Judges sharply challenge healthcare law

From the LA Times:
A top Obama administration lawyer defending last year’s healthcare law ran into skeptical questions Wednesday from three federal judges here, who suggested they may be ready to declare all or part of the law unconstitutional.

Acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal K. Katyal faced off against former Bush administration Solicitor General Paul Clement in what has become the largest and broadest challenge to the healthcare law. In all, 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business joined in urging the judges to strike down the law.

And in an ominous sign for the administration, the judges opened the arguments by saying they knew of no case in American history where the courts had upheld the government’s power to force someone to buy a product.
I, for one, have no doubt that the Obamacare law will be ruled Constitutional.

I personally hope it will be.

Skeptical questions from three federal judges in Atlanta suggest they may be ready to declare unconstitutional all or part of the healthcare law promoted by the Obama administration and passed last year by Congress.

Reporting from Atlanta—
A top Obama administration lawyer defending last year’s healthcare law ran into skeptical questions Wednesday from three federal judges here, who suggested they may be ready to declare all or part of the law unconstitutional.

latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/sc-dc-0609-healthcare-court-20110608,0,2111995.story

One problem I see with such questions is that the judges seem to be working under the incorrect assumption that the government would “force” people to purchase something they aren’t already or wont purchase at any time in the future. Everyone purchases medical services.

The bill “requires” people to purchase medical insurance OR pay a an additional 2.5% tax up to the cost of insuring them. Congress has the Constitutional authority to levy taxes so the purchase of medical insurance amounts to a tax exemption. You have the option of purchasing X to gain exemption from X tax…like countless other tax exemptions and deductions which have never been declared to be unconstitutional on the basis that the tax itself “coerces” people into purchasing a product.

That’s what the mandate does. It forces you to buy a product and describes what that product looks like and approves which products you can purchase without getting punished.

If you are 25 and in good health, and don’t want health insurance, too bad, you gotta buy it.

It leads to the government mandating what you eat. After all, if we all are paying for your heath care, we all should have a say in if you eat that chilli dog or not, right?

Where does it end (hint to answer: it doesn’t)

We are talking full nationalized socialism here.

What the mandate does is introduce a tax and offer an exemption. If the court rules that the government cannot levy a tax and offer a product based exemption or deduction then the entire tax code will have to be rewritten, afterwards, you could probably count the number of exemptions/deductions on one hand. Corporations and small businesses write-off billions of dollars a year in product based deductions and exemptions. How much hiring do you think they’ll do if those no longer exist because the judicial system claims that it amounts to coercion?

In other words, you either pay the fine to the tax collector (IRS) or you get the insurance and file papers with the tax collector that you have the appropriate insurance.

This isn’t freedom, this is a federal mandate. As the judges said. If this is constitutional, what can’t congress demand of the citizens? Again, we are talking about nationalized socialism here.

Granted it has been a long road to this point, but the government has finally decided to take over all of our lives. (no exageration)

Oh, and rewriting the tax code is not that bad of an idea. That is what the Tea Party folks are all about.

I see… so government forcing people to buy their product would be bad. Fining people for refusing to buy their product, on the other hand, is perfectly sensible.

Do you consider tax credits, deductions, and exemptions for purchasing cars, houses, office supplies, etc. to be the antithesis of freedom? Its no different than a tax exemption for purchasing medical insurance. You can oppose this if you wish but know that what you are ultimately supporting is a dramatic increase in taxes.

In the MI challenge to the law, the Thomas More Society, supposedly the protector of religion, filed suit against one “Barack Hussein Obama”. Nice.

I don’t know why the law center had to be the plaintiff in a lawsuit which did not involve religion. It filed as a ‘Michigan employer’. Now you see why I don’t consider it a non-partisan law group?

Sure they are ways the government tries to manipulate the population. And no we don’t have to have a dramatic increase in taxes to get rid of these things. You just lower the tax rate and provide a flat tax for everyone.

The medical mandate isn’t a tax exemption, it is a fine if you don’t buy the product they want you to purchase. That is a different concept. But you are correct, it is another way to control the proletariat.

Different case I think. The plaintiffs in this case include governors and attorneys general from 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Corporations and small businesses write-off billions of dollars a year in product based deductions and exemptions. How much hiring do you think they’ll do if those no longer exist because the judicial system claims that it amounts to coercion?

Out of all the people who toss the flat tax idea into the arena not one, that I’ve read or heard, has ever actually produced a percentage. Let alone a percentage that would produce enough revenue to allow this country to operate.

It isn’t a fine. Its a tax like any other. Are income taxes a fine? Are sales taxes a fine? Are luxury taxes a fine? All have product based exemptions and deductions.

  1. Legislative intent: The Democrats were very emphatic that this was a fine, because they didn’t want to be seen as raising taxes.

  2. If it were a tax deduction like mortgage interest deductiins, Congress could have just given us a tax deductikn for oir health insurance costs.

And I do not understand why they have never done this. They do not tax employer-provided health insurance as income and it is considered an expense for the company, for a private purchase is therefore more expensive overall.

This would have made more sense and probably not have taken 2000 pages to accomplish.

So, they insisted that this is a penalty while getting the law passed, but are now calling it a tax deductiin, which means they raised our taxes by 2.5%, but give us a slight deduction for any approved health insurance we might purchase.

