The ObamaCare Decision: Student Voices
We asked your classmates for their opinions about the ObamaCare decision. Which Justice got it right? Check out their responses below, and add yours in the comments!
ADAM LUDEMANN, 2014
Adam is the President of the Federalist Society, but the views expressed here are his own. The Federalist Society is a student group whose purpose is to promote a respectful, thoughtful and engaging discourse on campus addressing issues of concern to libertarians, conservatives and the greater student body. They host series of discussions each year featuring topics such as healthcare reform, federalism and economic freedom. Adam encourages anyone interested in further discussion to check out their events on BLSConnect. The Federalist Society does not endorse particular policy positions.
I tend to agree with the Roberts opinion and Thomas, Scalia, et al…As a matter of cost reduction, I believe Congress could have better achieved its ends by reforming the tax code…and allowing the purchase of health care insurance… across state lines…
How does this decision affect you?
“As a paralegal at a large corporate firm before law school, I had great health insurance with broad coverage, low deductibles, and responsive customer service. As a law student over the age of 26, I currently have no real choice other than to participate in the BLS-sponsored insurance program, which features higher deductibles, low prescription drug coverage maximums, more restricted coverage, and terrible customer service. The benefit I receive per dollar of health care spending is clearly lower.”
What are your concerns about the practical implications this decision has on health law?
“I believe that many of these differences, and many of the problems with our healthcare system, ultimately arise from employer tax preferences which came about in the context of wage controls during the Second World War. These tax policies have distorted the healthcare market, linking health insurance to employers in a way which makes healthcare arbitrarily more expensive for the unemployed, students and those who are self-employed.”
As a matter of cost reduction, I believe Congress could have better achieved its ends by reforming the tax code to address these problems and allowing the purchase of health care insurance, like many other insurance products, across state lines, allowing for greater customer choice, more efficient distribution of healthcare services, and broader risk pools for those with preexisting conditions.”
So, which Justice got it right?
“I don’t pretend to be familiar with the law relating to the tax/penalty distinction, although I tend to agree with the Roberts opinion and Thomas, Scalia, et al. on the limitations the decision places on the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause and the Federal government’s conditional spending power vis-à-vis the States.
“I wholeheartedly agree with the ACA’s goal of ensuring coverage for pre-existing conditions and coverage for those who are economically disadvantaged. However, I think that lowering costs as described above in connection with a tax refund or voucher-based system would lead to a cleaner, more progressive redistribution of health care resources without the market inefficiencies and cross-subsidies associated with a mandate and regulated approach.”
VERONICA JACKSON, 2014
Veronica is the Co-Chair of the Health Law and Policy Association (HLPA) and the Chair of Girls on the Run BLS pro-bono (GOTR). HLPA is a student-run organization that brings together students interested in a variety of Health Law fields to discuss today’s health care issues and to unite students and health law professionals with similar interests. GOTR is a new pro-bono program at BLS, bringing positive role models to an underserved elementary school in New York City. BLS coaches help to teach life skills through dynamic, conversation-based lessons and running games.
Overall I’m extremely pleased with the outcome of this case…My biggest hesitation with the law is how comprehensive the lowest ranked plans offered in Exchanges will be, and if they will actually lead to an increase in primary care services.
How does this decision affect you?
“I currently have health insurance, but will be losing it when I turn 26 in March and will likely enroll in the BLS offered plan.
Personally, this decision does not have that much of an impact on me. My parent’s health insurance has allowed young adults (up to age 26) to stay on their plan for years, so a negative outcome would not have had an effect on me as of yet. I also cannot foresee myself ever choosing not to have health insurance so the mandate would not really be mandating me to do anything I did not want to do anyways. I am concerned that the plans that I may be able to afford after law school will not be comprehensive enough, but the New York Exchange has yet to release all of its guidelines.”
Which Justice got it right?
“I agree most with Justice Ginsburg’s opinion in that the ACA would have been constitutional under the Commerce Clause. I agree with the Administration’s position that health care is a very unique market in that virtually everyone will enter it at some point in their lifetime. Because of this, I feel that Congress did have the power to enact this law under the Commerce Clause. One of my favorite quotes in her opinion sums it up nicely: ‘Why should the Chief Justice strive so mightily to hem in Congress’ capacity to meet the new problems arising constantly in our ever developing modern economy? I find no satisfying response to that question in his opinion.’”
“Overall I’m extremely pleased with the outcome of this case. I’m a proponent of a single-payer system or a two-tiered system (such as in Germany), but in the interest of being realistic, I know that neither system is in our immediate future. So for now, I support the ACA. Decreasing emergency room use and increasing preventative care are crucial to decreasing our nation’s healthcare costs, and these two goals are made possible in the ACA by giving more Americans access to health insurance.
My biggest hesitation with the law is how comprehensive the lowest ranked plans offered in Exchanges will be, and if they will actually lead to an increase in primary care services. In order to avoid the penalty, many Americans may enroll in plans that still make health care too costly to obtain. This would cause those enrollees to waste money on their premiums each month while still not to receiving health care. The standards will be set by various exchanges, but if Massachusetts is any indication, a new class of “under-insured” may emerge. I am also concerned with how the insurance market could play out 10-15 years from now. There is often very little oversight for these private health plans, and they could become very powerful in years to come. As an intern at the Medicare Rights Center, I have been able to see first-hand how the policy set by regulation committees can often have little to no effect in the implementation and regulating of a plans day-to-day operations and services. Suggestions to committees are for one reason or another often ignored or glossed over when passed onto plans, giving plans too much power and not enough supervision. Hopefully stronger guidance would be built into this system.”
*Editor’s note: We hope you join the discussion but please keep your comments respectful.