Greg Harris: On Anticipating the GOP’s Response to the Supreme Court

Congress’s use of the Taxing Clause to encourage buying something is . . . not new. Tax incentives already promote, for example, purchasing homes and professional educations. See 26 U. S. C. §§163(h), 25A. Sustaining the mandate as a tax depends only on whether Congress has properly exercised its taxing power to encourage purchasing health insurance, not whether it can. Upholding the individual mandate under the Taxing Clause thus does not recognize any new federal power. It determines that Congress has used an existing one.” –Chief Justice John Roberts

The Supreme Court earlier today upheld “Obamacare.” The majority opinion, drafted by Chief Justice Roberts, essentially recognized that taxation to influence consumer behavior in this country is nothing new. Republican leadership is already vowing to kill it.  I’m curious to know what provisions of insurance reform they will kill first . .

The first provisions include barring insurers from discriminating against children with pre-existing conditions, allowing parents to opt to keep their own children covered on their plans until they turn 26, and fixing the Medicare reimbursement gap (the “doughnut hole”) that costs seniors several hundred dollars each year. Will the GOP fight to continue medical discrimination against children? Will they kill legislation to reimburse seniors? Will they stop parents from keeping their children covered until age 26?

The law has also required states to create high-risk pools that cover individuals denied private insurance due to pre-existing conditions.  Will they now ask the adult with multiple sclerosis to give up that coverage?

Moving forward, health insurance reform will establish insurance exchanges and purchasing cooperatives where insurers that currently enjoy monopolies over entire regions will face competition from other private insurers. Will the GOP kill private sector competition in favor of retaining insurance monopolies? Will they prevent small business and the self-employed from entering into purchasing cooperatives so they can enjoy the discounted coverage that results from economies of scale?

The GOP laments the effects of Obamacare (modeled after RomneyCare) on the economy, especially small business.  But the only small businesses impacted by healthcare legislation are those that employ over 50 people.  About 96% of all small businesses do not employ over 50 people, and so will not be effected.  As for those that do employ over 50 people, most of them already provide healthcare.  They will now be getting tax credits to make their coverage of employees far more affordable.  Will they take these small business tax credits away?

So in the coming days, I look forward to hearing from GOP leadership, specifically, whose health care will you be killing?

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