by Bob Bennett
SCOTUS heard oral arguments Wednesday on King v. Burwell, which challenges the legality of federal subsidies given to lower-income taxpayers in 34 states that refused to set up exchanges. This was a clear violation of the Affordable Care Act, which says subsidies are available to people whose plans “were enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State…”
Once again, a dictum from the Executive Branch rewrote law. If the IRS regulation is invalidated by the Court, millions of people could find their premiums are no longer affordable.
There is a full-court press on, to frighten SCOTUS about the consequences of invalidating the regulation.
HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell wrote to Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, on Tuesday: “We know of no administration actions that could, and therefore we have no plans that would, undo the massive damage to our health care system that would be caused by an adverse decision.”
Legal scholar Professor Turley remarked: “The timing of the letter is rather obvious and the question is whether such heavy-handed moves could backfire. It seems pretty obvious who the letter is really directed toward and Roberts may feel like he is being played as a chump.”
Last time the court reviewed the law, they did play Roberts as a chump, using the same tactics.
By the way: Burwell’s statement concedes something apparently unnoticed: Why couldn’t Obama just issue another directive? Her letter admits doing so would be illegal, as were the IRS regulation and all his unilateral changes to the law.
Of course, the so-called Press is pitching in to help intimidate SCOTUS. From Newsbusters:
“Starting with NBC Nightly News’s coverage, interim anchor Lester Holt declared near the top of the show: ‘Death spiral, that’s what could happen to Obamacare. Tonight, a warning at the Supreme Court with health care coverage for millions hanging in the balance.’”
ABC News senior national correspondent Jim Avila was quoted as saying: “It’s an effort to kill Obamacare, leaving 7.5 million Americans without health insurance.”
Roberts may not be the only worrier. “Death spiral” was the very term used by Justice Kennedy in oral arguments that day, while questioning the attorney for the plaintiffs. Justice Scalia cut in to remind him of his duty in this Socratic exchange:
JUSTICE SCALIA: Mr. Carvin, what would the consequence of unconstitutionality be?
Very often you have an ambiguous provision, could be interpreted one way or another way. If interpreting it one way is unconstitutional, you interpret it the other way.
- CARVIN: Correct.
JUSTICE SCALIA: But do we have any case which says that when there is a clear provision, if it is unconstitutional, we can rewrite it?
- CARVIN: And that and that …
JUSTICE SCALIA: Is there any case we have that says that?
- CARVIN: No, Your Honor. And that was really my point.
But the consequences—which could and should be dealt with by Congress—are minor indeed, compared to the consequences if Obamacare is upheld. This year, many millions will lose their employer-sponsored plans, whose cancellation was illegally deferred by Obama until after the midterm elections. Fox News reported:
“Almost 80 million people with employer health plans could find their coverage canceled because they are not compliant with Obamacare, several experts predicted.” [Emphasis mine.]
Isn’t SCOTUS worried about that consequence?
Republicans must, at long last, tell the public what will come to pass if Obamacare is allowed to stand. As this writer previously reported, Obamacare is intended to morph into single-payer health care like that in Great Britain, where the government pays for and provides all health care.
Unprecedented Damage to Our Economy
The true cost of a single-payer system in America has been underestimated and unreported. That cost can be extrapolated from the UK experience: According to its National Health Service website: “The NHS employs more than 1.6 million people…” Its budget is massive: “For 2015/16, it was around £115.4 billion.”
Adjusting for our five times larger population and 40 percent higher salaries, the same system in America would cost 1.2 trillion dollars a year. We would have to cut this impossible sum the same way the Brits do: by limiting access to good care.
America, behold your future:
Tales of British Health Care
From the Daily Mail:
“An elderly woman died alone after doctors failed to tell relatives they were ending her life on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway. Olive Goom, 85, passed away with no one by her side after medics neglected to consult with her family about her treatment at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. …As Miss Goom lay dying alone, staff reassured relatives on the phone just hours before her death that there was no urgent need to visit – even though doctors had already removed tubes providing vital food and fluids. Her family discovered that she had died only when her niece went to visit her and found she was already being prepared for the mortuary. They said last night that they will never be able to stop feeling guilty that no one was there in her final hours. The Mail has been contacted by several families who claim that relatives were put on the Liverpool Care Pathway – the controversial system designed to ease the suffering of the dying in their final hours – without any consultation. Some said they found out that their relatives were on the pathway only after they happened to read their medical notes; and by that time it was too late.”
From the Independent:
“Hip replacements, cataract surgery and tonsil removal are among operations now being rationed in a bid to save the NHS money.
“Two-thirds of health trusts in England are rationing treatments for “non-urgent” conditions as part of the drive to reduce costs in the NHS by £20bn over the next four years. One in three primary-care trusts (PCTs) has expanded the list of procedures it will restrict funding to in the past 12 months.
“Examples of the rationing now being used include:
“Hip and knee replacements only being allowed where patients are in severe pain. Overweight patients will be made to lose weight before being considered for an operation.
“Cataract operations being withheld from patients until their sight problems “substantially” affect their ability to work.
“Patients with varicose veins only being operated on if they are suffering “chronic continuous pain”, ulceration or bleeding.
“Tonsillectomy (removing tonsils) only to be carried out in children if they have had seven bouts of tonsillitis in the previous year.
“The alarming figures emerged from a survey of 111 PCTs by the health-service magazine GP, using the Freedom of Information Act.”
From the Telegraph:
“Women in labour have been forced to wait while epidural equipment was borrowed from other hospitals, while other patients have been denied chest drains and radiology supplies, according to doctors at South London Healthcare Trust. Minutes of a meeting between medical staff and the trust’s chief executive say “cash flow” problems at the trust which has a £50 million deficit, mean vital equipment is regularly not ordered. A separate letter sent to managers of the trust, one of the largest in the country, says consultants have been misled into carrying out operations when it was not safe to go ahead because of bed shortages. …Doctors told managers “again and again” that consultants were unable to know that equipment was missing until the last item had been used, when their patient was already lying on the table, according to the minutes of [the] June 16 meeting.
“A separate letter sent from a senior consultant to trust managers describes shortages of fracture equipment, ventilation masks and endoscopic cameras used to diagnose cancer.”
There is scientific evidence that Neanderthals cared for their wounded and maimed. Remains of men with injuries that left them unable to hunt or even walk, showed they lived a normal life span. This would’ve been impossible without the dedicated help of others.
Neanderthals were not even human. Will we do less to care for our sick?
Bob Bennett is a New York-based writer who has written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal and the NY Post, and has appeared on Fox and Friends and America’s Newsroom. He has traveled widely and written travel pieces for the NY Post, a cover article for the Jewish Press, and an op-ed for the medical journal Cancer Biotherapy & Radioimmunotherapy. Bob was also award-winning producer of a travel radio show heard on New York stations: WMCA, WNWK and 50,000 watt WOR and the national Sky Angel Network. He now blogs on Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Community and Red State Diaries.