Show Down: The Supreme Court and the Affordable Care Act

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments concerning the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The worst thing that could happen would be for the justices to rule in favor of forcing American citizens to purchase health care based on the interstate commerce portion of the Constitution, as is the case in the 2,700 page, one trillion dollar piece of legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

That commerce clause has been utilized by politicians in an ever-widening sphere to regulate virtually anything.

It does not take an expert in constitutional law to know, without doubt, that forcing citizens to purchase health care with interstate commerce as the vehicle to do so is not only just plain wrong, it is illegal.

If this health care law is not repealed, the end result is that Capitol Hill, those citizens who are bound by oath to serve America’s best interests, have, simply stated, stripped away another right of freedom from Main Street USA.

The freedom to make independent decisions.

Any person should question why, if this legislation is such a good universal solution to health care, members of Congress are exempt from taking part. That our esteemed officials have so elected to distance themselves from something that is supposed to be so very good for everybody makes one wonder why they would do such.

That they can do this, as well as mandate retirement ages for the private sector but not themselves, among other inequities, is just another reason there should be a 28th Amendment:

Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.

On another health care related note, it is interesting that White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer stated that a positive aspect of the bill is that insurance companies “have to spend more of your premiums on health care instead of advertising and bonuses,” yet Congress and the White House allow drug companies to saturate the media with myriad ads promoting drugs that can cause “suicidal thoughts or actions” and “sudden unexpected death.”

And, it is a certainty that politicians accept all manner of financial support for their campaigns from insurance companies, executives and employees.

Such is hypocrisy in politics.

Let us hope the Supreme Court is able to rise above politics in their decision regarding the atrocious Affordable Care Act.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

The Affordable Care Act & The Constitution

The stage is set for the Supreme Court to become involved, whether they wish to or not, in the decision of whether or not forcing citizens of Main Street USA to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional.

While there certainly is debate centered around other portions of the incredibly massive piece of porked-out legislation, the rulings of two Federal judges that Congress has overstepped its authority by relying upon the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution (while two others ruled the opposite) all but guarantees the highest court’s involvement.

Simply put, the Commerce Clause (Article I) grants Congress the power to “…regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.”

Throughout the decades the Supreme Court has used that particular clause very very broadly, including rulings on Depression-era farm quotas as well as bans on racial discrimination in the 1960s.

This Main Streeter finds it extremely difficult to fathom exactly how racial discrimination fits into the Commerce Clause. Whether one is Democrat, Republican or Independent, how could it be that human beings are considered as commerce?

In reality, the court used this clause because a company that was discriminating earned a majority of it’s revenue through interstate commerce. That still seems a stretch when, in fact, the country was founded in the belief that all people are created equal. Consider that the 14th Amendement (1868) guarantees equal protection under the law and racial discrimination would quality as something which is not equal. It seems, therefore, that the 14th Amendment offers a quite superior legal standing to ban racial discrimination.

In an attempt to determine what may or may not have been included in the thoughts and intentions of our Founding Fathers regarding the Commerce Clause, the reference used was the American Dictionary of the English Language, by Noah Webster, 1828.

It was thought that perhaps by using a dictionary from that time period there could be some light shed on the issue at hand today (and perhaps even some of those earlier court decisions that do not quite seem to fit).

The definition of Commerce is: “In a general sense, an interchange or mutual change of goods, wares, productions, or property of any kind, between nations or individuals, either by barter, or by purchase and sale; trade; traffick.” It further defines inland commerce as: “…the trade of commodities between citizens of the same nation.”

Turning a page, the definition of Commodity is: “…anything that is useful, but particularly in commerce, including everything movable that is bought and sold, goods, wares, merchandise, produce of land and manufactures. Unless perhaps animals may be excepted, the word includes all the movables which are objects of commerce.”

Based upon the above definitions, which were used by those responsible for writing and implementing the Constitution it seems clear that mandating that a citizen of the United States purchase health insurance through the vehicle known as the Affordable Care Act is, indeed, unconstitutional.

