare. They could start even smaller and take care of the 20% gap in costs that Medicare recipients have to pay for out-of-pocket or buy supplemental insurance for.

Former James O’Keefe ‘Accomplice’ Reveals ‘Barn Incident’ And Harassment Complaint

Last week, we reported that Nadia Naffe, self-described “accomplice” to conservative activist James O’Keefe , had begun publishing a multi-part tell-all series of posts to her blog. Thursday morning, Naffe published the second part, which details her version of the events that led her to file a criminal harassment complaint against O’Keefe in November, and which includes documents related to a sexual harassment settlement between O’Keefe and “CNN Sex Boat Caper” whistleblower Izzy Santa. O’Keefe filed suit against Naffe on Wednesday to obtain an injunction against publication of those documents, and of emails that O’Keefe claims she stole from his computer.

Despite O’Keefe’s history he is part of the team/ crowd/ whatever, that still manages all the Breitbart Big sites. One of Brietbart’s legacy was to take the any lie is fine, any smear that is remotely plausible, any dirty trick culture of conservatism and add some steroids.

The Mittens Etch-a-Sketch Disaster is interesting, but let’s not forget about the deeply weird wing of conservatism that is keeping Santorum in the race. Rick Santorum: ‘The Issue In This Race Is Not The Economy’

“The issue in this race is not the economy,” he said.

His statement was part of a longer monologue about why Obama’s health care overhaul is a symbol of government overreach, and that Americans’ freedoms are eroding.

“The reason the economy is an issue in this race is because we have a government that is oppressing its people and taking away their freedom, and the economy is suffering as a result,” Santorum said.

Conservatives are always standing up for freedom – like the freedom to become financially ruined by bad health and health care costs. The freedom for your family to have no hope. The freedom to die and to paraphrase Scrooge, decrease the surplus population. The freedom for working class Americans to have the wealth they create redistributed to the top 10%. This is what Santorum thinks is a terrible injustice on the 2nd anniversary of Obamacare, Benefits of health care reform haven’t been fully recognized

While much of the important changes of the ACA — including the insurance exchange, premium assistance for individuals and Medicaid expansion — won’t go into effect until 2014, we now have two years of data to assess the impact of the parts of the reform that have already been implemented. Here is what we know today about the beneficial impact of the ACA.

Last year about 86 million Americans took advantage of the new law’s prevention benefits — no deductibles or co-payments — on procedures such as mammograms, bone mass measurements, PAP tests, pediatric visits, cancer screenings, immunizations and colonoscopies.

Approximately 3.6 million seniors on Medicare saved $2.1 billion on their medicine last year and premiums on Medicare Advantage policies have fallen by 7 percent this year.

Over 2.5 million more young adults up to 26 years of age are now covered under their parents’ health insurance thus reducing premiums and dramatically lowering the number of uninsured in this age bracket.

Approximately 7 million low-income children, whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to purchase health insurance on their own, will continue to be eligible for the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through Sept. 30, 2019. CHIP provides these children with affordable, comprehensive, high-quality health coverage.

Tens of thousands of Americans who were previously uninsured because of medical conditions now have affordable health insurance through the Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plans administrated by the states or federal government.

Hundreds of thousands of businesses with less than 25 employees have reduced their health care costs due to the small business health insurance tax credits.

Tens of thousands of Americans each year are not having their health insurance policies cancelled because they have reached previously allowed lifetime limits.

All these benefits of the Affordable Care Act were accomplished with little impact on health care cost. According to a recent report by Medicare actuaries, all health care spending increased by 3.9 percent in 2010 (latest data available) with only 0.1 percent a result of the ACA.

Yet a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 14 percent of Americans understand that they have benefited from the ACA while about 66 percent said that the law hasn’t affected them and 21 percent claimed that the ACA has had a negative effect on them.

Obviously there is a disconnect between how the ACA has benefited the public and perception. There are two explanations for this.

First, the ACA benefits are not being attributed to the law. There is no note accompanying the receiving of the benefits that gives credit to the ACA, something supporters should have required in the law.

Second, opponents of the ACA have been loud and relentless with misinformation and disparaging commenting. There is no other explanation for 21 percent believing that they have been harmed.

The ACA continues to roll out with a few bumps in the road. But in spite of the critics, the benefits of this historic and vital health care reform will continue to grow.

Frank Knapp is president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. Sue Berkowitz is director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

Conservatives think corporations are people. Conservatives think women are not people. Conservatives think that legislation which was long past due that has saved lives and money is tyranny. In other words there is not much difference between how conservatives see the world and a 17th century mythic with brain damage.

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