Yesterday, a federal judge in Michigan struck a blow for sanity and against Kookinelli-style “reasoning,” ruling that the new health care law is constitutional, and “rejecting an argument that Congress lacked the power to create the legislation’s ‘individual mandate.'” That, of course, is the crux of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s own case against the health reform law, so it’s worth looking at the Michigan judge’s reasoning in a similar case. Here are a few key points from the 20-page ruling (bolding added by me for emphasis):
*”The Supreme Court has consistently rejected claims that individuals who choose not to engage in commerce thereby place themselves beyond the reach of the Commerce Clause… plaintiffs in this case are participants in the health care services market. They are not outside the market. While plaintiffs describe the Commerce Clause power as reaching economic activity, the government’s characterization of the Commerce Clause reaching economic decisions is more accurate.”
*”The health care market is unlike other markets. No one can guarantee his or her health, or ensure that he or she will never participate in the health care market. Indeed, the opposite is nearly always true. The question is how participants in the health care market pay for medical expenses – through insurance, or through an attempt to pay out of pocket with a backstop of uncompensated care funded by third parties. This phenomenon of costshifting is what makes the health care market unique. Far from “inactivity,” by choosing to forgo insurance plaintiffs are making an economic decision to try to pay for health care services later, out of pocket, rather than now through the purchase of insurance, collectively shifting billions of dollars, $43 billion in 2008, onto other market participants. As this cost-shifting is exactly what the Health Care Reform Act was enacted to address, there is no need for metaphysical gymnastics of the sort proscribed by Lopez.”
*”The minimum coverage provision, which addresses economic decisions regarding health care services that everyone eventually, and inevitably, will need, is a reasonable means of effectuating Congress’s goal.”
*” Congress intended to increase the number of insureds and decrease the cost of health insurance by requiring individuals to maintain minimum essential coverage or face a penalty for failing to do so. Because the “penalty” is incidental to these purposes, plaintiffs’ challenge to the constitutionality of the penalty as an improperly apportioned direct tax is without merit.”
In short, Ken Cuccinelli’s lawsuit – and others like it around the country – is baseless, without merit, and whatever other legal synonyms you want to use for “crap.” Unfortunately, “Cooch” appears hell bent on wasting Virginia tax dollars filing frivolous lawsuits and pursuing his witch hunt against science, instead of…oh, let’s say, focusing his energies on internet predators, gangs, corporate polluters, stuff like that? What a concept.
By the way, what continues to be so ironic about Republican assaults on the so-called “individual mandate” is that this was a Republican idea in the first place! “In fact, says Len Nichols of the New America Foundation, the individual mandate was originally a Republican idea. ‘It was invented by Mark Pauly to give to George Bush Sr. back in the day, as a competition to the employer mandate focus of the Democrats at the time.'” Which just goes to show that, in addition to these lawsuits being completely “without merit,” they are also intellectually dishonest, Republicans desperately trying anything and everything – including filing suit against their own idea – to stop a law that was passed several times through Congress, which in turn was elected after publicly pledging to pass health care reform very similar to what was eventually passed.
So how did the American public somehow oppose this legislation? To the extent that they did, and the polling is very much mixed on this topic, perhaps all the “big lie” disinformation – “death panels,” “socialized medicine,” other claptrap – spewed out by the Republicans had something to do with that?