It really is not even debatable.

That, coupled with the actual wording of the Article in question (“regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes”), indicates that Article I gives absolutely NO power to Congress to force citizens (i.e., individuals) to purchase anything.

Undoubtedly someone will be called upon, when all is said and done and attorneys for both sides have voiced their last convincing words, to write a decision. And that document will more than likely be scores and scores of pages, when, in fact, it boils down to just a couple.

And, as a last thought, allowing Capitol Hill to mandate what an individual must purchase opens the door for future edicts by those elected representatives who are supposed to be serving the interests of Americans, not dictating them.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

Frivolous Lawsuits (ie Tort Reform)

The more I ponder President Obama’s words at yesterday’s Health Care Summit regarding frivolous lawsuit legislation being handed over to the states, the more it makes less sense to me.

Truth be told, zero sense.

Especially if one of the driving forces behind effective national healthcare reform is to lower costs to Main Street USA.

The insurance business is one of the riskiest businesses around.

Think about it. A company takes what is, in reality, a small amount of money from each of many people and ends up paying out money to cover whatever is insured.

In the health field, that particular cost is incredibly compounded by frivolous lawsuits and tort awards that are way out of line.

In order to protect themselves, and stay in business, insurance companies charge higher premiums.

There are major flaws with trying to pawn this area off to the states.

In the first place, consider the fact that not every state may enact any legislation at all. And, because it is being left up to the states, the laws themselves will vary (probably greatly) and provide different levels of protection.

Unless, of course, it is mandated that all states enact legislation. And, if that ends up being the case, why not do it at the national level?

Possibly the biggest factor, however, is that if a plaintiff does not like the award received in their judgment, even if it was at the uppermost limit a state allowed, it would be appealed. First to the Appellate Court, the the State Supreme Court and, ultimately, to the US Supreme Court, where a decision would be made.

And that decision would affect all states.

Thus, all that would be accomplished by pushing this particular area of responsibility and legislation to the states is clogging the courts with appeals that eventually end up in our highest court in the land for a decision.

As a note, that would, of course, be after each state spent countless hours, days, weeks – i.e., taxpayer dollars – in order to craft and pass legislation. Yet, another cost for Main Street USA to carry.

Therefore, all of this means, in the end, that there would be more burdensome costs for the good ole middle class. (And this is a hidden cost, not covered in either the House or Senate healthcare reform legislation.)

Another item to consider is that many elected (and appointed) representatives on Capitol Hill totally vilify the insurance companies as greedy, making too much money off of the middle class, etc., etc.

Think about this for a minute…how much money does an attorney make who wins a frivolous lawsuit or a suit that awards monetary damages in the hundreds of millions to someone?

A bundle, to be sure.

As an example, perhaps the attorney is working on a 30 or 40 percent retainer and the award comes in at $100 million. The plaintiff gets $60 or $70 million and the attorney walks away with a cool $30 or $40 million.

The lawyer will defend this and speak of all the time and costs involved that he/she must pay out of their portion of the settlement. But how many of those attorneys have to worry about health insurance, making their mortgage payment, putting food on the table? How many of them live in million-dollar-plus homes and drive cars that the vast majority of Main Street USA can only dream about?

It is still this Main Streeter’s opinion that this issue is being relegated to the states because attorneys and law firms are some of the biggest contributors to campaigns and spend millions of dollars lobbying.

Thus, by not tackling Tort Reform at the Federal level our elected public servants are being incredibly irresponsible in this area.

America does not need bigger, expanding government. America needs fair and equitable government representing the best interests of the People.

For Healthcare Reform, that starts with Tort Reform – putting an end to frivolous lawsuits and outlandish settlements – at the Federal, not State, level. And not attempting to rid the country of insurance companies so that we end up with socialized medicine.

If that happens, what is next? Uncle Sam’s Gas Stations?

Over For Now.

Main Street One