Skip to comments.ObamaCare's Unenforceable Linchpin
Posted on 07/18/2012 10:26:17 AM PDT by Kaslin
Last week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare. It was the 33rd such vote taken by the House and, since Democrats control the Senate, no more likely to be successful than the first 32.
The day before the vote, however, the House Ways and Means Committee heard testimony that highlighted another, more promising way to override the health care law: Americans can refuse to comply with its command that they obtain government-approved medical coverage, which the Supreme Court has deemed a mere suggestion even though it is essential to the legislation's goals. Furthermore, if ObamaCare objectors take a simple precaution, they can opt out without paying the prescribed penalty.
ObamaCare requires insurers to take all comers and charge them the same rates, regardless of health. Those rules create two problems that reinforce each other: They raise premiums, and they encourage people to delay buying medical coverage until they're sick.
As more healthy people go without insurance, rates rise further to make up the difference, which encourages more people to go without insurance, which increases rates further still. To avoid such a "death spiral," ObamaCare commanded young, healthy people to "maintain minimum essential coverage" as defined by the government, thereby subsidizing the medical expenses of older, sicker people.
But in upholding this mandate last month, the Supreme Court said it could not be justified under the Commerce Clause, instead redefining it as an exercise of the tax power. It is perfectly legal to go without the health insurance that Congress thinks you should have, the Court said, as long as you pay the "tax" imposed on people who reject the government's recommendation. That interpretation creates new challenges for ObamaCare.
"For most Americans," the Court observed, "the amount due will be far less than the price of insurance." Someone earning $50,000 a year, for instance, would be subject to a penalty of about $1,000 in 2016, when the tax takes full effect. A 2011 eHealth study found the average price for an individual policy was $2,200, a number that's bound to rise under ObamaCare's minimum coverage requirements, which ban no-frills, high-deductible health plans. As the Court noted, "It may often be a reasonable financial decision to make the payment rather than purchase insurance."
Even paying the penalty is effectively optional, because Congress, for political reasons, barred the Internal Revenue Service from using its most effective tools -- liens, forfeiture and prosecution -- to collect it. As The Associated Press recently explained, the IRS, confronted by uninsured taxpayers who refuse to pay the penalty, must instead resort to "scary letters and threats to withhold tax refunds."
How effective will those letters be once taxpayers realize the threats are empty? They can even avoid having the money taken out of their refunds by adjusting their withholding or estimated tax payments so that they come out even (or owe a little) at the end of the year. In practice, no refund means no penalty.
After ObamaCare was enacted in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office projected that some 4 million Americans would choose to pay a penalty in 2016 rather than comply with the health insurance mandate. Testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee last week, Steven G. Bradbury, who headed the White House Office of Legal Counsel under George W. Bush, argued that number "will be considerably greater" once people understand they have no legal obligation to buy coverage. In fact, since the penalty is essentially unenforceable, it is possible that it won't produce any revenue to speak of, which would make it an odd tax indeed.
Bradbury suggested that Congress might react to such widespread disobedience, which could make ObamaCare financially unsustainable, by increasing the penalty and authorizing the IRS to use more-intimidating tools. But that would reveal the coercive nature of the "minimum essential coverage" provision and the implausibility of viewing it as anything other than an unconstitutional order.
As has been states numerous times......you can buy insurance in the ambulance on the way to the emergency room.
Intentionally designed to fail, as a stepping stone to 100% government-run Single Payer System.
Sadly, I am afraid you have that right....Obama, and all on the far left, the real goal IS single payer.
But then, by 2016 Congress may have more Conservatives, and possibly both houses may have Republican majorities, they could further hobble the IRS and defund those agencies that would use the Obamacare hammer.
We will have to wait till 2016 to find out.
I thought thay Obamacare gave the feds complete access to your bank accounts. if so, what will keep them from just drawing from your account to enforce this law?
And drop it once you get out of the hospital
The government lost a 1950's case to force the Amish to pay into social security because the attorney for the Amish proved that it was an actual tenent of their faith to care for the aged within the community.
The illegal lobby could not make such an argument since they are always the first in line for health care paid for by somebody else.
“what will keep them from just drawing from your account to enforce this law?”
In reality, Congress stripped IRS of most of its normal enforcement powers, hence collecting the Obamacare tax will be a challenge.
>>Even paying the penalty is effectively optional, because Congress, for political reasons, barred the Internal Revenue Service from using its most effective tools — liens, forfeiture and prosecution — to collect it.<<
If you know any young physicians, tell them to start planning a boutique medical facility in the Caribbean, and easy plane ride from Florida. I’m sure a lot of wealthy (and desperate middle class) folks will be willing patrons once the US heathcare system looks like Britains.
The govt can only control what happens in the US.
That’s why the boutiques will be offshore.
Rush has talked about this for months.
As a high percentage of our good doctors retire and are replaced with 3rd world “talent” the decline will be obvious.
Rich people will be looking for something better.
Very similar to Canadians coming to the US to take advantage of our (currently) high quality medical care.
It will be a great opportunity for enterprising doctors and administrators.
“If you know any young physicians, tell them to start planning a boutique medical facility in the Caribbean, and easy plane ride from Florida. Im sure a lot of wealthy (and desperate middle class) folks will be willing patrons once the US heathcare system looks like Britains.
My theory has always been that if the U.S. Democratic Communist Party manages to destroy the effectiveness of U.S. medical system that we’ll see foreign medical insurance polices that provide comprehensive, turnkey coverage at mega-medical complexes that will be built in the Caribbean, including round-trip air fare, hotel stays, meals, you name it. Given the international nature of the the Internet, I don’t see how the Feds could effectively prevent U.S. citizens from purchasing such policies, particularly if such polices are couched as simply buying vacation time-shares in the Carribean that just happen to include any medical care you need while you are there.