RAPID REACTION: JOHN ROBERTS' EXCELLENT ADVENTURE

Posted in Quick Hits on June 29th, 2012 by Ed

NPF is cancelled for reasons that should be obvious.

I have a lot to say about the Supreme Court decision that handed a narrow victory to the proponents of the Affordable Care Act, and a potentially epic rant on it is already brewing for Monday. Nonetheless, while it is still fresh on everyone's mind let's take a quick whack at it. A few things:

1. My insurance provider sent out an email to every member this afternoon noting, and I'm paraphrasing only slightly here, "We know that you've heard a ton about the health care law and the Supreme Court today, and we'd like to remind you that absolutely nothing has changed about your coverage." That is an important point that is rapidly getting lost in the deluge of words in your email inbox and on your social networking sites. For the overwhelming majority of us, nothing is different. All this law really did from day one is create some new rules for insurance companies and require individuals to obtain coverage (with numerous exceptions, subsidies, and so on). One of my friends earnestly emailed me and asked if health care was free now. Lots of right wingers appear to believe that government-run medicine is now a reality. Many people are going to be genuinely surprised to wake up and find out that nothing really happened.

2. That "I have no idea what I'm talking about, but goddammit am I angry" is a common theme among your friends and family right now was predictable, but I am stunned at the number of people who appear to have no earthly idea what "single payer" means. Apparently it is somewhat commonly believed that single payer means that each individual is responsible for his or her own healthcare costs. I don't know whether to laugh or cry, so I do both.

3. Two things about John Roberts and his mysterious motives:

First, the text of the dissent refers to Ginsburg's concurrence as "the dissent" several times. Unless that's some sort of bizarre typo or Freudian slip, I'm pretty sure Kennedy's dissent was written with the understanding that it was the majority. In fact, there are several clues suggesting that Roberts not only switched his vote unexpectedly but did so very late in the game…as in, nearly at the last second.

Second, one of the common criticisms of Roberts upon his appointment was that he is a tool of the healthcare industry. I don't see his decision as pro-ACA or pro-government or pro-Congress so much as it is pro-insurance. It's worth keeping in mind over all the celebrating that the underlying law is a pretty lame excuse for healthcare "reform". While it contains a lot of provisions that will help a lot of people, its primary purpose is to funnel billions of dollars into the insurance industry's coffers. That the individual mandate survived is a splash of perfume on the reality that the individual mandate was and is a pretty stupid way to attempt to achieve near-universal access to healthcare.

That's all for now. More next week, possibly up to and beyond the point at which you will be sick of hearing about it.