Thursday, June 28, 2012

On Today's Health Care Decision

I was visiting my brother yesterday, and he and my dad asked me which way I thought the Supreme Court would decide on the question of whether or not the Affordable Care Act passes Constitutional muster. I laid out what the three options were (preserving the entire law, repealing the entire law, repealing part of the law), and made clear that I had no particular insight on the matter. However, I did mention the feeling in my gut that, if it absolutely came down to it, John Roberts would probably vote to preserve the law. Weird how that's exactly what ended up happening.

Again, I don't profess any special knowledge of the court's workings beyond what the talking head brigade offers, but it struck me that completely voiding legislation that gives substantial relief to so many (which is precisely what the conservatives on the court wantedwould forever be a legacy of "The Roberts Court," and he had to have an awareness of that on some level. I don't know if that's what ultimately compelled the Chief Justice to side with the court's liberal wing in today's 5-4 decision, but the result is the same. The Affordable Care Act stands -- for now.

The right's fight to repeal "ObamaCare" will go on, as we all expected it would, but the longer the law is in effect, and the longer its benefits become apparent to average people, the harder it will be for those who oppose it on purely partisan grounds to make a good faith argument against it. I'm reminded of former Bush speechwriter David Frum's proclamation in 2010 shortly after its passage: "No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed." I thought he was right then, and after today's court decision I'm even more convinced of that.

As someone who has affordable insurance today as a direct result of this health care law, it just baffles the heck out of me that people can be so opposed to something that's beneficial to so many, with many couching their argument in the wibbly-wobbly notion of "Freedom!" as if freedom from medical costs isn't just as valid an expression of that concept. I think Josh Marshall summed it up the best in a post from earlier this morning when he said that, more than anything, this law has reframed the health care conversation in this country for now and forever, not as a privilege but a right, and that matters.

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