In the wake of today's Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. Obamacare, my email box has been filled with emails that sport the words "my take" in the subject line. Of special interest: Roy Blunt's quickly rendered "take" on the decision (full text below the fold).
To take the silliest statement first, Blunt declares that the decision will lead to "greater uncertainty" for small business owners - in spite of the fact that the main source of indecision was rendered moot with today's ruling. Some folks are slow to pick up on the obvious - and if Blunt isn't, he's banking on the fact that his most likely supporters are.
Blunt's claim that the ACA will lead to higher federal spending has been dealt with ad nauseum. Almost every respectable authority has conceded that if properly implemented, the ACA has the potential to save money by tamping down health care costs. The most recent Congressional Budget Office analysis affirms that belief. Blunt's mindless repetition of this talking point doesn't really deserve a response - except that if unchallenged, it has the potential to continue to do harm.
One would be tempted to respond in the same vein to Blunt's main contention, that "Obamacare will lead to higher health care premiums." This assertion - particularly now that the mandate has been upheld - is pure fabrication and one is tempted to think that the odor it gives rise to in the current context is the reek of desperation. However, there are scenarios when Blunt's claim of higher premiums could be realized - but if that is the case, it will be only be because of the actions of Mr. Blunt and his GOP congressional colleagues.
Ed Kilgore points out that many of the ACA's provisions are dependent on congressional funding and that fact could allow the Republicans to wreak havoc:
...while there was a case to be made that you can't enact something as complicated and wide-ranging as ACA as part of the budget process, there is zero doubt it would be easy to disable it simply by denying funding for the subsidies, the Medicaid expansion, the exchanges, etc., etc. All of these actions are entirely legitimate in a reconciliation bill, which cannot be filibustered. And on top of everything else, as TPM's David Kurtz astutely observed today, the Supreme Court's definition of the mandate as a "tax" may well make the mandate itself germane to a reconciliation bill.
If the mandate were to be repealed via such an indirect strategy, the resulting mess could result in steeply higher premiums. That mess would, of course, be due to the actions of Blunt and pals, but I'm betting they'd get their right-wing echo-chamber fired up and the traditional media would, as it so often does, take its cues from the noisiest parties, and, in the popular mind, the braying of pols like Blunt would be vindicated. I imagine lots of GOPers, not just our Roy, are hoping that this will be the way it works. Of course, to quote Kilgore again:
The best strategy for maintaining ACA, of course, is to win the damn elections.
The three questions about the President's health care plan that have needed to be answered from day one are: Is it constitutional, is it a good idea, and can we afford it? The Court, in a 5-4 decision, answered the first question today. The American people now will decide if the President's health care takeover is the right thing to do and whether we can afford it.
This decision does not change the fact that ObamaCare will lead to higher health care premiums, increased federal spending, and greater uncertainty for small business owners nationwide. That's why Congress must repeal this deeply flawed law in its entirety and replace it with thoughtful, common-sense reforms that put patients and doctors in control of health care - not Washington bureaucrats.
I invite you to take a look at my video response to the Supreme Court's decision.
In 2010, Missourians overwhelmingly rejected the individual mandate and sent a clear signal to Washington that Americans oppose ObamaCare. Elections matter, and this decision underscores the fact that we need new leadership in the White House and the Senate.
As always, I encourage you to join the conversation online by visiting my Facebook and Twitter pages and to learn more on my website.
I also hope you'll take a moment to learn more about the common-sense health care solutions that I support.