Oh, and the tax increase applies to everyone and is not progressive.

The questions Judges ask do not always represent the way they want to decide. Often they really want the suggested answers so they can analyze more thoroughly. In essense, questions say “Persuade me if you can.” Who has the better reasoning consistent with US Constitution and PRIOR law and PRIOR cases?

This issue will not be resolved until the US Supreme Court rules.

If I understand the issue correctly:

  1. About 85% of Americans have health insurance of some kind. Most employers help cover the premium. Decent insurance for a family of four is roughly $10,000 a year. The very poor have some coverage through Medicaid. God bless them. They deserve it and I do not begrudge them. The old have some coverage through Medicare. 1.45% of salary and almost the same when retired is NOT enough to run Medicare especially with the boomers retiring. We are paying too litlle for Medicare. The rest do not have coverage, but must be served in Emergency Rooms and that cost is passed on to the rest of us one way or the other.

  2. Now Obamacare wants to force everyone to buy medical insurance. 85% do already. The 15% will feel the expense more as tey are paying nothing now. His plan wil provide some assistance in covering that cost from Federal Funds - our taxes for families earning less than $88,000. Some cost will be covered by significantly decreasing a part of Medicare for the old. They will have to do with less service in the future or pay more to keep it. Some will come from increased insurance premiums. Some premiums are going up already in anticipation.

  3. Some medical providers may not accept new patients if the amount they are paid by the governement or insurance companies is not enough, IN THEIR OPINION. No one is talking about what is a fair price for medical servicve to cover cost and make a respectable profit. HUGE gap here. No one is talking about increasing medical doctors and staff to better serve the increase in people with insurance. Some will have to wait in line.

  4. Obamacare ignored the greatest expense doctors have to cover - malpractice insurance. Cut the doctor’s cost and the doctor can lower his fee for service. Obamacare choose to not cut this huge cost.

  5. Some companies have already petitioned the US Government for exemptions from the law. OK for you, but not for me. So will friends get exemptions while political adversaries do not?

  6. Some companies, seeing that premiums must rise, will conclude it is too expensive and drop coverage for their employees. Those employees will then have to buy from the US Governement program. To control government cost some services may be delayed and essentially be unavailable.

The more we have to pay in taxes, the less we have to spend on other things. Less we buy the fewer jobs. Less jobs results in less taxes. Less taxes means more borrowing. We are already in debt $14.3 trillion !!!

Congress intends to vastly expand coverage and to do that requires more revenue which requires either an increase in existing taxes or a new tax.

Employers can already deduct 100% of the premiums they pay for group health plans.

That depends on how you view it. The tax is 2.5% and its capped at the cost to insure you. A person which would be more expensive to cover would pay more.

Actually that is not the case when the law is fully implimented. Given the low rate increase most “decent” major medical plans will find themselves classified as “Cadillac” Plans by 2017.

All of what you speak of are optional. You don’t HAVE to buy a car or house.

I’ve actually had Obamacare supporters try to tell me you do. They’re nothing if not blindly loyal. :wink:

Obama promised to increase taxes only on “the rich.” However, this “tax” wpuld apply to everyone who was not insured, regardless of income, ie, not progressive.

It is true that those of lower income who chose to sign up for Medicaid (not all low-income people are eligible; and for some who are, there is a waiting list), would not then have to pay the “tax;” however, this leads to the conundrum of “taxing” those who do not have or who turn down state aid.

And of course one is left to wonder why the cost of the expansion of federally-funded and mandated health care was not ever mentioned; instead we heard only about how much money wpuld be saved by the government as a result of this law, leading a normal-thinking person to wonder why the tax is needed.

Employers can already deduct 100% of the premiums they pay for group health plans.

Ahhh, that’s what I was trying to say. Thank you for clarifying that.

That depends on how you view it. The tax is 2.5% and its capped at the cost to insure you.

Hmmmm, Sounds like if the average price of health insurance is $10k/yr, then if your adjusted taxable income were over $400,000/year, you wouldn’t have to pay the full “tax.”

Now, say that a family has an income of $50k adjusted income, and paid 10%; that would be $5000 they pay in taxes. If the employer did not provide health insurance and they had to pay for their own, that would cost them $10k. If they were unable to afford to pay 20% of their gross income on health insurance, they would pay an additional 2.5% “tax,” or $1250 (which was described as a fine when the legislation was discussed).

So those who cannot afford health insurance will pay this “tax,” while those who can afford health insurance on their after-tax income or who have it provided by their employer on untaxed income will get a 2.5% “reduction” from the previously unmentioned 2.5% increase.

Gee, sounds like a fine to me. Esp considering the way it was emphatically described during the discussion on the then-proposed legilation. That was odd, they passed the bill then found that it included an across-the-board tax increase and a very minor tax deduction.

A person which would be more expensive to cover would pay more.

I didn’t understand this…

You don’t have to buy a car or a house but, if you don’t, you also don’t get the deduction or exemption. You also don’t have to purchase medical insurance but, if you don’t, you also don’t get the exemption. You still have the option not to purchase medical insurance but, just as with buying houses or cars, the only other option is to pay more in taxes. Its no different than any other produce based deduction or exemption.

I believe the figure was $150 billion per year.

:slight_smile:

A tax is a tax.

Not everyone costs the same amount to cover.

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